Well before Meghan Markle became the soon-to-be Duchess of Sussex and the international spotlight shone on her, the former Suits actress was setting the bar for #beautygoals with her signature, stunning style. Mirroring her love of leading a healthy lifestyle (her mom is a yoga teacher, after all), Markle’s look centers around natural, glowing skin, her radiant smile, and, of course, her freckles. She even told HELLO! in September 2015 that she steers clear of bold makeup, joking, “Putting on red lipstick to me is a risk,” and attributing her “casual sensibility” to being born and raised in L.A.
Since then, Markle has experienced major life changes that have landed her a royal husband, a title and, of course, a newborn son who was born this past spring. But whether she was walking down the aisle at St. George’s Chapel or presenting Baby Archie to the world in the halls of Windsor Castle, Duchess has only continued to make an impression with her natural style, which has put what she’s called her “favorite feature”—those California girl freckles—front and center.
Here are seven expert-approved ways to make the most of your freckles, just like Markle.
1. Exfoliate. The ideal foundation for any beauty look you’re trying to achieve is soft, clean, clear skin that’s free of dead skin cells. Allison Miller, an Aveda makeup artist, colorist, and stylist with Gordon Salon in Chicago, Illinois points out that exfoliation can keep freckled skin from looking cloudy, dull, or, especially, blotchy. freckles, it looks blotchy. She also recommends a product like Aveda Botanical Kinetics Exfoliant ($23 for 5 fl. oz., Aveda.com) or seeing a board-certified dermatologist for an in-office mechanical exfoliation treatment like dermaplaning.
2. Don’t forget your SPF. For freckle-embracing folks, it might be a misconception that because time spent in the sun brings out those pretty ray-kissed spots, you can avoid sunblock. But she says it’s a must to use a sunblock or tinted moisturizer or CC cream with at least 30 SPF.
3. Skip an entire face of foundation. Markle’s own makeup artist Daniel Martin explained to HELLO! that a full base of foundation is a no-no if you want freckles to pop. “If they have any redness, it’s in the T-zone, around the nose, maybe some discoloration [around] the eyes,” he explained. “I tend to use a blending brush, and I’ll go in and buff out the undertone that I don’t want.” He recommends using a water-based foundation and the Tatcha The Silk Canvas Protective Primer ($52, Sephora.com).
Another tip from Sam Lim, co-founder and chief creative officer at HipDot: “Don’t match your foundation to your freckles—match it to your base skin tone. If you try to match your makeup to your freckles instead of the other way around, your face will be muddy.”
4. Grab a product that’s lighter than foundation. Markle’s complexion rarely fails to look dewy and glowing, which only serves to enhance her freckles. To mirror that look, Miller recommends using a tinted moisturizer or CC cream—like Inner Light Mineral Tinted Moisturizer ($32 for 1.7 fl. oz., Aveda.com)—which will be lighter and more translucent than a regular foundation that will appear more matte.
Lim agrees, noting, “The makeup will even out your skin tone, while your freckles poke through and add dimension and interest to your face.”
5. Enhance with highlighter and blush. Using a light hand when applying a highlighter in just the right spots can bring more attention to your freckles, notes Miller. “When you do it, just touch the top of the cheekbone and the very center of the bridge of the nose,” she explains.
And Markle’s look wouldn’t be complete without “a natural, pink, rosy cheek,” notes Miller. “I think that enhances everything without covering it up, because blush is usually pretty sheer,” she says.
Lim agrees that using highlighter and blush is key, recommending the HipDot Perfect Face palette ($18, HipDot.com), a “powder triplet of a contour, blush, highlight that is buildable and super-natural.” It’ll help you get “a sunkissed glow that shows your skin, and especially your freckles,” she says.
6. Go for a neutral lip. Just like Markle herself mentioned, red lipstick or an otherwise bold lip probably isn’t your best bet if you want to play up your freckles. Instead, gravitate to a sheer, natural hue. “I get freckles on my lips which I think are really cute, so after putting on SPF balm of course, I’ll usually wear sheer lip glosses during summer,” Lim explains.
7. Reach for an eyebrow pencil. Markle’s look is so in that some women are even getting faux freckle tattoos. But you don’t have to go that far, obviously. You can just use makeup to make existing ones darker. Lim shares, “I get them on my nose, and if I want to amp them up, I’ll hit them with my brow pencil, which is light enough to look natural.”
If you want to try this, make sure your pencil tip is sharp, and the product is smudge-proof and water/sweat/humidity-resistant (such as Aveda Brow Definer, $24, Aveda.com), Miller says. Then, apply it with a light hand in a “sporadic, organic” way.
Ultimately, as long as you’re caring for your skin and applying makeup in a way that allows your natural beauty to shine through, you can’t go wrong. “Freckles are like snowflakes—beautiful and one of a kind,” Lim says. “They add texture and structure to a face that could otherwise be simple and plain. They definitely make someone stand out, and, in turn, be more memorable.” The Duchess of Sussex has certainly made a case for that.