When Prince Harry announced his engagement to Meghan Markle last year, Ally Meadows looked at photographs of the smiling couple and thought to herself: That woman's got great freckles.
"I've always loved freckles and hers were just so cute!" Meadows, a 28-year-old hairdresser from Los Angeles, tells BAZAAR.com. "I love how sparse they were on her nose and forehead and, just, very subtle. She's so naturally pretty."
After seeing Meghan's freckles showing through her barely-there wedding makeup, the freckle-less Meadows decided she needed some of her own.
"Everyone [after the wedding] was giving Meghan crap about looking natural, but I thought she looked beautiful and stunning, I was like 'Oh my gosh, this girl's so gorgeous,'" she says. "I started Googling 'Meghan Markle no makeup' to find an inspiration photo to bring [to the tattoo parlor]."
With a printout of Meghan in tow, Meadows visited Clandestine Rabbit Tattoo & Piercing in Tarzana, California for a 45-minute procedure her artist called "freckling." It's basically like getting a tattoo, except using pigment that fades over time over ink. Each freckle is hand "poked" using a needle instead of a tattoo gun.
Meadows now has 20 faux freckles total — a cluster on her cheeks, nose, and forehead — that can last anywhere from a couple months to a few years, depending on a variety of factors like skincare routine and sun exposure.
"I got a couple on my forehead, [because Meghan] has a couple on her forehead," she explains. "I'm obsessed, I think it's so stinking cute."
Faux freckle tattooing has risen in popularity since the royal wedding. Just search #freckletattoo on Instagram — you'll find thousands of formerly freckle-less women with newly tatted faces.
"I receive emails, DMs, and phone calls every day regarding freckle tattoos. There is definitely a trend right now to look as natural, youthful, and fresh faced as possible," Bethany Wolosky, 30, who has freckled more than 50 clients at Cosmetic Tattoo in Brooklyn, and about 20 since the royal wedding, tells BAZAAR.com. "Freckle tattoos help achieve this without the negative consequences of actually spending time in the sun. [They're] also a great way to camouflage or detract from acne scarring or hyper pigmentation."
Wolosky says the amount of time faux freckles last really "depends on your skin, how quickly your body metabolizes the pigment, sun expose, and products used on the skin. Harsh and exfoliating products will make them fade faster."
Before committing to her face tat, Meadows drew on freckles with eyeliner for weeks, to "make sure it's what I really wanted," she explains. "They made me feel more confident, and I got so many compliments!"
When she arrived at Clandestine Rabbit last Tuesday, Meadows — who has 19 other tattoos — directed the artist to the exact spots on her face where she wanted the marks.
"They were pretty dark at first and after a bit they kind of scabbed up like a tattoo would and once they healed they lightened up a little bit," she says. "Now, you can see them whether I have makeup on or not."
Meadows cautions that the process was more painful than getting a regular tattoo. "I felt every little poke, and it's a lot slower than a gun would go," she explains. "The bridge of my nose hurt the most and made my eyes water."
But the end result was worth it, she says. When Meadows got home and looked in the mirror, she teared up — and this time it wasn't from the pain. "I was obsessed and I still am," she says. "I took a photo and sent it to the artist who did them and was like, 'Thank you so much!'"
At first, her friends called her "crazy" for getting faux-freckles, but when they saw the healed result, they "thought it looked so natural and awesome," says Meadows. "I would recommend it to anyone, I think it's so cute."
"I'm definitely thinking of going back to get some more."
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