The Best Freckle Removal Cream: How It Works, What to Look for, and Skincare Tips for People with Freckles
Let’s start here: we think freckles are absolutely fantastic. They can be cute, they can be sassy, they can be sophisticated, and many of the people we’ve talked to equate them with youth and youthfulness. As we mentioned in our post about how to use foundation with freckles, of all the people in the world, no one else in the universe has the unique freckles that you do, and there’s something awesome and amazing about that.
We’ll tell you all about removal creams in a minute—and discuss our picks for the best freckle removal cream—but we want to start with that statement of fact, because we’ve met enough people who have freckles and wish they didn’t, and that’s just silly.
That said, we understand that everyone has their own personal expectations and desires for how they want their skin to look, and many people simply like being able to accentuate their freckles on some days, and hide them on other days. If you want to reduce the appearance of your freckles, freckle removal products can be helpful. Here we’ll go over the A-to-Z of freckle removal creams, including our top picks, and FAQs that people often have about this product.
By the way, we've also written a post about the best foundations for freckles. Check it out if you'd like to learn about another way to work with your freckles.
Removers: Quick Picks and Summaries
Here are our favorites, along with a quick description of why we think they’re noteworthy:
Organys Skin Brightening Cream: a solid "drugstore" pick for reducing the appearance of freckles and spots;
Kiss Red E Anti-Aging Skin Whitening Creme: a freckle-remover with anti-aging features, that can be used both during the day and as a night cream;
Beauty Facial Extreme Dark Spot Corrector: a versatile mid-range option that reduces the appearance of freckles, and our best pick for men;
ACTIVSCIENCE Brightening Cream for Face and Body: another versatile option for freckles, melasma, hyperpigmentation, and sun spots, good for use on both face and body;
Tetyana Dark Spot Corrector Brightening Serum: contains powerful freckle-reducing and spot-correcting ingredients, including acne-fighting ingredients;
Luxury by Sofia Vitamin C Face Creme: designed to be gentle on the skin; the most organic option we've found.
…and here’s an in-depth look at each:
The Best Freckle Removal Creams: Our Reviews
Here’s the good news: freckle removal creams have come a long way in the last few years, and there are a lot of options. It used to be that they were pretty much all harsh (and stinky, too!), but that’s not (always) the case anymore. All of the options we present below are formulated with skincare ingredients, and designed to reduce the appearance of freckles (and many are designed to reduce other skin conditions, like dark spots, age spots, and acne scars, as well). We’ve looked for products that each offer something unique, so check out our summary at the end of each review to find our recommendations.
Organys Skin Brightening Cream
- Ethically sourced and transparent with the ingredients;
- Uses well-known and natural ingredients, in addition to several chemical compounds; and
- Paraben-free, fragrance-free, and not tested on animals.
- It does contain alcohol, which can dry out the skin and cause reactions for people with sensitive skin.
Organys’ Skin Brightening Cream is a daily moisturizing cream that is intended to be used in addition to the current moisturizer in your skin routine. Organys, as a company, seems devoted to using organic, eco-friendly products, but what we like most about the product is that it includes jojoba oil, which is a natural anti-inflammatory that’s moisturizing, antibacterial, non-comedogenic, and packed with vitamin E. Jojoba oil is excellent for skincare and can help minimize the appearance of scarring and discoloration. It’s also got some other nice ingredients, like peppermint leaf and green tea extract, and that’s really nice to see—so often, removal creams go really heavy on harsh-sounding chemicals, and skip ingredients that revitalize the skin.
Our recommendation for: people looking to treat discoloration, melasma, and freckles who want a “drugstore”-type formulation.
Kiss Red E Anti-Aging Skin Whitening Creme
- It’s intended for day and/or night usage;
- It doubles as a moisturizer for your skin, and is one of the few remover creams that discusses anti-aging; and
- The product is very thick and comes in a large container, which can make it last for a long time.
- Features alpha hydroxy acid, which can make your skin more susceptible to UV radiation, requiring you to use them with a sunscreen.
Kiss Red E's Anti-Aging Skin Whitening Cream is devised with anti-aging properties in mind, making it a good option for people who are experiencing age spots or who would like to improve skin elasticity. That’s another nice feature, because there are a lot of removal creams / brighteners that don’t focus on anti-aging concerns.
