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Freckles are small, flat, brownish or reddish spots on the skin that are often found on the face, arms and shoulders. For years, the small beauty marks were often associated with people of fairer skin tones and individuals with red or blonde hair. But evolution has shown that Black people can have freckles, too.
Big celebrities like SZA, Sade and model Adwoa Adoba adorn the unique beauty trait. So, how did they obtain their gorgeous freckled attributes? Here’s what we know about the unique Black beauty trait.
What are Freckles?
Freckles are caused by an increase in melanin, the pigment that gives our skin its color. According to a 2001 study published in Human Molecular Genetics, scientists believe that the melanocortin-1-receptor (MC1R) gene, which is responsible for human pigmentation, plays an important role in the formation of freckles. When the receptor goes into overproduction, it can cause the skin to experience spots or hyperpigmentation.
Freckles are a genetic trait that can be passed down through families. They are more likely to occur in people with a family history of freckles. They can also be triggered by exposure to sunlight, which can cause the melanin in the skin to increase and produce more freckles.
Melanin, produced by skin cells called melanocytes, protects your skin from sun damage by absorbing and reflecting ultraviolet light (UV). If you have a light or fair complexion, your melanocytes make more melanin when your skin is exposed to the sun. Instead of tanning, you’re more likely to develop freckles, according to Cleveland Clinic.
Freckles in Black people are usually smaller and less noticeable than in people with fair skin.
There are two types of freckles
Black people can have two types of freckles. Ephelides are flat and usually red or tan-to-brown in color. Ephelides are the freckles that most people think of when they hear the word “freckle.” Sun exposure and sunburns mainly cause them. They typically appear on the face, arms, upper chest and back. People with lighter hair color and skin color are more prone to ephelides.
Solar lentigines are yellow to red and brown freckles that can develop on the skin. The Cleveland Clinic notes that “they’re also called actinic lentigines, liver spots or age spots, as they usually develop in adults over age 40.”
Prolonged exposure to the sun can cause them to develop on areas of the skin.
People with freckles must protect their skin from UV exposure
It is also important to protect the skin from the harmful effects of sunlight, especially if you are a Black person with freckles. Sun exposure can cause freckles to become darker and more prominent, as well as increase the risk of skin cancer. It is important to wear protective clothing, such as hats and long-sleeved shirts and use sunscreen with a high SPF to protect the skin from the sun’s harmful rays.
Black people with freckles are natural and downright beautiful. While they may be less common than in people with fair skin, they are still a genetic trait that highlights the beauty of Blackness in all of its wonder and glory.