“Retinol helps increase cell turnover and therefore helps to lighten freckles,” explains clean cosmetic chemist Kripa Kostline. This means that the freckles are actually just a sunspot in a different shape.
In some people, the excess of melanin caused by UV exposure can spread freckles, while sunburn is a common result for others. Because board-certified dermatologist Loretta Ciraldo, MD, FAAD previously told mbg that the ability to freckle is genetic. We’ve covered how freckles are made before, so feel free to check it out if you want to know more. But basically, if your freckles are induced by photodamage of the skin (which is genetically determined and in contrast to the tendency to appear in infancy), you will see them fade with products that increase cell turnover.
Perhaps there is another layer to this: If you use retinol or retinoids, your skin is more likely to burn. “Sunscreen with retinol should be used diligently with retinol to avoid further pigmentation and pimples,” says Coastline. So while retinol or retinoids can accelerate the fading of freckles, increased sun protection can play an important role in darkening your existing freckles and preventing the development of new ones.
Either way, it seems that if you use vitamin A topical products, sunscreen and practice sun care in general, you are more likely to experience faded freckles.