The one thing we need to mention is that Kiss Red E uses alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), an agent that is frequently used for lightening dark spots on your skin surface, and while it is effective, studies have shown that it can increase your skin's sensitivity to UV rays. With this in mind, it is important to practice good sun protection techniques when using creams that contain AHA and for a week after use is discontinued.
Recommended for: those looking for a whitening cream to treat freckles, miscellaneous dark spots, age spots, and acne scarring, who are also looking for anti-aging features; can double as a night cream.
Beauty Facial Extreme Dark Spot Corrector
- Formulation includes natural vitamins and antioxidants—designed to nourish skin while also lightening dark spots;
- Multipurpose: the active ingredients in this product also serve to even out discoloration caused by scarring and acne scars; and
- Recommended for all skin types, and for use by men.
- Significantly increases your skin's vulnerability to UV rays. It's recommended that you use a sunscreen or moisturizer with at least SPF 45 with this product.
Beauty Facial Extreme’s Dark Spot Corrector is a facial cream designed to fade and reduce freckles and “the big three:” hyperpigmentation, dark spots, and acne scars, but it’s also got a lot of nice additional ingredients included to moisturize your skin. There are a lot of skin brighteners/removers out there that are rough, rough, rough, so we think it’s very nice that BFE takes sensitive skin into consideration, and avoids many of the harsh chemicals that are known to dry out the skin.
Recommended for: Those looking to reduce freckles, age spots, acne spots/scars, and dark spots, and those looking for a mid-range option. Our pick for best freckle remover cream for men.
ACTIVSCIENCE Brightening Cream for Face and Body
- Formulated with gentle ingredients to accommodate people of all skin types (oily, dry, sensitive);
- Encourages the production of collagen, the protein responsible for skin elasticity; and
- Free of dyes, parabens, and silicone, AND cruelty free and vegan friendly—wonderful!
- Uses natural ingredients that can cause allergic reactions for people with food allergies. Consult the ingredient list before purchasing if you’ve got food allergies;
- Need to pair the cream with a sunblock with adequate SPF.
ACTIVSCIENCE’s Brightening Cream for Face and Body is a day- or night-time cream that penetrates the skin and encourages collagen production—that’s a VERY nice feature, that’s not included in a lot of freckle removal creams / brightening products. ACTIVSCIENCE developed the product in collaboration with dermatologists, and includes ingredients like shea butter, aloe vera, and avocado oil to moisturize skin, and omitted dyes, parabens, and silicones, which can irritate some peoples’ skin.
This is another versatile formulation, that’s good for both face-and-body use, on all skin types, for both men and women. Multi-faceted!
Recommended for: both face and body use, and people looking to fight freckles, melasma, hyperpigmentation, and sun spots.
Tetyana Dark Spot Corrector Brightening Serum
- Uses very strong skin lightening agents to inhibit melanin production, while also moisturize skin; and
- Includes salicylic acid, an ingredient uses in acne medications.
- Salicylic acid, lactic acid, and kojic acid in this serum can dry out the skin in some users.
In terms of ingredients, Tetyana’s Dark Spot Corrector Brightening Serum packs a punch, and it uses some very intense spot-correcting agents. The main ingredient is a clinical-strength ingredient called butyl resorcinol, which is an agent that is highly effective in skin-lightening treatments. It’s often used as an alternative to hydroquinone, which can be tough on the skin. The butyl resorcinol is paired with lactic acid and kojic acid, which are also used for skin lightening and the inhibition of melanin production. On top of all that, it includes salicylic acid, which is one of the most common ingredients used in acne-fighting medications.
As with all freckle removal creams and spot correctors, we’d urge you to exercise a little caution if you have sensitive skin—the ingredients included can be very strong.
Recommended for: people looking to treat freckles, dark spots, age spots, sun spots, and acne scars, who want a formulation that includes ingredients known to fight acne (salicylic acid). This gets our pick for best freckle removal cream overall.
