Home Skincare Sun Spots Vs Freckles

Sun Spots Vs Freckles

by Gabbi

Every time summer starts to come around, you may notice your skin changing with the seasons. As the days get longer, warmer, and sunnier, sun spots and freckles can quickly appear on your face. However, it can be challenging to tell sun spots and freckles apart.

So, what is the difference between sun spots and freckles? Both will dot the face with discoloration, so it can be easy to mix them up. However, sun spots have a larger diameter than freckles, are less defined, and have a deeper appearance.

Freckles are tiny brown dots that appear more sporadically on the face and body. Some people are born with freckles, and others will have them appear only in the summertime. It’s crucial to nourish sun spots and freckles.

Sun spots are usually harmless, but they can grow into serious conditions if neglected or exposed to harsh elements like the sun. Freckles are also usually benign, and they can diminish as the winter season approaches.

Whether you want to conceal your sunspots or freckles will be up to you. However, SPF is necessary to keep your skin protected. So, what else do you need to know about freckles and sun spots? 

What Are Freckles?

Natural Freckles

As mentioned earlier, you can either be born with freckles or they can naturally occur in the summer months.

Freckles most often appear on fairer complexions. Also, in most cases, freckles are harmless and are just small dots of excess melanin.

Freckles are usually small brown dots that are no bigger than 2-5mm in diameter. They can be found on the face and all over the body.

Freckles can be permanent because the MC1R gene can produce them. Also, freckles look uniform in both size and color. While they may disappear in winter, some people will have them all year round.  

What Causes Freckles To Appear?

According to Healthline, “the credit for freckles goes to both the natural environment and genetics. Your risk for burning can increase the incidence of freckles.” As mentioned previously, the gene responsible for producing freckles is the MC1R.

Increased sun exposure can also produce freckles if you have the gene that creates freckles. 

Healthline states, “they form as a result of overproduction of melanin, which is responsible for skin and hair color. Overall, freckles come from ultraviolet (UV) radiation stimulation.” 

What Are Sun Spots?

Sun Spots or Liver Spots

Sun spots are often confused with freckles. The reason being is that there are two kinds of freckles – one that produces the small tiny dots we are most familiar to be freckles, and another type known to create sun spots, liver spots, or age spots.

Sun spots are more common in adults and older generations. Like freckles, they are usually harmless and pose little risk.

Also, anyone can develop sun spots with age. They can also vary in shape, size, and color. 

What Causes Sun Spots To Appear?

As the name suggests, sun spots are also caused by sun exposure. Sun spots are easy to identify because they are much larger than freckles. You can also receive these spots due to aging.

Sun spots are also the byproduct of various pigmented skin cells forming together into one spot on the face and body area. They’re more often found on people with fair complexions and older generations.

Similarities & Differences

We mentioned earlier that there are two types of freckles.

According to Healthline, “Ephelides are the common type most people think of as freckles. Solar lentigines are dark patches of skin that develop during adulthood. This includes freckles, aging spots, and sun spots.”

Sun spots and freckles do share similarities. For example, they are both produced by increased sun exposure, and they can be treated in a similar way. Staying in the shade, exfoliating, and wearing SPF can all diminish sun spots and freckles. 

However, what sets freckles and sun spots apart? Freckles can fade away with age or by reducing sun exposure. Freckles are most commonly found in kids or young adults, whereas sun spots are more prominent in older people. 

Anyone can get sun spots, but not everyone can get freckles. We mentioned that the MC1R gene produces freckles. This means your freckles can be triggered by the environment or solely by genetics.

However, anyone can develop sun spots if unprotected and exposed to the sun. People will most likely grow their spots in their 30s, 40s, or later in life.

Freckles and sun spots also differ in their appearance. For example, freckles are smaller and more uniform, while sunspots are larger and have varying shapes or sizes.

How To Care For Freckles

Regardless of whether you have freckles or not, everyone should learn to care for their skin. However, because freckles are more likely to appear on a fair complexion, it can also mean the skin can be more sensitive to external environmental factors.

While freckles are usually harmless, you still need to take care of them, so they don’t develop into something worse. It’s generally rare for freckles to develop a more serious skin condition, but it’s not impossible either.


SPF should be an essential step for everyone’s skincare routine. 

They will protect your freckles from the sun and possibly reduce their appearance. However, sunscreen will also ensure you won’t get a sunburn, and it helps you maintain a youthful appearance.

SPF should be applied every two hours for maximum protection. This is incredibly important for anyone looking to keep their skin healthy, resilient, and youthful. Also, you’ll need more frequent protection if you sit in the sun for long periods of time.

Minimize Sun Exposure

Another helpful tip for caring for freckles is minimizing sun exposure. This is also a good tip if you don’t want to ignite your freckles further or you want to keep your skin youthful. There are multiple ways you can reduce sun exposure.

For example, sunglasses, umbrellas, hats, long-sleeved t-shirts, and more can all help you minimize sun exposure. 

It’s crucial to note that freckles can appear anywhere on the body, so you can conceal the skin with clothes to reduce sun exposure.

How To Enhance Freckles 

Freckles are nothing to be ashamed of, and freckles are growing in popularity. As the beauty industry becomes more accepting and inclusive, everyone is fawning over freckles. So much so that many editorial shoots feature drawn-on freckles. 

So, if you want to enhance your freckles and embrace your natural skin, you can do so easily. These methods will allow you to embrace your freckles without the potential sun damage from sitting outside for too long. 

Draw On Freckles

You can easily draw on freckles with makeup or go over the freckles you already have with makeup.

