Freckle Tattoo Gone Wrong: What Can Happen & What to Do?

A good freckle tattoo can give you a natural, sun-kissed look, but a bad one can mean all sorts of aesthetic and medical problems. PMUHub covers the various scenarios of a freckle tattoo gone wrong and what you can do.

freckle tattoo gone wrong

Image source: Instagram @tillywhitfeld

With natural makeup looks reigning supreme lately, freckles are enjoying a steady stream of popularity. After all, what’s more natural than embracing and highlighting your natural beauty spots?

But not everyone is naturally gifted with those charming little dots – that’s why many people are turning to makeup to recreate the look. Freckle tattoos are a form of facial micropigmentation that gives you natural-looking freckles without the hassle of smudging, running, and reapplying them each day.

If you decide to get this treatment done, however, you should be prepared for the chance of it going badly. Here’s all you need to know about a freckle tattoo gone wrong and what you can do to navigate that situation.

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Normal Side Effects of Getting a Freckle Tattoo

Like any procedure that involves breaking the surface of the skin, getting a freckle tattoo carries some potential risks and side effects. Some of them are immediate and basically inevitable, while others may or may not occur down the line.

The most common side effects of a freckle tattoo include:

  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Irritation
  • Itchiness
  • Tenderness

These are all normal and should last no longer than 48 hours. If they persist for longer than that, you might be dealing with a more serious issue, such as an allergic reaction or an infection.

Image source: Instagram @jette.scherzer

Freckle Tattoo Risks

In addition to the normal side effects, freckle tattoos pose some more serious risks. These mainly include allergic reactions and infections.

Allergic reactions can happen in response to the pigments, the tattoo needle, or an aftercare product. Permanent makeup pigments are formulated in a way that lets the body metabolize them with minimal problems, but everyone’s system is unique.

It’s better to err on the side of caution. To minimize the risk of an allergic reaction, you should always do a patch test before you commit to a cosmetic tattoo.

Infection happens when your freshly tattooed face is exposed to a contaminant or an irritant. Contaminants are bacteria, viruses, and some types of fungi. Irritants are dust, dirt, debris, harsh chemicals, etc.

As with allergic reactions, the best thing to do about infections is to prevent them. You can do that by choosing a reliable artist and following aftercare instructions.

Finally, you run the risk of being unhappy with your results. In the short term, this can happen due to poor technique, wrong color selection, or miscommunication.

In the long term, it can happen due to your freckles changing as you age. Pigments can sometimes migrate or discolor over the years, so your freckles could start to look more like pigmentation (age spots).

@tillywhitfeld Happy 2 years to the biggest mistake of my life #freckletattoo ♬ original sound - tilly whitfeld

What Is Considered a Freckle Tattoo Gone Wrong?

There are a few possible ways that a freckle tattoo can go wrong. You could simply get unappealing results, have a bad reaction, or even develop actual medical complications.

Let’s take a look at each scenario of tattoo freckles gone wrong and why they happen.

You’re Not Happy With the Results

After you get your freckles tattooed and the healing period is over, you might look into the mirror and realize hey, this isn’t what I wanted on my face! While it’s definitely not a desirable outcome, it’s the mildest possible case of bad tattoo freckles.

There could be a couple of reasons why you end up unhappy with the result of your freckle tattoo.

First, it could be simple miscommunication. Maybe you and your artist didn’t quite get on the same page about what you want during your consultations. That’s why it’s important to take your time and clarify every detail before you go through with the appointment.

Second, it could be a mismatch between expectations and reality. Again, this is something that can be avoided with detailed consults. Your artist should tell you in no uncertain terms how everything will go and what results you can expect with your skin type.

Third, it could be just the natural human resistance to change. After all, you did wake up with new long-term markings and they’re right there on your face. It’s natural to experience a bit of a double-take moment and have short-term regrets.

Give it a few days to let yourself get used to your new freckled look and see how you feel about it then. If you’re still not happy with them, you can ask for a correction.

They Look Unnatural

Tattooed freckles should look as natural as possible and seamlessly blend in with your overall look, so when they don’t, that can be quite distressing. Unnatural tattooed freckles mostly appear as too dark, too artificially arranged, or too regular in shape.