Luxury by Sofia Vitamin C Face Creme
- Unique formulation—it’s very, very rare to find all-natural freckle remover / fine-line-and-discoloration remover;
- Designed to boost the elasticity and collagen production of the skin;
- The formula is 15% vitamin C and designed to fight discoloration, hyperpigmentation, sun spots, and brown spots; and
- 97% of the ingredients are natural, with 65% of the ingredients being organic, and the product is paraben-free, artificial fragrance-free, and not tested on animals.
- The formula is rather gentle, and the removal of dark spots and the evening of complexion may be a more subtle than many other products.
If you’re looking for a gentler, more natural freckle remover / spot corrector, this would be our pick: Luxury by Sofia’s Vitamin C Face Cream.
Luxury by Sofia is a small, U.S.-based company that produces luxury skin care products with natural ingredients, with a focus on organic, cruelty-free, and GMO-free ingredients, and it’s wonderful to see all that in a freckle remover—freckle removers have a reputation as being kind of harsh, so it’s really nice to see an option that’s formulated to be a little more gentle and earth-friendly.
The product itself is a daily moisturizer designed to boost the overall health of your skin and even out complexion inconsistencies. It’s packed with a wide range of nutrients, all with skincare features, from shea butter, to jojoba oil, to green tea, to aloe vera extract, to dandelion and geranium extract, to safflower oil—and again, it’s rare to see all of that in a freckle remover.
This may not be the most powerful freckle remover / spot corrector / color corrector on our list, but it’s gentle, designed for all skin types and tones, and has a lot of hydrating/nourishing features, and all that makes it a rare find.
Recommended for: those seeking an all-natural, organic moisturizer to nourish the skin, brighten the complexion, and subtly even out discoloration.
Everything You Need to Know About Freckle Removal Cream
So, let’s get into the nitty-gritty, and take a very close look at freckle creams. Ultimately, people use freckle removal creams to:
- Remove or reduce the appearance of freckles;
- Attain results over a period of time, with continuous use; and
- Remove or reduce freckles in a way that does not involve clinical procedures.
If that’s what you’re looking for, great! Here is everything you need to know about freckle removal creams:
How Does Freckle Removal Cream Work?
Different freckles creams use different ingredients to reduce or remove freckles, and they all work in different ways. Here are some of the most common types of ingredients that you can encounter in a dark spot removal product, along with how they work:
Hydroquinone inhibits melanin production on a cellular level. In effect, it bleaches the skin (and some people like that, and some don’t). Hydroquinone is carefully regulated in most countries, with some countries mandating a prescription for its use;
Kojic acid also inhibits melanin production but is not as hyper-effective as hydroquinone;
Alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids are acids that exfoliate the skin surface. They work on a cellular level to make dead skin slough off. Skin cells beneath the dead skin tend to be lighter in color, particularly if your dark spots are caused by environmental factors, like sunspots/freckles;
Retinol is a type of vitamin A, which encourages the cycle of skin cell production. Retinol has been shown to fade hyperpigmentation and can also help boost the firmness of the skin; and
Vitamin C interrupts melanin formation when applied topically, which can even out skin tone and prevent new spots from forming.
How Long Does Freckle Removal Cream Take to Work?
So, here’s the bad news: it depends, both on the formula of the product and your skin’s biology. You may see improvement within a matter of days, or it may take months, and in some cases, people do not experience any change in their skin whatsoever. Everyone is different, and how products react with your skin will vary drastically from person to person. It’s sad but true, but we want to be very clear about that: “your results may vary,” as they say.
Are There Risks to Using Freckle Removal Cream?
More bad news: yes, there can be risks involved with using freckle removal cream. Some of the ingredients used in freckle removal creams can be harsh on your skin—after all, you’re trying to remove a feature of your skin!—and some of the more intense skin lightening ingredients, such as hydroquinone, can cause skin damage and effects that are difficult or impossible to reverse.
So it’s very, very important that you choose your removal cream wisely, and opt for a product from a company you trust—one that creates its products according to regulatory standards. Some countries have some lax laws when it comes to ingredient regulation, and they can produce some less-than-ideal removers, and there are also some easily-obtained products on the market that are not quite transparent about the ingredients that they put in their products. In fact, a recent investigation found that many products advertised as “skin lighteners” contained mercury, a chemical compound that is bad for you, to say the least, so, for real—read ingredient lists and know what you’re putting on your face. We talk more about that in our “How to Choose a Remover” section below.