For example, take an eyeliner or brow product that is similar to your natural shade of freckles.

Then, gently dot the product all over the face or body until you’re satisfied with your results.

Nowadays, there are special freckle pens on the market. These freckle pens are formulated to mimic the natural look of freckles. 

Focus On The Eyes 

Let your freckles speak for themselves and focus on your eyes. Creating a unique eye look can complement your freckles. What eyeshadow shade you choose can also help make your freckles pop and stand out. 

How To Diminish Freckles

Likewise, there is nothing wrong with trying to keep your freckles at bay. There are multiple ways you can reduce the appearance of freckles. This includes exfoliating, applying SPF, staying inside, or covering them with makeup.

It’s also crucial to note that freckles can fade away in winter or as you age. However, if you need some remedies for the summer, follow along. 

Stay In The Shade

The easiest way to diminish freckles is by staying inside or finding a shady area to relax. 

You can cover up with clothes, hats, sunglasses, and umbrellas. Reduced sun exposure will help reduce the appearance of freckles, especially in the summer.

Apply Foundation

If you’re looking to eliminate freckles temporarily, you can easily cover them with foundation. The best way to cover freckles is by applying a full coverage foundation and using a dense brush. This will ensure you achieve an even and opaque finish. 

Exfoliate Frequently

Frequent exfoliating and applying sunscreen daily will also reduce the appearance of freckles. You can use a chemical exfoliant at home that diminishes discoloration, or you can seek out a skincare specialist for a chemical peel.

How To Care For Sun Spots

You can care for sun spots almost like how you would care for freckles. However, prevention is critical when it comes to healing or treating sun spots. 

This is because sun spots will most likely show up later in life rather than when you’re young, like freckles. 

So, the best way to prevent sun spots is by applying sunscreen daily. You can also do other things for prevention like exfoliation, using antioxidant serums, and having a well-balanced diet. Another way is by minimizing sun exposure.

Minimize Sun Exposure 

Sun spots and freckles can be reduced or diminished by spending less time in the sun. Whether you stay protected in the shade or spend more time inside, your skin will thank you for it. 

Minimizing sun exposure is the best preventive measure. 

How To Diminish Sun Spots

You’ll notice the same methods you use to reduce freckles can also reduce or prevent sun spots. These methods include at-home skincare or even medical treatments provided by a skin care specialist. 


We’ve mentioned the importance of SPF numerous times in this piece. We know it can eliminate the appearance of sun spots, but it can do so much more. For example, SPF can protect your sun spots and stop cancerous cells from forming.

Thankfully, sun spots are usually harmless. However, if they change in size, appearance, texture, or color, it can lead to something serious down the road. So, don’t skip out on SPF. 

At-Home Exfoliation

You can incorporate chemical exfoliants in your routine or even a retinoid. These products will exfoliate the surface of the skin and promote new cell growth. 

You will only see results if you apply SPF consistently because retinoids and chemical exfoliants increase your sensitivity to the sun. Also, avoid mixing retinoids and chemical exfoliants because they can burn or damage your skin barrier. 

Brightening/Antioxidant Serums

Brightening and Antioxidant serums will combat harsh external factors and promote a brighter, more even complexion. These serums will be beneficial as a preventive measure to reduce the appearance of sun spots later on in life.

Chemical Peels

If you’re already struggling with sun spots, you can also perform chemical peels with a licensed skin professional. Chemical peels are a more powerful and effective method of exfoliation you do in a clinic rather than at-home treatments.

Chemical peels can promote more youthful skin and an even complexion, so you can slowly reduce sun spots. However, don’t forget your SPF.

Apply Concealer 

You can also eliminate sun spots with makeup. For example, all you need is a high coverage concealer to cover your spots. If you find that your sun spots are very pigmented, you can use a color corrector before your regular concealer.

Can Freckles and Sun Spots Pose Concern?

Freckles and sun spots are usually benign and harmless. However, there is a slight chance that they can develop into a more serious case. While the chances are minuscule, there is a possibility. Thankfully, you just need to monitor your skin.

For example, if you notice any physical changes in your freckles and sun spots, you may want to seek help from a dermatologist. If your freckles or spots change in color, size, or texture, it’s best to take charge and see your doctor immediately.

However, if your freckles and sun spots always look the same, they’re usually harmless. Most people live with freckles and sunspots without it affecting their daily lives. 

Talk To A Dermatologist 

A dermatologist is the best medical provider to help with freckles or sun spots. They can also guide you through proper treatments if you decide to eliminate them with more permanent methods like peels or lasers.

Also, a yearly check-up with the dermatologist will be helpful in keeping track of your freckles and sun spots. This routine appointment will keep you and your skin safe and ensure that no suspicious growths or irregularities occur.

Lastly, a dermatologist can put together an effective skincare routine for you to nourish your freckles or sun spots. 

The Takeaway 

Surprisingly enough, freckles and sun spots have many similarities. For example, they can both be produced by increased sun exposure and share similar treatments. They can also be diminished by SPF and exfoliation methods.

The MC1R gene usually causes freckles so they can appear due to genetics and environment. However, anyone can get sun spots from increased exposure.

Freckles are common among the youth, while sun spots appear in older generations. Freckles can potentially fade away with age or in winter. Meanwhile, sun spots tend to show up late in adulthood.

They both have a different appearance too. Thankfully, both freckles and sun spots are harmless. However, if you notice any changes or growths, it’s crucial to seek help from a dermatologist. 

Up Next: Best Face Washes For Dark Spots And Hyperpigmentation

You may also like

Leave a Comment