This is the real reason some people have freckles

By Samantha Luiz
11 April 2016

Spoiler alert: freckles are not angel kisses.

Contrary to what you may have been told, freckles are not angel kisses. Nor are they stars of the night sky sparkling on your cheeks.

A photo posted by Brock Elbank (@mrelbank) on

In a fascinating and informative video, YouTube series SciShow explains the real reason some people have freckles. And it's all down to melanin.

According to the channel, which shares science-related videos on the platform, freckles are small patches of skin that contain higher levels of melanin, the pigment that is responsible for our skin, eyes and hair colour. The pigment is produced by melanocytes, skin cells that act as a natural sunblock, "darkening your skin and protecting you from the sun's dangerous UV rays". That's right, freckles help protect from the sun! As the video explains, melanin is evenly distributed throughout the skin for some people.

"For freckles to appear, melanin forms in little clumps which get darker when exposed to sunlight."

And this why your freckles tend to fade in the winter time.

Also, nobody is born with freckles. Instead, they appear after spending time in the sun. Read more: Be smart in the sun! But freckles are not to be confused with lentigines (liver spots). "In lentigines, the skin contains more melanocyte cells and they don't normally change much depending on your exposure to sunlight."

A photo posted by Nadia_Etana (@erykahtaughtme__) on

Freckles are also linked to a "key genetic player" in regulating your skin and hair colour, the gene MC1R.

This gene is said to control which kind of melanin you produce, either eumelanin or pheomelanin. Eumelanin leads to darker hair and skin that protects against the sun. On the other hand if you have pheomelanin, you're most likely to have a fairer skin, blonde or red hair, and freckles. But this does not mean that all people with red hair have freckles. Nor do all freckled people have red hair.

Red hair is a recessive trait while freckles are a dominant trait, "so there's likely more genes at work here than MCR1". Apart from their protective measures, freckles have become a growing make-up trend, with more people drawing them on! Read more: The surprising reason we close our eyes when we kiss

As make-up blogger Sharifa Easmin puts it, "Maybe she's born with it...maybe she drew them on." Read more: There’s actually a really important reason for the little hole in pen lids Read more: The reason men really shouldn’t be carrying their cellphone in their pocket

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