There are three reasons why a freckle tattoo might look unnatural: bad pigment choice, bad arrangement, and excessive symmetry. Each of these can happen if your treatment is done by an inexperienced artist.

Generally speaking, your tattooed freckles should be just a shade or two darker than your natural complexion and must take your skin’s undertone into account.

If they’re too dark or too pale, they will look obviously out of place against your skin tone. The only exception are rainbow freckles, which are meant to stand out.

Along the same line, the freckles you have tattooed should be dispersed across your face in a way that mimics natural freckle distribution as closely as possible. Most people want them across the ridge of their nose and their cheeks.

However, natural freckles always spread out a bit further – around the eyebrows, the jaw, the forehead, or the neck.

If your tattoo doesn’t include a few of these, there will be too sharp of a cutoff to the freckled area of your face, which gives it an unnatural look. They should gradually fizzle out, so to say.

Finally, natural freckles are never perfect circles and never perfectly symmetrical. Therefore the tattooed ones should have a slightly irregular shape and be a little loosely scattered too.

Image source: Instagram @btweddle

The Color Turns Out Wrong

As a form of facial micropigmentation, freckle tattoos are done with permanent makeup pigments instead of traditional tattoo ink. The color of the pigment has to be mixed and customized to fit each person’s skin tone and hair color.

However, once the tattoo completely heals, you might notice the color being slightly off. Keep in mind that this doesn’t include the natural changes in pigment saturation that occur during the healing period.

Pigments turning out the wrong color can happen in the following cases:

  • Wrong pigment colors selected from the start
  • Faded by sunlight exposure
  • Pigments deposited too deep or too shallow
  • More pigment than expected is removed by the body during healing
  • Low-quality pigments used during the procedure
  • Pigments were formulated for eyebrows, instead of specifically for freckles

These issues can usually be fixed in a color correction appointment.

The Pigment Smudges

The pigments used in tattooing freckles are deposited into the upper dermis layer and settle into the cells as the skin heals. Once they settle, they’re meant to stay there.

However, sometimes the pigment molecules migrate over time. This results in overlarge freckles that end up looking more like blurry sun spots or age spots.

There are a few reasons why your freckles might smudge. The pigments could migrate due to skin becoming loose with age, or due to increased oil and sebum production, or because they were deposited too deeply into the skin.

If you end up with runny freckles, you have three options:

  • Stop getting touch-ups and let them fade away completely
  • Go in for a correction appointment
  • Go in for a removal

They Don’t Fade

A freckle tattoo is meant to last around 2-3 years. If you don’t get a maintenance touch-up to refresh the pigments, they will fade away. However, sometimes this process takes longer than it should, and the pigments take on an unnatural color.

If they stay for too long, your tattooed freckles could turn ashy or grayish after a while. If the pigment was formulated for eyebrows, instead of specifically for freckles, the tattoo could even fade into a bluish tint.

The factors that determine your freckle fade rate include:

  • Your metabolism and immune system
  • The pigment quality and formula
  • Skin type
  • Sunlight exposure
  • Lifestyle
  • Skincare routine

If you feel like your tattoo is sticking around for too long, contact your artist. They’ll be able to assess the situation and suggest steps if necessary.

Scarring Develops

A properly performed freckle tattoo shouldn’t inflict any scars on your face, but it’s still a risk to be aware of. Scarring from tattooed freckles is typically the result of poor technique by an inexperienced artist.

Depositing pigments for a freckle tattoo is delicate work, as they have to be shallow enough to heal into a natural look, but deep enough to actually retain pigment.

If the needle goes too deep, it could cause excessive trauma to the surrounding skin cells and trigger your body’s healing response too strongly, so that it forms a scar instead of just closing the micropuncture.

If you do end up with scarring, don’t panic. First let your body complete its healing cycle on its own. Interfering with the scars while they’re still forming could potentially make them worse.

Then, contact your artist, send them pictures, and document their response and potential recommendations. Take all of the information to your doctor, and consider consulting a specialist dermatologist as well.

They’ll be able to tell you whether you can realistically expect the scars to diminish with time, or whether you should consider a scar removal procedure down the line.

Allergic Reaction

The best thing to do about allergic reactions is to avoid them. Always insist on a patch test before any new permanent makeup procedure and every time you go to a different artist.

