Everyone wants what they can’t have. 

Today on my envy list: freckles—those specks of extra melanin production that appear after sun exposure or from genetics. I’ve always wanted them but never seemed to able to get them. That was, of course, before I learned about the magic of makeup.

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I tested three ways to Fake the Freckle. But it isn’t so easy. Below is my tumultuous journey with three products. Take heed and learn from my mistakes.

The natural-looking one

I’ve watched so many beauty gurus, spent so many late nights browsing YouTube, that I tend to think I am a makeup expert. Full disclosure, I am not an expert nor can I pretend to be one. It takes only one bad experience to bring me back down to Earth.

The first product I tried was built for the specific purpose of applying faux-freckles. Freck, $22, comes in a tiny cylindrical container with a small brush tip and claims to be the original freckle cosmetic. After I saw YouTuber, Alissa Ashley use this, I knew I needed it and I assumed it’d be easy. I was soon humbled to learn it takes some practice.

When I first received the package in the mail, I ripped it open and immediately tried it out. I lightly dotted the tip in clusters of 3-5 around my cheeks and the bridge of my nose and stood back to look at my masterpiece.

*Record scratch*

The dots were way too dark, and I mean waaay too dark. They looked like horribly deep black-heads, the kind of black-heads you see on Dr. Pimple Popper’s YouTube, the kind that require medical attention. Defeated, I took them off with a makeup wipe and set Freck aside for a couple of days.

I returned to it about a week later with new conviction to get it right. I learned to dab the spots with my finger to lighten the freckles. But be careful, dab too early and the entire spot comes off, dab too late and the freckle won’t budge. Timing is key. After my third try, I think I got it down. I set it with a finishing powder, something with a little color to help diffuse and soften the look. The result wasn’t half bad, not to brag. I felt accomplished so I took my new freckled face to the roof and took some self-indulgent selfies.

Freck, takes some getting used to, but in the end, it was the most natural-looking option. Take your time and be aware that it can be a bit of a mess if you’re not careful.

The cartoonish one

I moved on to a brow pencil, specifically L’Oréal Paris Makeup Brow Pencil, $8.99. I dotted it on my face and twisted like I’ve seen countless beauty gurus do. And nothing. There was no color whatsoever on my skin.

I figured maybe I needed a face of foundation and powder for it to show up, so I swiped on some of my <Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation StickLooking much more even and beige, I went back in with the eyebrow pencil and used my previous technique. I alternated between light brunette and dark blonde to give it some natural-looking variation. It worked but the freckles ended up far too uniform and rounded. I looked like the cartoon-version of Pippi Longstocking, like I had some rare skin condition.

It wasn’t good but I took some selfies to document my failure. To be fair this product was never meant to be used in this way, I can attest to its value as a brow product though. It’s very good for that.

The subtle one

Learning from my previous mistakes, I went into the next product a seasoned veteran. I applied my foundation, set it with powder and took Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Brow Color, Medium, $21, in light to apply the freckles. I varied the angle and the pressure to mimic the natural variation of real freckles.

The result was the most subtle of all the techniques I tried. It had that barely-there look that I so enjoy.

TLDR;

At the end of the day, what did I learn: that beauty gurus make everything look easier, that achieving a natural-looking freckle isn’t easy, that I am not as good at makeup as I imagine and that maybe I should be satisfied with my natural non-freckled face.

Freck, if you can get the hang of it is probably your best bet. The other products should probably be left to do what they were made to dofill in brows.