Are There Other Ways to Remove Freckles?
The short answer is yes: there are ways to remove freckles and dark spots without specialized creams or serums. Many of those removal methods, like such a cryosurgery, laser treatments, and photofacials, are medical procedures that require medical supervision, and as we’ve mentioned once or twice, while we here at Makeup Artist Essentials are knowledgeable about the world of skincare and cosmetics, we are not doctors, and you’ll need to talk to your dermatologist about other options for freckle reduction or removal that might be available to you.
How to Choose a Freckle Removal Cream
So… did we mention that we’re not doctors? We did? A couple times? And you’re tired of reading it again and again? OK, right. Sorry. We’ll probably mention it a few times again, so bear with us! We apologize in advance. Not doctors.
If you decide that you do want to try freckle or dark spot removal creams, there are a few factors to consider / steps to take before you settle on a product:
Determine Your Skin Type
As with any skincare products, it's important to take into consideration the natural texture of your skin. Dry, combination, normal, and oily skin all come with a variety of different needs when it comes to appropriate skincare:
Dry. People with dry skin should be aware of alcohol content and other harsh chemicals in formulas that may exacerbate the dryness of their skin surface.
Combination. People with combination skin experience dryness in some places and oiliness and others. It is particularly hard to accommodate for combination skin because it can be a balancing act between what can dry your skin out or what can make it more oily. People with combination skin generally benefit from non-comedogenic products that double as lightweight moisturizers, and that’s a term you may want to look out for.
Normal. Ironically, people with "normal" skin are… kind of rare! Normal skin simply means that you do not experience an excess of dryness or an excess of oiliness. Barring consideration for skin sensitivity and personal allergies, people with normal skin can usually find and use in a wide array of products.
Oily. People with oily skin experience an overproduction of the natural oils of your skin, called sebum, and excessively oily skin can increase the chances of acne breakouts. People with oily skin should be aware of the balance of oils used in their products and may even want to lean towards products that have drying agents in them.
Consider Your Skin Tone
Freckle removal creams are designed to lift melanin from places where there is an overproduction, thus “lightening” those spots.
However, some skin lightening products contain an ingredient known as hydroquinone. Hydroquinone is a powerful skin lightening agent that serves to lift natural amounts of melanin from the skin cells that naturally produce it. This means that people with dark skin have melanin lifted from their skin, essentially bleaching it. If that concerns you, talk to a doctor or dermatologist before using a product with hydroquinone.
Keep in mind, not all freckle and dark spot removers possess hydroquinone, and it’s strictly regulated in the U.S., so you’ll need to go to a dermatologist for a product that includes higher levels of it.
Observe the Type of Discoloration
Let’s be honest: with a lot of skincare products, we jump right in and choose whatever interests us. Freckle remover cream is a little different, however, and you want to make sure you opt for a product that actually matches your need. The type of dark spots or discoloration that you experience can determine which product is right for you, so when considering products, be sure to carefully read the description of the product and consider researching reviews to make sure that the type of discoloration you are hoping to correct is something that the product can help with.
Consider Sensitive-Skin Options…
Some dark spot correctors use various alcohols and acids to induce the skin lightening process or promote melanin inhibition to prevent future dark spots, which can cause irritation in people with sensitive skin. If you’re worried about any kind of reaction, look for something in the marketing language that mentions “sensitive skin.” It also makes sense to look for the terms, “dermatologist tested.” While it isn’t a sure thing—and again, a well-known company with a good reputation is your best bet—it can signify that the manufacturer has made an effort to create a gentler formulation.
If you’ve got sensitive skin, we’d also urge you to look for the following word in the ingredient list: “fragrance.” Cosmetics companies in the U.S. aren’t required to list the chemicals they use in their fragrances, and some of the ingredients used in fragrance can really irritate your skin. And, because freckle removers can sometimes have a—how should we put this?—strong aroma—“fragrance” is a really common ingredient in freckle removers. So if you’ve got sensitive skin, it can make sense to look for a sensitive skin option that DOES NOT have the word “fragrance” in the ingredient list.