Choose a spot behind your ear or on your inner arm near the elbow crease. Then have your artist prick it with the same type of needle they use for freckle tattoos, apply a tiny amount of the same pigment that they intend to use in your appointment, and a bit of the same aftercare cream or ointment that they would apply after your freckle tattoo.

Wait for 48 hours. If no adverse reaction occurs, you’re clear to go through with your procedure.

You should rethink your appointment if you experience any of the following:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Itching
  • Rashes
  • Burning
  • Stinging
  • Blisters
  • Pain

Sometimes, though, an allergic response can be triggered by the patch test itself. If everything seems fine, but then you still have an allergic reaction during or after your appointment, alert your artist immediately.

They will help you identify what specific factor you reacted to, and you should take that information to your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor will prescribe immediate relief and any further treatment if necessary.


As we mentioned, infections can happen when your skin is exposed to contaminants or irritants after the tattoo. Some common symptoms of infection include:

  • Persistent redness
  • Persistent swelling
  • Pain in the tattooed area
  • Unusual discharge
  • Unpleasant smell from the area

If you suspect an infection, contact both your artist and your doctor immediately. First, your artist will estimate whether you’re actually looking at an infected result or something else is going on.

Next, your doctor will double-check that assessment. They’ll likely run some diagnostics to determine what type of infection you’re dealing with – bacterial, viral, fungal, or combination – and prescribe a course of appropriate treatment.

DIY Disaster

A DIY freckle tattoo gone wrong is like a mix of several other botched freckles scenarios. It can result in the wrong final pigment, plus deep scarring, plus infection and/or allergy, plus swelling so bad it renders you unable to see. Absolute nightmare outcome, right?

That’s why you should never try to perform a real freckle tattoo on your own face. The only safe option for DIY freckles is to do them with henna, and even then you have to be careful.

Don’t choose pure black henna (it’ll look unnatural and you can have a bad reaction to its chemical composition) and don’t poke your skin to apply it. Remember that henna is meant to be used only topically.

Learn everything about henna freckles from our ultimate guide.

What Can You Do About Tattoo Freckles Gone Wrong?

If you find yourself facing a freckle tattoo gone wrong situation, you have essentially three options: correction, removal, or waiting it out. The only exceptions are allergic reactions and infections, which require immediate medical attention.

Aesthetic problems can usually be fixed with a correction appointment. These problems include unnatural-looking final results, the wrong final color, suboptimal placement or distribution of freckles, and smudged pigment.

If it’s really a botched job, you might look into removal options. When it comes to removing facial micropigmentation and other forms of permanent makeup, there are three choices: laser, saline, and glycolic acid.

However, not all of them are a good idea for freckle tattoo removal. Specifically, you should forgo laser. Freckle tattoo pigments are mixed and matched to be the color of the client’s skin, so they often contain a measure of white pigment which contains titanium dioxide.

Titanium dioxide reacts badly when exposed to laser energy and darkens into an unattractive gray color. This is obviously not something you want on your face.

Some types of laser machines might be able to work around that problem, but it could be too difficult to find experienced laser technicians who work with those specific lasers and have specific experience with removing titanium dioxide pigment.

Due to all that, saline removal and glycolic acid removal are better choices. However, not many permanent makeup artists have experience with removing freckle tattoos specifically.

So, all in all, removal is your last resort if you genuinely can’t live with your freckle tattoo gone wrong for a moment longer. Otherwise, your best strategy is to just cover it up with some good foundation until it fades away on its own.

@daisylovesick Let’s take a look at some good freckle tattoos vs. some SHOCKINGLY bad ones.. 👀✨ #freckletattoo #facetattoo #freckletattooing #badtattoo #tattooregret #tattooartist ♬ Dream Away - Ramol

Freckle Tattoo Gone Wrong – Main Takeaways

The most common side effects of freckle tattoos should only last for up to 48 hours. More serious risks include allergic reactions and infections, and there’s also the chance that you may not be happy with the results after healing.

If you’re stuck with tattoo freckles gone wrong, your options are correction, removal, or waiting it out until they naturally fade away. The best way to avoid the whole trouble is to choose a reliable, reputable artist who has specific experience in freckle tattooing.

Be transparent and detailed in your consultations to make sure you’re on the same page about what you want and what the artist can do for you. In addition, follow all of the aftercare instructions to minimize the risk of any complications.



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