Why Do Some People (Especially Red Heads) Have Freckles?

iStock.com/NinaMalyna
iStock.com/NinaMalyna

For some people, freckles are a cosmetic obstacle. For others, they're a hot fashion accessory. But what causes the skin sprinkles that some people call "angel's kisses"? Basically, it's all in your genes—and the sun.

Freckles are concentrated flecks of melanin, a pigment protein. Melanin shows up when ultraviolet radiation (UV) hits the skin. UV is damaging, and melanin protects the skin from that damage by darkening it—think of it like your skin slipping on a pair of shades.

Melanin is produced in a type of cell called melanocytes. In some people, melanocytes are spread out evenly, and sun exposure produces a smooth wash of melanin, also known as a tan. In others, melanocytes are bunched up, and the sun produces crazy constellations of melanin, a.k.a. freckles. 

So why do redheads tend to have more freckles? Because both red hair and freckles are usually caused by the same gene, MC1R. The gene perches on melanocytes and controls the pigment balance in both hair and skin. When MC1R is working the way it normally does, it converts any pigment the body produces into eumelanin, which is responsible for black and brown hair and skin colors. When the MC1R gene is “broken,” it allows a rarer type of human pigment, pheomelanin, to build up in the body. Pheomelanin causes reddish hair and the rusty look of most freckles. Variations of the MC1R may also control the number of freckles people have.

But MC1R isn’t the only gene causing freckles. About a decade ago, scientists discovered another gene responsible for freckles in Chinese populations. Other genes may be involved too—scientists have yet to unravel all of the genetic causes behind freckles, which occur in a variety of ethnic groups. Regardless of the precise genetic mechanism, freckles are always a family affair: Parents pass on the likelihood of freckling, as well as its locations across the body.

While some pigmented skin disorders can also cause freckling, freckles by themselves are not a cause for concern (unlike moles, which are raised bumps on the skin—freckles are flat). But if you have freckles, make sure to wear plenty of sunscreen, since the areas where the freckles aren’t located will be especially susceptible to sunburn. You can think of them as spelling out your own little reminder system.

Wayfair’s Fourth of July Clearance Sale Takes Up to 60 Percent Off Grills and Outdoor Furniture

Wayfair/Weber
Wayfair/Weber

This Fourth of July, Wayfair is making sure you can turn your backyard into an oasis while keeping your bank account intact with a clearance sale that features savings of up to 60 percent on essentials like chairs, hammocks, games, and grills. Take a look at some of the highlights below.

Outdoor Furniture

Brisbane bench from Wayfair
Brisbane/Wayfair

- Jericho 9-Foot Market Umbrella $92 (Save 15 percent)
- Woodstock Patio Chairs (Set of Two) $310 (Save 54 percent)
- Brisbane Wooden Storage Bench $243 (Save 62 percent)
- Kordell Nine-Piece Rattan Sectional Seating Group with Cushions $1800 (Save 27 percent)
- Nelsonville 12-Piece Multiple Chairs Seating Group $1860 (Save 56 percent)
- Collingswood Three-Piece Seating Group with Cushions $410 (Save 33 percent)

Grills and Accessories

Dyna-Glo electric smoker.
Dyna-Glo/Wayfair

- Spirit® II E-310 Gas Grill $479 (Save 17 percent)
- Portable Three-Burner Propane Gas Grill $104 (Save 20 percent)
- Digital Bluetooth Electric Smoker $224 (Save 25 percent)
- Cuisinart Grilling Tool Set $38 (Save 5 percent)

Outdoor games

American flag cornhole game.
GoSports

- American Flag Cornhole Board $57 (Save 19 percent)
- Giant Four in a Row Game $30 (Save 6 percent)
- Giant Jenga Game $119 (Save 30 percent)

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Wax Paper vs. Parchment Paper: What’s the Difference for Cooking?

Wax paper is great for keeping your counter space clean (as seen above).
Wax paper is great for keeping your counter space clean (as seen above).

When it comes to kitchen accessories, there are utensils like ladles and spatulas, bakeware like cupcake pans, and then covers and wraps like aluminum foil and plastic bags. But one kitchen item can result in some confusion—paper. Specifically, wax paper versus parchment paper. Despite similar appearances, they're not the same. What’s the difference between the two?

It’s pretty simple. Parchment paper tolerates heat and wax paper does not. Parchment paper is a sturdy, kitchen-specific item made with silicone that resists both grease and moisture. It’s perfect for cake molds or for wrapping fish. (So long as you don’t reuse it for those tasks.) You can safely use parchment paper in an oven.

Wax paper also has a non-stick surface, but it’s not intended for use around any kind of heat source. The wax on the paper could melt. It’s better to use it to cover countertops to make clean-up easier. You can also use it to roll out dough or pound chicken breasts into submission.

Though parchment paper is typically more expensive, it’s far more versatile. You should opt for wax paper only if you plan on making a mess and want to discard it easily. But don’t get the two mixed up, as wax paper near heat could require another kitchen accessory: a fire extinguisher.

[h/t MarthaStewart.com]