In a world where conformity is no longer a prerequisite for beauty, individual details are all the rage. The latest feature to steal the spotlight? Freckles. No longer considered an imperfection, women of all walks of life are choosing to embrace—not erase—their marks. For proof, we caught up with four major models who all agree: When it comes down to it, freckles can be your best accessory. Get ready to embrace (and admire) your hot spots!

Clockwise from left to right: Sabina Karlsson (27), Shelby Coleman (24), Yaminah Mayo (23), Anya Lyagoshina (20)

Freckles are known as your signature look. At what point did you truly begin to embrace them?
Sabina Karlsson: Growing up, I never really paid too much attention to my freckles. It was more when I started working as a model full-time, people started liking them. Now, they’re a part of me.
Shelby Coleman: At 14 when I first started modeling, I used to be a little embarrassed by my freckles. But once I got into [the business] everyone told me how great and unique they were. That’s when I started thinking of them as a good thing.
Yaminah Mayo: I never really had a problem with them. Yes, you get teased, but I was in [the] 4th grade the last time that happened. I think I really became aware of how rare they are my junior year [of] high school. When I transferred to a performing arts high school, the kids there really embraced anything that was cool, hip, or different.
Anya Lyagoshina: It’s my signature look for sure, but remember that when I was younger I used to hate them—just like many other kids. I tried to use lemon juice on my face to take them off, but it never worked, which I’m happy about now! When I started to model, I started getting many compliments about my freckles and at this point. I realized that it’s actually very cool to have something [that] makes you different from others.  

What do your freckles mean to you and how have they shaped your identity?
Sabrina: I love them and wouldn’t want to be without them. They make me special—every single freckle is special.
Shelby: They’re a part of me. The first thing most people notice about me is my freckles. They are a blessing and I love that people are always curious to know where or which parent I got them from. I’m part Irish [as well] so they also tell a story.
Yaminah: My freckles mean a lot to me because I get them from my paternal grandmother. When she moved to Los Angeles when I was six—we used to spend almost every weekend together. I could look in the mirror and see her, it’s literally history on my face.
Anya: I have a natural look because of them. During jobs, people like to keep them as they are and I love the feeling of fresh and natural skin. You feel more yourself with less makeup—and that’s great!

What advice would you give to someone having a hard time accepting their freckles?
Sabrina: You’ve been kissed by the sun and you’re special. Try to appreciate you, as there’s no one else like you. Sometimes you just want to look like everyone else—but don’t be afraid of being special!
Shelby: Be happy you have them! They’re cool and make you stand out. Sometimes people think that being cool means looking the same as everyone else, but having something not everyone else has is actually what makes you special.
Yaminah: Is anyone really fretting over having freckles nowadays? I feel like [singer-songwriter] SZA and the beauty market kind of kicked down that door. But if you are, you can’t get rid of them—so you might as well embrace the one thing that will forever set you apart from the group. It’s easier said than done but self-love really plays a [major] part acceptance.
Anya: Try to find something else to focus on. Understand that it’s a very unique thing that makes you special.

Often foundations and powders hide skin “imperfections,” which product do you love that let your freckles shine through?
Sabrina: Whenever I use foundation, I use Mary Kay’s Medium-Coverage Foundation, which I love. It doesn’t hide my freckles, it just evens out my skintone a bit and [it’s] not too heavy.
Shelby: The only thing I use on my skin is Laura Mercier’s Tinted Moisturizer.  It’s super light but still gives you coverage.
Yaminah: I really love Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer specifically in biscuit. It’s really great for dark circles and little troublesome spots. Lately, I’ve just been letting my skin breathe so I’ve just been using Rhassoul Clay Soap, Thayer’s Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner, and watermelon seed oil on my face.
Anya: For my daily routine, I don’t [wear] much makeup, and [I] don’t cover my freckles. Usually, it’s just mascara and maybe a bit of a lip. But, I always moisturize my skin and I love using thermal water during day time. [Editor’s Note: try Avène’s Thermal Spring Water]. I love when it’s summertime and [the] sun is shining, [because] I get more and more [freckles] every day. It’s my type of tanning.

Freckles have become the “new beauty mark.” What do you think about this growing trend?
Sabrina: If it’s becoming a trend, it’s great that they’re highlighting the beauty of freckles. Maybe more people with freckles can start appreciating them more!
Shelby: I heard that some people are actually drawing on fake freckles now! I love it. It’s about time people realize how beautiful freckles are. All the more reason for those who have real ones to love and embrace them.
Yaminah: It’s so annoying. I just have to be explicit in saying that. I don’t really understand how “skin conditions” have become beauty trends over the past few years. Just because you like something doesn’t necessarily mean you need to participate in it. True love is appreciation not seizure. That’s it. *zips lips*
Anya: It’s trendy to have something very special now. It can be a haircut, the way you dress or even freckles. When people keep my freckles or make them brighter, [that] means that natural beauty is still the most wanted thing.  [That’s] very important in our modern world, where people want to have everything perfect. Imperfections are the best!  

Fill in the blank: My freckles are ______.
Sabrina: Unique
Shelby: Exquisite.
Yaminah: Alluring.
Anya: My boyfriend’s favorite thing. [Laughs]

—Janell Hickman

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FRECKLES, EXPLAINED
Let’s face it: Freckles have taken center stage in the world of beauty and there’s no turning back. Women are drawing them on without fail and celebrities, such as Alicia Keys, who recently committed to a makeup-free regime, are showing off their sun-kissed dots for the world to see. And Alia S. Brown, M.D. an Atlanta-based board-certified dermatologist, (a freckled gal herself, may we add), gave us the low-down on by answering our freckled questions with hard-medical facts. 

The Tai Life: How do people get freckles in the first place? How do they form?
Alia S. Brown: When individuals who have a genetic predisposition to developing freckles are exposed to ultraviolet radiation, the melanocytes (pigment producing cells) become activated. This produces concentrated aggregates of pigment in those sites.

TTL: Should people with freckles use more sun protection than others who do not? Why or why not?
ASB: Traditionally, individuals with freckles have less melanin (pigment) and are therefore more susceptible to the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation, such as premature aging and skin cancer. [As a result, they] should use a sun protection factor of at least 30 daily.

TTL: Why do freckles become more pronounced when they are exposed to the sun?
ASB: When [a person is] exposed to the sun early in life, melanocytes (pigment producing cells) [are] activated and produce pigment. They usually occur on [the face] but after repeated sun exposure, some [people] develop freckles on any sun exposed body surface, such as [the] chest, legs and arms.

TTL: Is it possible to distinguish freckles from other spots on the face and/or body?
ASB: Yes, freckles are different from nevi (moles), which have [an] increased number of melanocytes (pigment producing cells) and have a greater propensity to become atypical or precancerous from repeated sun exposure. Freckles have overactive melanocytes producing globules of pigment at those sun exposed sites and may become darker or multiply with repeated exposure to the sun.

—Chinwe Onuoha