You might notice that just after a few days of sunshine in summer, you have more freckles appearing across your skin. This might be surprising, especially if you have been wearing sunscreen.
Sunscreen should protect your skin from the sun, which should reduce melanin production, so there should not be any darkening of the skin. However, this isn’t necessarily always how it works.
Why do you get freckles even with sunscreen? There are a few reasons why you might still get freckles even when using sunscreen. It could be that you did not use a strong enough sunscreen, or you spent too much time in the sun and the sunscreen became ineffective.
If you notice more freckles appearing on your skin and you aren’t sure why your sunscreen isn’t working, keep reading to find out why this might be happening, and what you can do about it.
Why Do Freckles Appear?
Freckles appear when your skin has been prompted to produce melanin, which is the pigment that gives your skin a darker color when you tan. If one spot produces too much melanin, or there is a build-up of melanin, a freckle will appear.
Freckles happen to appear more in summer because you are likely exposed to more sun in the warmer months, so your skin is prompted to produce more melanin.
However, it is important to note that not everyone is genetically predisposed to get freckles, and those with lighter hair are more likely to develop freckles.
Reasons Why You Develop Freckles With Sunscreen
You might be quite confused as to why you keep noticing freckles popping up even though you are using sunscreen when outdoors, but there are a few reasons this could be happening.
Here are some of the reasons why you might develop freckles even though you wear sunscreen:
Not High Enough SPF
One of the likely reasons why you might develop freckles even when wearing sunscreen is because the sunscreen you are using is not strong enough.
Different skin types have different resistance to UV rays, and some skin types can get away with using an SPF30 or similar, while others need a stronger SPF50 for better protection.
It could be that you are using a sunscreen that is not strong enough for your skin type, and this means that there are still UV rays getting through to your skin, causing a build-up of melanin in certain spots, and therefore leading to freckles.
Try to use a higher SPF when going out in the sun again and see if this reduces the number of freckles that appear afterward. You may also want to pair your sunscreen with SPF tanning lotions for extra protection.
Some skin types are genetically predisposed to freckles and develop freckles really easily. The general rule is that lighter hair people develop freckles more easily, and even the smallest amount of time in the sun can lead to freckles.
If you have dark skin and do not already have freckles, it is very unlikely that you will develop any in the sun.
However, if you have had freckles throughout your life, then it is likely that even small exposure to the sun will lead to freckles developing, even if you are wearing sunscreen.
Too Much Time In The Sun
Sunscreen does have a time limit to it, and putting SPF50 on in the morning does not mean that you will be protected the whole day.
You do need to keep reapplying sunscreen throughout the day, to ensure that your skin remains protected.
You might be developing freckles because your sunscreen is not as effective after some time in the sun, and your skin is more exposed to UV rays, which causes an increase in melanin production in some spots.
No SPF In Skincare
So many of us are guilty of only applying sunscreen when we are planning on long periods in the sun, but this is not good enough, and you need to give your skin as much protection as possible throughout the day.
The best way to do this is to include an SPF into your skincare routine. This could be by purchasing a moisturizer with built-in SPF, sunscreen that can be applied before makeup, or SPF setting spray for easy reapplication that won’t ruin your makeup.
You might think that you are giving your skin adequate protection when spending a long time in the sun, but you might not be giving it enough protection for all the other times during the day when you might be exposed to the sun, even for short periods.
Walking to the car, sitting by the window, or even driving, can expose your skin to UV rays, and with a certain skin type, this is more than enough for freckles to develop.
How To Prevent Freckles From Appearing
The best way to prevent freckles from appearing is to up your sunscreen game and make sure your skin is as protected as possible.
Here are some tips on what to do:
Use Strong Sunscreen
The first thing you can try to do is wear very strong sunscreen when spending time outdoors. An SPF50+ which is broad-spectrum is the best option.
It is also a good idea to use water-resistant sunscreen, to ensure it does not wash off while you are swimming or sweating.
You will need to apply the sunscreen every 2 hours to ensure it offers full protection throughout the day.
Wear Protective Clothing
Other than using sunscreen, protective clothing can also do a great job at preventing UV rays from reaching your skin, and therefore not producing freckles.
Long-sleeve clothing is a good option, but if it is a hot day, then a wide-brimmed hat should give your face and neck good protection from the sun and should help prevent freckles from developing.
Make sure that the hat is made from UV-protective material, and that it does not have any gaps or holes that could let UV rays through.
Avoid The Sun At Certain Times
The sun is strongest at certain times of the day, and it is best to avoid the sun when it is at its strongest, as it is more likely to do damage at this time and cause sunburn and melanin production, which leads to freckles.
The sun is generally at its strongest between 10 am and 3 pm, so spending time outdoors before or after this time period does reduce the chances that you could develop freckles.
Wear Sunscreen Daily
Make an effort to include sunscreen into your routine daily. There are some great daily moisturizers that include SPF in the formula, so you can use one product for multiple needs.
If you do not want to use a moisturizer with a built-in SPF, then you could look for a lightweight sunscreen that can be applied underneath makeup or other skincare products.
This will help you avoid sunburn and damage when going about your daily routine, especially in the times when you would least expect it.
Use Fake Tanners
You might want to try and tan outdoors in the sun, but if your skin type typically develops freckles, then you might land up with more freckles than a tan.
Spending time in the sun is also damaging to your skin, and there are safer ways to develop a tan without having to put your skin through sun damage.
You can choose to use a self-tanner at home yourself or go to a salon for a spray tan. Both of these contain DHA, which reacts with the outer layer of your skin to develop a darker color and create a fake tan.
You do not need to spend any time in the sun, and you have quite a bit of control of the color your skin develops too, without any of the freckles.
Why Do I Get Freckles With Sunscreen?
There are multiple reasons why you might still develop freckles when wearing sunscreen, but mostly it comes down to your skin type and how likely you are to develop freckles.
The best way to avoid it is to use a stronger sunscreen, reapply the sunscreen often, wear protective clothing, avoid the sun when it is at its strongest, and include a daily sunscreen product into your skincare routine.
Freckles appear when the skin is prompted to produce more melanin, and this happens when it is exposed to UV rays, so preventing UV rays from reaching your skin is the only way to avoid freckles from developing.
Do freckles fade?
Freckles usually fade away over time and can become lighter in the colder months, darkening again when you spend more time outdoors in the summer.
Does sunscreen stop freckles from darkening?
Sunscreen can help to stop freckles from becoming darker, as it prevents UV rays from reaching your skin, and therefore not prompting the skin to develop more melanin, which would result in the freckles becoming a darker color.
Can you fade freckles?
In some cases, you are able to fade freckles. One of the best ways to do this is to use a topically applied vitamin C serum. This will rejuvenate the skin and lighten freckles slightly.