Freckle Tattoos: The Ultimate Guide
Read our comprehensive guide through freckle tattoos and find out everything you need to know: how they’re done, how long they last, risks, cost, and more.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2019. Updated in December 2021.
PMU has evolved so much it now offers a whole range of cosmetic tattooing treatments – one of them is freckle tattoos. Although not strictly a substitute for makeup, freckle tattoos are done in a very similar way to other permanent makeup treatments.
Tattoo freckles have been very popular in the past few years, with more and more people embracing the natural look and seeing beauty in what was once considered imperfections. So freckles became something to be desired, and while the look can easily be recreated with a simple brow pencil, some are going so far as having them tattooed.
Here’s everything you need to know about freckle tattoos.
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ABOUT FRECKLE TATTOOS
What Are Tattoo Freckles?
A relatively new addition to the range of PMU treatments, freckle tattoos are a form of cosmetic tattooing that recreates the look of natural freckles on the face.
They can be done on the nose, cheeks, temples, chin, anywhere on the face.
While most clients want round-shaped freckles that look natural, it’s also possible to get particular shapes, like stars or hearts. Some clients want their freckles placed in a specific pattern – getting your astrological constellation in freckles is something that’s very popular.
The faux freckles are created by depositing a pigment several shades darker than the client’s skin tone into their skin, creating tiny dots that resemble natural freckles. Since the color goes into the skin rather than on top of it, these tattooed freckles aren’t washed off or smudged, and they last up to 3 years.
Image source: Instagram @bren_paintedlady_pigments
Are Freckle Tattoos the Same as Regular Tattoos?
No, modern-day freckles tattoos are not traditional body art.
Tattoo freckles fall under the category of cosmetic tattooing, a type of tattooing meant to last a couple of years, gradually fading away. They’re done with pigments rather than inks, which the body can metabolize and fade away the results.
The fact that cosmetic tattooing allows fading of the results makes it much more suitable for treating the face – if you ever change your mind about having tattooed freckles, you can just let them fade away.
ABOUT FRECKLE TATTOOS TREATMENT
How Are Freckle Tattoos Done?
Freckle tattoos are done by opening up the skin with either a PMU machine or a hand-held needle and depositing pigments of natural origins into it. The marks made are tiny dots, but it’s important to note that they shouldn’t be perfectly round – they should look natural, and therefore, asymmetry and imperfection are desirable.
The pigments are deposited close to the surface of the skin, so they can look quite natural if done right.
The freckles tattoo is a 2-session treatment. The first session does most of the work, but a touch up 6-8 weeks later is mandatory. As your skin heals from the initial needling, a certain amount of pigment is extracted and the freckles lighten 30-40%. The touch up is there to add more pigment and darken them up, and it ensures the results last longer.
It’s also good to note that it’s always better to go lighter on the first session and darken up the freckles at the touch up, when the artist can assess how well your skin retains pigments, than to go too dark and regret it.
Freckle Tattoo Process Step by Step
Here’s what the treatment is like, step by step:
Step 1 – Consults
You will have a chat with your artist and tell them what you want your tattooed freckles to look like and where you want them placed. They’ll assess your skin and pick the best shade for your complexion.
Step 2 – Cleaning and Pre-Drawing
Your face is cleaned from any makeup and skincare residues and sebum. It needs to be clean as the skin will be broken and there’s a risk of contamination.
The artist will draw on trial marks on your face and you can decide on the placement of the freckles, as well as their shape and size.
Step 3 – Numbing
A topical anesthetic is applied onto the area that will be treated. The numbing takes about 15-20 minutes to kick in, and once it does, the needling can start.
Some artists numb first and pre-draw second – it all depends on their preference.
Step 4 – Pigment Implementation
The artist will use either an electric PMU device or a manual tool with a needle to make tiny dot-like incisions on the skin, which are filled with pigment and add up to freckles. They may go over the same spot multiple times to saturate it in pigment.
This can take 20-45 minutes, depending on the number of freckles you want.
Step 5 – Cleaning
Finally, your face is cleaned of the pigment residues. You will be given aftercare instructions, and possibly an aftercare ointment.
