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You might have heard that blue light is bad for your eyes, but did you know that it’s bad for your skin, too? Few people are aware of the damage they might incur by spending time in front of their devices, leading to premature signs of aging. Translation: loss of firmness, fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, and hyperpigmentation.
Today’s post will cover all you need to know about blue light’s effect on skin, including ways you can protect your youthful complexion against this environmental stressor. Click on a link below to jump directly to the information you’re looking for, or read end-to-end and ensure your best asset is fully protected from every angle.
Blue light, also known as high-energy visible (HEV) light, is both natural and man-made, appearing in shades that range from blue/turquoise to blue/violet. Unlike the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays that we can’t see but can certainly feel, HEV is the opposite; you can see blue light, but you can’t feel its heat.
All light is made up of electromagnetic particles that travel in waves, and each color of the rainbow — red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet, or ROYGBIV — occurs at a different wavelength, measured in nanometers (nm).
Red light has the longest wavelength with the weakest energy, and the intensity increases across the ROYGBIV light spectrum. Blue, indigo, and violet are the strongest, hence the name “high-energy visible light”.
With a wavelength between approximately 390 and 500 nm, blue light can penetrate skin more deeply than both UVA and UVB rays, extending past the epidermis deep within the dermal layer of tissue.
The largest source of blue light is the sun; HEV blue light rays account for 50% of all solar radiation and are actually what makes the sky look blue, which makes every day sunscreen usage an important part of your skincare routine. However, most people associate it with light emitting diodes (LEDs) used in digital devices, such as your:
These are just a few examples of electronics that use LED backlight technology to enhance the screen’s brightness and clarity, but lamps containing LED and fluorescent bulbs are also a major source of blue light. These waves are nearly everywhere in our surroundings — both indoors and outdoors — and most of the time, we barely even notice.
Some studies suggest that 60% of people spend more than six hours per day in front of a digital device. Between jobs that require computer usage at work, watching TV at home, scrolling through your phone on-the-go, and spending time outdoors, it can seem nearly impossible to escape all the blue light in your environment.
Yes, recent studies have proven that exposure to blue light can have adverse biological effects on skin in as little as one hour. According to dermatologist Dr. Murad, if you were to spend four eight-hour workdays in front of a computer, you’d be exposed to the same amount of energy as 20 minutes in the midday sun.
This may seem inconsequential, but Dr. Murad notes that just seven minutes of unprotected sun exposure at 1:00 PM can give you an immediate tan. If you combine the repeated exposure at work with the daily exposure from the sun, digital devices, LEDs, and fluorescent lights, the accumulative blue light effect on skin can be very substantial.
Not all blue light is bad. The HEV wavelength has an antimicrobial effect and is often used as an FDA-approved acne treatment due to its scientifically proven ability to kill the P. acnes bacteria known to cause breakouts.
However, studies reveal that longer exposure to high-energy blue light can increase the amount of DNA damage, cell and tissue death, skin barrier functioning, and photoaging. Blue light harm is not exclusive to skin; its impairment on the circadian system and eye physiology are also well-documented.
Now you know that frequent screen time does your complexion a disfavor, but you might be curious as to how exactly blue light damages skin. The answer is due to oxidative stress — the imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants — upon irradiation with visible light. Here’s how it works:
Skin is very vulnerable to oxidative stress, and the blue light effect on skin slowly compounds overtime. By causing additional eye strain, it can lead to the development of more pronounced wrinkles near the eyes and between the brows that can be treated with skin firming eye creams. If it disrupts your circadian rhythm, lack of sleep can appear as dark circles or puffy eyebags. Harvard.Edu explains that blue light damage is more than just aesthetics, as research suggests it may also contribute to obesity, heart disease, and cancer.
When it comes to protecting your skin from blue light damage, research indicates that additional measures beyond UV filters are required; minerals like titanium dioxide and iron oxide are considered the gold standard for blue light protection due to their ability to scatter the visible light spectrum.
Some scientists say that full protection against UV radiation (UVR) and visible light irradiation is only achieved when combined with antioxidants — your body’s natural form of defense against oxidative stress induced by free radicals. They can safely interact with these molecules and terminate their chain reaction before DNA damage occurs. You can consume antioxidants in your diet, but they can also be applied topically.
There are a number of niacinamide skin care products that offer these benefits for your skin. At Colorescience, we offer formulas packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to help you combat all the stressors your skin might encounter inside or outside throughout your day-to-day life including UV rays, blue light, infrared radiation, and particles found in polluted air.
Our Sunforgettable® Total Protection™ harnesses the all-natural power of specialty ingredients such as:
Using only the highest quality ingredients found in nature, we offer safe sunscreen and skincare products for sensitive skin that will never trigger irritation due to chemical reaction. You can choose between different formulas — including powder, liquid, and sport stick — and add our SPF foundation for sensitive skin for even greater protection.
Is blue light bad for skin? Yes, but it doesn’t mean you have to unplug all your devices for good. Maintain defense against daily stressors with Colorescience Total Protection Sunscreen and stay up-to-date with facts about sun damage and your skin to preserve your complexion’s youthful vitality.
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