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Have You Heard Of This Retinol Side Effect? Even We Were Surprised

“Retinol helps increase cell turnover and therefore can help lighten freckles,” clean cosmetic chemist Krupa Koestline explains. This makes sense, given that freckles are actually just a sun spot in a different form.

In some people, the excess of melanin caused by UV exposure can appear as a spread of freckles, while sun spots are the typical result for others. This is because the ability to freckle is genetic, as board-certified dermatologist Loretta Ciraldo, M.D., FAAD, previously told mbg. We’ve covered how freckles develop before, so feel free to check that out if you want to learn more. But essentially, if your freckles are induced by photodamage of the skin (as opposed to the ones that are genetically determined and tend to appear during early childhood), you may see them fade with products that increase cell turnover.

Perhaps there’s another layer to this topic: If you use retinol or retinoids, your skin is more likely to burn. “Sunscreen should be used diligently with retinol in order to avoid further pigmentation and rash,” Koestline says. So while the retinol or retinoid may accelerate the fading of freckles, the increased sun protection may also play a significant role in preventing your present freckles from getting darker and the development of new ones.

Either way, it seems that you’re more likely to experience fading freckles if you’re using a vitamin A topical product, sunscreen, and practicing sun care in general.

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