The Science of Freckles

The Science of Freckles

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Summer is in full swing, and everyone’s rushing to get outside to soak up some sun rays and get their daily dose of vitamin D.

With the return of humid days and sparkling sunshine, so returns another common question you’ve probably wondered to yourself: Why do some people get freckles when they lay out in the sun, while others tan or burn? Some of us adore our freckles, while others feel more self-conscious about their pigmented appearance. Either way, we need answers, and we need them now.

UV Rays

Freckles are basically a sprinkling of the pigment protein melanin, which shows up when UV rays come into contact with your skin. Melanin darkens and protects the skin from the damage UV rays can cause, and melanocytes are the cells that makeup melanin.

In some people, melanocytes spread out evenly and look something like a tan or wash of darkening skin. In others, the melanocytes group together in clumps or bunches and cause a peppering of freckles. Freckles are most commonly found on the face (as this is the part of your body that gets the most sun), but they can show up literally anywhere on the skin that’s exposed to sunshine.

Interestingly, freckles are also an indication of how sensitive your skin is to the sun. Pigmentation is a common concern for a lot of individuals who are fed up with their freckles and often have them removed at reputable clinics like Adelaide freckle removal clinic — epiclinic, where a tailored plan of laser treatments teamed with skin rejuvenation treatments, will help remove the pigmentation.


This is usually (but not always) why paler individuals freckle, and why these skin spots are so common on many natural redheads. Red hair and freckles are generally created by the gene MC1R, which is described as a “set of instructions” for balancing the pigments of both skin and hair.

The protein mainly stays on the surface of melanocytes, and it’s responsible for the fluctuations in the melanin production. We actually have two primary pigments: Pheomelanin, which is responsible for red and orange and eumelanin which is accountable for colours other than red.


Your genes come in two different versions; thus ginger hair and freckles aren’t always a package deal. Although freckles can often look cool, people with freckled skin are more prone to get skin cancer due to the broken-up wash of protective melanin. So always protect your skin as much as possible when outside.

The only way an individual can get freckles is through sun exposure — no one is actually born with them. Regardless of how genetics play in deciding how your skin will react to UV rays, nobody has ever been born with a bunch of freckles across their tiny infant face.