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Are Facial Moles Beauty Spots?

Updated on March 24, 2017
Beth Eaglescliffe profile image

Science graduate and business advisor, health educator and author, Beth writes articles on a wide variety of subjects.

A young French woman has style and elegance with her beauty mark.
A young French woman has style and elegance with her beauty mark. | Source

Beauty Spots or Patches as Fashion

The use of cosmetics to create moles and large freckles has been fashionable for thousands of years. The ancient Romans used a kind of paint to accentuate face moles and cover over pimples and skin blemishes. From the 17th century, portraits of wealthy people (both men and women) show them wearing fashionable beauty spots. In the 18th century in particular, these spot-sized patches were the height of fashion. The beauty marks were made of black silk or velvet and cut into the shape of a heart or stars or the moon. They were called "mouches" (which translates as "tiny flies").

Dona Maria de la Luz Padilla painted by Miguel Cabrera in 1760 showing her face moles.
Dona Maria de la Luz Padilla painted by Miguel Cabrera in 1760 showing her face moles. | Source

Moles, Large Freckles or Nevus

Moles occur naturally all over a person's skin. They are very common and most people have between ten and forty moles or large freckles in various places on their body. Usually only one or two of these will be on their face. The majority of moles (nevus) are benign (harmless). A small number are malignant (cancerous).

A clear explanation of what a mole is and which types need attention is given by a medical doctor in the video below. If you are worried about a mole you should seek advice from a qualified medical practitioner.

What is a Mole? A Dermatologist Explains

The lay term for a melanocytic naevus is a “mole”. The word ‘melanocytic’ means that they are made up of the cells (melanocytes) which produce the dark pigment (melanin) that gives the skin its colour. Melanocytes clustered together form naevi. In other words, moles are benign (harmless) groups of melanocytes.

— British Association of Dermatologists

What is a Beauty Mark?

Why Did the Fashion of Beauty Spots Evolve?

The origin of the fashion of covering moles and spots may have been that it aided healing of broken or inflamed skin. Covering a pimple or mole protected the location from bacteria. Little was understood about the cause of disease and infection until the 20th century. Preventing a person from touching a mark on their face would have resulted in quicker healing as the pimple was kept more hygienically clean.

Cover patches (a kind of rudimentary Band-Aid) cannot be hidden so some people began deliberately to make the patches stand out. A few prominent people in royal circles adopted this practice (i.e. decided to flaunt their patch rather than hide it). Others then copied their behavior and the idea of wearing beauty patches as a fashion statement became popular.

Devil's Touch and Salem Witch Trials

The superstitious name of “witch’s mark” or “devil’s touch” has been used in some periods of history to describe a birthmark or mole. In USA in 17th century, the notorious Salem witch trials treated such marks as evidence of witchcraft. The existence of a mole on a person’s face was prima face evidence of guilt. The marks were thought to be claw-marks made by the devil. The devil allegedly carried humans in his claws when he returned them to Earth after their apprenticeship with him in the Underworld. Thankfully, most people no longer believe this.

Flaunt it or Fade it

If you had a benign beauty mark, would you ...?

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How to Create a Beauty Mark

Fashionable Face Moles and Beauty Marks Today

There are many famous actors and fashion models who have facial moles. The public tend to copy the fashion style and make-up of such celebrities. Beautiful people who have face moles and started fashion trends include Marilyn Monroe, Cindy Crawford, Sheryl Crow and Madonna. You can follow their lead by creating your own beauty mark with a pencil such as the Absolute New York Beauty Mark Star pencil.

The French Royal Court, Pock Marks and Beauty Spots

For nine years from 1745, Madame de Pompadour was the chief mistress of King Louis XV of France. This officially recognized position gave her great influence in the French Court. She could access the royal family’s unlimited wealth. She dressed expensively and wore the latest fashions. Most people in Europe at this time had pock marks (scarring) on their face and bodies and Madame de Pompadour was no different in this respect.

The disease of small-pox was endemic throughout the region as it had been for hundreds of years. Wearing “beauty spots” or patches to cover up pock-mark scars had been common in Europe since at least the 1600s. Thus Madame de Pompadour did not invent the fashion of wearing a beauty patch, but she is the person credited with making them glamorous.

Madame de Pompadour’s beauty patches were encrusted with diamonds and were sewn from delicate velvet fabric. She had unique beauty patches designed for her in the shape of hearts, crescent moons and stars. Other courtier’s noticed the attention that these beauty patches caused and so they adopted the fashion.

The Language of Seduction

Wearing a beauty spot was a way to communicate and flirt with the opposite sex. Advances in medical knowledge during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries reduced the number of people with scarring caused by small-pox. Beauty marks continued to be worn but as a cosmetic enhancement, rather than to disguise a skin blemish. They were a liberating way for women to reveal their feelings to a potential suitor.

The dark color of a beauty mark patch emphasized the whiteness of the wearer’s skin. At a time when wealthy people did no manual work, tanned skin indicated a life of labor and having to work outside. White skin was a sign of wealth and a life of idleness. Wearing a beauty spot was thus another way to show status.

18th Century Meaning of Facial Mouche (Patches)

Position on Face
Beauty spot worn beside the mouth
Wearer will kiss but go no further.
Beauty mark worn touching the lower lip
Wearer can be very discreet.
Beauty spot at the corner of the eye
Wearer is actively looking for a new liaison.
Cindy Crawford super-model shows how a mole enhances natural beauty.
Cindy Crawford super-model shows how a mole enhances natural beauty. | Source


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