Step 6 – Touch Up
Your skin needs 6-8 weeks to heal completely from the first session, during which time the pigments will settle into the skin and light up 30-40% compared to their initial shade. At that point, you should go back in for the touch up.
Image source: Instagram @headchopstudio
How Long Does the Treatment Last?
The treatment can take up to an hour, depending on how many tattooed freckles you want.
Does It Hurt?
Not really, although it isn’t exactly comfortable either.
The numbing cream will eliminate the pain, but you will still feel pressure, something akin to pinching or stinging, and tattooing over your nose may trigger the urge to sneeze. If you feel pain at any moment, ask the artist if they can add more numbing. If you feel the need to sneeze, warn them in time so that they can move the needle away from your face.
Bear in mind that the skin in different parts of the face varies in sensitivity, so some parts might be more uncomfortable than others.
Is Freckle Tattooing Safe?
Generally, yes, if done right.
However, since the surface of the skin is broken, there’s the risk of contamination and subsequent infection if the treatment isn’t done in sterile conditions and with sterile equipment, or if the tiny wounds get contaminated during healing.
There’s also a small risk of an allergic reaction to the pigments or the numbing, so a patch test should always be done beforehand.
Finally, there’s a small risk of permanent scarring in case of improper technique or overworking the skin. This is especially the case if you’re generally prone to keloid scarring.
Image source: Instagram @stellarcosmetictattoo
Are There Any Contraindications?
Yes. As with any PMU treatment, freckle tattoos are not safe for:
- People with diabetes (consult your doctor)
- People with any bleeding disorders
- People who take blood-thinning medications (consult your GP and discontinue use if possible)
- People who’ve recently had Botox injections or fillers in the area that will be treated (wait at least 4 weeks)
- Pregnant or nursing women
- People with a history of keloids or hypertrophic scarring
- People with viral infections or diseases
- People who are going through chemotherapy
- People with skin irritations or Psoriasis near the treated area
- People whose skin was tanned recently
PREPARATION FOR FRECKLE TATTOOS
How Do I Prepare for Freckle Tattoos?
The most important step in prepping for the treatment is finding a good artist who is experienced and whose work you like. Research the artists in your area carefully and look through their portfolios.
There are some things you should avoid in the weeks and days before your appointment:
- Don’t go sunbathing or tanning for 2 weeks. Tanned skin is more sensitive.
- Stop using any retinol or Vitamin A products one month prior. These thin out the skin and make it bleed more.
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine, ibuprofen, aspirin and fish oil supplements for at least 24 hours prior to your appointment.
- Don’t do any facials at least two weeks before the treatment.
- If you take blood-thinning medication, consult your GP and see if it would be safe to discontinue the use for a few weeks.
FRECKLE TATTOOS AFTERCARE
Do Freckle Tattoos Require Any Aftercare?
Yes, but it’s nothing complicated. It comes down to protecting the area from contamination and avoiding certain activities in order to prevent premature pigment fading.
Freckle Tattoo Aftercare Instructions
You need to:
- Refrain from touching the area as long as possible. No scratching no matter how itchy it gets!
- Keep the treated area dry for 24 hours.
- From day 2, clean the area the way your artist prescribes.
- No makeup in the treated area for about 10 days.
- Don’t get the area soaking wet for about 10 days. No swimming, no saunas or steam baths, and no excessive sweating.
- Stay away from sunlight for about 2 weeks.
- Avoid harsh skincare ingredients.
- If your artist advises, apply the prescribed aftercare ointment regularly.
Once the area completely stops flaking, you can discontinue the aftercare routine, but it’s a good idea to keep avoiding direct sunlight exposure, as it can fade pigments.
Can I Wear Makeup After the Treatment?
Not immediately, no.
The treated area is essentially covered in tiny wounds, and applying makeup to them can cause irritation and infection. You need to wait about 10 days before you can wear makeup again.
In terms of eyes or lips, you can wear makeup during this time if you must, but be very careful when removing it – no products or makeup residues should come into contact with the treated area.
TATTOO FRECKLES HEALING
How Long Does It Take for Freckle Tattoos to Heal?
It takes 6-8 weeks for your skin and the tissue underneath to heal completely, but the micro-wounds will close up much faster than that.
