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Are Beauty Marks and Moles the Same Thing?

Here’s what those little dots on your face mean.
June 05, 2023

Having a beauty mark on your face is a pretty common thing, but if you’ve ever wondered what a beauty mark is exactly, you’re not alone. Sure, our parents have been calling them that since we were little, but what does that even mean? In short, a beauty mark (also often referred to as a mole) can be a few different things, which is why no two ever look the same. 

If you’re on the hunt to learn more about this type of spot on your skin and want to know if you should be concerned, you’ve come to the right place. Below, we’re detailing everything you should know about beauty marks and moles, including the different types of moles and how to do a monthly skin assessment.

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What Is a Beauty Mark?

In truth, beauty mark is a term that was coined to describe a dark spot on your face that is considered attractive or beautiful. Most of the time, a beauty mark is a mole, freckle or spot on your skin that has been there since you were born (a birthmark). Basically, a beauty mark is a euphemism for a dark facial mark so it tends to be a broadly used term for any type of freckle or mole. 

Beauty Mark Vs. Mole: What’s the Difference?

Beauty marks typically refer to the common mole, which, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), nearly every adult has. In fact, the Cleveland Clinic states it’s normal for an individual to have between 10 and 40 moles by adulthood. Typically, most moles appear during the first 20 years of life.

As for what a mole is, it’s a growth on the skin that can vary in color, from matching your natural skin tone to having a brown or black color, per the Cleveland Clinic. While some moles are common and harmless, there are certain types that should raise concern.

3 Types Of Moles to Know

There are three broad categories of moles, two of which could develop into melanoma and should be observed by a board-certified dermatologist, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Common Nevi

This is your standard mole. It’s small and usually pink, tan or brown with a distinct shape.

Congenital Nevi

This type of mole can be found on about one in every 100 people. They appear at birth and are more likely to develop melanoma later on.

Dysplastic Nevi

This type of mole is typically hereditary and is larger than a pencil eraser. They are darker at the center and uneven in shape. They have a greater chance of developing cancerous melanoma.

What Causes a Mole?

The Cleveland Clinic states moles happen when the cells in your skin called melanocytes grow in a cluster, rather than spread throughout your skin. They can become darker due to sun exposure, pregnancy or puberty. They can also become lighter. During a mole's life cycle, which typically lasts 50 years, they can become raised, lighter in color and develop hairs (without causing concern), per the Cleveland Clinic.

Why You Should Do Regular Mole Checks

The Cleveland Clinic explains that keeping track of your moles with regular checks increases the chance of being able to detect and treat melanoma and other types of skin cancers. So, when is a mole a concern, how can you keep tabs on them to ensure you aren’t at risk? Dermatologists recommend doing your own monthly check-ins to see if there are any changes in the color or appearance of your mole.

How to Do a Mole Check

Now that you know the importance of monthly mole checks let’s talk about how to do one. Here are a few tips to follow, courtesy of the Cleveland Clinic.


1. Take a Shower

For your monthly check-ins, it’s best to observe your skin right out of the shower or bath when its still wet.

2. Use a Mirror

A full-length mirror paired with a hand mirror will let you get a close, accurate view of your moles. You can also have someone you trust help you check moles in difficult-to-see places like your back.

3. Develop a System 

Examine the same way each month. For example, work your way from head to toe each time you do a routine check-in and closely check for both new moles and changes in existing ones.

4. Don’t Skip Your Toes

Yup, there are certain hidden areas, like your toes, that you may not think to check. Others include your fingers, groin, backs of the ears, backs of your knees and the soles of your feet.

5. Keep Track

Taking pictures of your moles each month is a great way to stay on top of any changes that may have occurred. You can even date the pictures and store them in a folder so they’re easy to look back on.

What to Look for When Checking Your Moles

Now that you know the importance of monthly mole checks, let’s talk about how to do one called the ABCDE skin assessment. Here are a few things to look out for, courtesy of the Cleveland Clinic.

A: Asymmetry. See that both sides of your mole match because a change in shape (to an irregular shape) can be a sign of skin cancer.

B: Border. Check to see if the edges of your mole are uneven or blurred.

C: Color. See if your mole has changed in color or has multiple tones. If this has happened, see your doctor, as this can often be a sign of skin cancer.

D: Diameter. If your mole has gotten bigger, that is cause for concern.

E: Elevation. Evaluate if your mole has become raised. 

Should I Be Worried About My Beauty Marks?

If you notice a change in the appearance of your beauty mark or mole, consider it a good idea to book an appointment with your doctor because a shift in the size or color may be an indication of skin cancer. According to the Cleveland Clinic, most moles grow on parts of your body that get sunlight (ultraviolet radiation). It’s also common to get more moles when you spend more time in the sun. With this in mind, SPF is so important for protecting the health of you and your skin. Here are a few of our favorites to add to your routine. 

L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Invisible UV Fluid

This lightweight sunscreen melts into the skin to provide broad-spectrum coverage without leaving a chalky white cast on any skin tone. Formulated with UVA and UVB filters, it protects against harmful sun rays that lead to burning and aging. 

L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Triple Power Day Lotion SPF 30

With a blend of pro-retinol, vitamin C, hyaluronic acid and SPF 30, this day moisturizer reduces wrinkles, firms and brightens the skin while it protects from the sun. If you’re one to forget your sunscreen in the morning, this moisturizer with SPF is a great solution. 

L’Oréal Paris Wrinkle Expert 55+ Age Defense Lotion SPF

This sunscreen is a suitable choice for mature skin as it contains calcium, which is known to strengthen thin skin. The non-greasy formula adds a nice, hydrating slip while it protect against the sun’s rays and even works to smooth the appearance of wrinkles over time.  

How to Fake a Beauty Mark

If you’re covered in beauty marks and are responsible for checking them regularly, you might not relate to this, but there are many people that desire beauty marks on their face. In fact, they even draw them on, much like fake freckles. If you want to draw on a beauty mark, all you need to do is grab a long-wearing pencil eyeliner (you don’t want it to smudge midday) and dot it onto your face. Try the L’Oréal Paris Infallible Pro-Last Waterproof, Up to 24HR Pencil Eyeliner in Brown. As for placement, whatever sparks joy in you should work just fine, but it’s popular to rock faux beauty marks under the eyes or near the lips.

Next: These Eye Creams Are the Answer to Your Pesky Dark Circles

Photographer: Nelson Huang, Art Director: Hannah Packer, Producer: Becca Solovay, Beauty Content Director: Shalwah Evans, Visual Designer: Sarah Duvivier, Wardrobe Stylist: Alexis Badiyi, Wardrobe Assistant: Jazmine Alzado, Makeup Artist: Jonet Williamson, Hair Stylist: Akihisa Yamaguchi, Digi Tech: Jacky Jiang, Photo Assistant: Tyler Andrews, Model: Mecca Allah

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