In this series, we take common beauty questions, of which we’ve heard about 23,464 conflicting answers to over the years, and myth-bust ‘em once and for all.

Kylie Jenner Freckles - Lead 2016
Credit: @kyliejenner/Instagram

We know what freckles are… They’re pretty easy to pinpoint. I have them. Celebrities take selfies embracing them, and there’s no doubting they’re beautiful. But do we know what they really are? You know, like how they even formed on the apples of your cheeks and down the bridge of your nose...There’s a lot of conflicting info out there.

So Here's Our Burning Question...

Are they pigmentation marks that will developed no matter what due to our DNA? Or are they just dark spots we’ve developed from too much time outside with not enough SPF?

And the Answer Is...

According to Dove consulting dermatologist Dr. Mona Gohara, freckles are brown spots that are formed after unprotected exposure to UV light and everyone is born with the potential to get them. So, in a way, yeah, they're sun spots.

This totally explains why babies are often so freckle-less, as they probably haven’t had that much unprotected time out in the sun. “If someone who was 100 years old lived in a UV proof bubble, they would not have freckles ever in their life,” says. Dr. Gohara.

While she notes that some people have genetic lentigos (the proper term for sun spots that do not fade), most are due to exposure. There’s also a difference between lentigos and freckles. Freckles fade during the seasons (which explains they are so prominent in the summer and after a day at the beach than in the dead of winter), while permanent lentigos do not.

Wearing SPF will help prevent them from forming, but you should be wearing sunscreen for more serious reasons than freckles, like preventing skin cancer and premature aging. Need more info on if your bottle of 15 is really any different than the SPF 30? We’ve got those answers for you, too.