Some freckle removal creams and serums use natural ingredients, and that can provide some protection, and when you’re dealing with a product known to be harsh, that can be a nice plus. There are a range of wonderful ingredients, from olive oil, to sunflower oil, to shea butter, to mango seed butter, to aloe vera, to Vitamin E, and so on—and those can provide some restorative properties.
However, when you’re dealing with those natural ingredients, you’ll want to…
Keep in Mind Any Allergies You May Have
Natural ingredients are wonderful for many of us, but can be dangerous for some people with allergies. For example, almond oil is an excellent source of vitamin D that helps protect your skin from UV radiation damage, but if you’ve got an allergy to tree nuts, you’ll want to stay away from it. If you have any known allergies, be sure to consult the ingredient list of products. And, of course, it is always a good idea to perform a patch test before applying any new skin product.
Read the Label and Consider the Reputation of the Brand
We mentioned this above, but it bears repeating: some of the ingredients included in freckle removal creams can be very hard on the skin—and while cosmetics companies are fairly well-regulated in the United States, it can be very wise to only buy products from companies you trust, and to read all the ingredients in the ingredients list. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” as they say, and because removal creams can be challenging to your skin, it makes sense to go with a reputable brand that’s put a lot of effort and money into their product.
Skin Care Tips for People with Freckles
So now you know a lot about freckle removal creams, including our pick for best freckle removal cream overall. Now let’s take a look at the most important thing: some tips on how to take care of your skin when you’ve got freckles.
Sun Protection and Freckle Prevention
While there are genetic factors at play, freckles are caused by exposure to sunlight (source), and when it comes to preventing them from forming, the primary objective is to avoid damage from UV rays. Protection from UV rays is even more critical in the modern era, as NASA has observed that UV radiation has actually increased over time. Sad but true.
There are several ways that you can protect yourself from sun rays, and we’d urge you to do all of them. You can and should:
Use SPF sunscreen. SPF stands for “Sun Protection Factor,” and using a sunscreen with SPF is the first line of defense against UV rays. Most professionals recommend you use SPF 30, which allows 3% of UV rays to hit your skin, or SPF 50, which allows 2% of UV rays to hit your skin.
Apply, re-apply, and re-re-apply! We get it: it is way too easy to forget to reapply sunscreen, especially when we’re getting our party on outdoors. But it is important to take the time to rub yourself up with sunblock every two hours. Otherwise, you expose yourself to UV damage and defeat the purpose of wearing protection in the first place.
Avoid the sun around midday. During the summer months, the sun is strongest between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm. In other seasons, this time frame is smaller as the daylight hours are shorter. To estimate the sun’s intensity, try the shadow test: if your shadow is shorter than you are, the sun’s rays are in that daytime UV hotspot.
Take advantage of shaded areas. Whether it be an umbrella at the beach or a tree at the park, shade is your best friend when you are trying to avoid direct contact with UV rays.
Find yourself a hat. Hats are an easy way to ensure that your face stays in the shade: wide brim hats can even help protect your shoulders, which is another place that’s prone to freckling. If hats aren’t your thing, you could always take a page out of a Victorian noble woman’s book and carry around a parasol. Chic!
See a Dermatologist Regularly
In case we haven't been heavy-handed enough with our recommendation to see a dermatologist for any skin concerns you may have, we will say it again: please consult with a dermatologist if:
- Dark spots appear that are new or unexpected;
- Existing dark spots change shape or color;
- Dark spots possess raised borders or have a strange texture;
- A single dark spot has multiple colors in the same mark;
- You are prone to freckling or have many moles; and/or
- You have literally any other concern regarding your skin.
If you are a person with freckles or moles, you have a higher likelihood of not noticing the appearance of a mark that is concerning, such as melanoma. Be good to yourself and your skin by consulting a dermatologist for anything you are unsure about and for regular check-ups.
Freckles and Cosmetics
We write most of our content for people who want to learn more about makeup, but if you’re here because you want to become a makeup artist, we’d urge you learn as much as you can about freckles and how to work with. Clients—especially clients hiring makeup artists for big events—usually have a lot of questions about working with / covering / removing their freckles, and having an understanding of the topic can be very helpful both for your business and for the people you’re working with. We hope this helps—good luck, have fun, and happy makeup!