The symptoms of healing will only be present for about 10-14 days.
What’s the Freckle Tattoo Healing Process Like?
The freckle tattoo healing process is not as intensive as with some other PMU treatments. It does entail some minor immediate side-effects, and a few days of scabbing, and then flaking.
Here’s an overview of the freckle tattoo healing process:
- Day 1 – Redness, minor swelling, irritation
- Day 2 – Redness, swelling and irritation should have subsided. Scabbing starts.
- Days 3-5 – A thin scabby film is formed over the freckles. The area might feel dry or start itching.
- Days 5-10 – When the skin underneath heals, the scabby film will start to flake off.
- Days 10-14 – Flaking should end. Once it does, you can discontinue the aftercare routine.
You can expect your freckles to fade 30-40% by the time the healing process ends, so if they look too dark right after the treatment, just be patient.
Image source: Instagram @mandicolorshair
FRECKLE TATTOOS TOUCH UP
When Should I Get the First Touch Up?
The first touch up appointment is booked 6-8 weeks after the initial session, once the skin has had time to heal completely. It’s mandatory, as it serves to replenish pigments after the healing process and ensure the longest retention possible.
What About Maintenance Touch Ups?
As freckle tattoos fade over time, you have to get them refreshed every once in a while if you want to keep them. Most clients need a touch up annually, but it all depends on how fast your tattooed freckles are fading. Essentially, you can get touch ups as often or as rarely as you want.
Image source: Instagram @lauramakespretties
FRECKLE TATTOO EFFECTS
How Long Do Freckle Tattoos Last?
Depending on your skin type and lifestyle, they can last up to 3 years.
However, some factors can speed up the fading of tattooed freckles:
- Frequent sunlight exposure
- Frequent swimming in chlorinated or saltwater
- Aggressive skincare ingredients
- Chemical and mechanical peels
- Excessive smoking
- Frequent alcohol consumption
FRECKLE TATTOO SIDE EFFECTS
Are There Any Side Effects to Freckle Tattoos?
As with any procedure involving breaking the skin surface, there are certain immediate side-effects and the most common are:
These are all normal and to be expected, and they should subside within 48 hours after the procedure. If the symptoms persist, however, you may be dealing with an infection or an allergic reaction. In that case, contact your artist as soon as possible.
A more serious issue is long-term effects, i.e. how your freckle tattoos age. A common scenario is for the freckles to turn ashy or grayish after some time. This can happen if the pigment used was formulated for eyebrows rather than specifically for freckles, so you should never go to an artist who doesn’t have experience with tattooing freckles.
FRECKLE TATTOOS REMOVAL
Can Freckle Tattoos Be Removed?
Essentially, yes, but it’s a complicated process which can be quite long and uncomfortable.
There are 3 options for removing PMU: laser, saline, and glycolic acid removal. However, not all of these are suitable for freckle tattoo removal.
Since the pigments used are the color of the skin, a common ingredient found in them is titanium dioxide, a type of white pigment. When touched by a laser beam, titanium dioxide changes color and darkens into a gray. Obviously, this makes removing tattooed freckles from your face impossible. There are certain types of laser machines which can work around this issue, but techs who work with these might be hard to find.
Saline and glycolic acid removal are better options, but not many PMU removal techs have experience removing freckle tattoos.
The best option is to just wait for them to fade and cover them up with foundation until they do, unless they’re completely botched and you can’t live with them.
Image source: Instagram @browsbysage
As we mentioned, titanium dioxide can’t be touched with a laser beam. So if you have a freckle tattoo, you won’t be able to get any laser treatments in the area – not for anti-aging purposes nor for hair removal.
FRECKLE TATTOOS COST
How Much Do Freckle Tattoos Cost?
The price of a freckle tattoo treatment ranges from $80 to $350, depending on the artist and the area treated. The price is usually set based on how many freckles you get.
FRECKLE TATTOOS – MAIN TAKEAWAYS
If you really like the freckled look and you draw on your freckles with makeup, freckle tattoos are a great option. They’re a relatively simple procedure, but you should be aware that sometimes, they don’t age very well. So you should be very careful when choosing an artist and make sure they work with high-quality pigments formulated specifically for freckle tattooing.