The Dark Side of Blue Light, Skin Health and Aging

The average woman spends 2 hours and 51 minutes per day on her smartphone. 22% of us check our phones every few minutes during waking hours. Couple that with computer screen time at work, watching tv on our flat screens and we end up with a lot of exposure to blue light daily.

Google blue light and you’ll get a lot of articles about its negative impact on your eye health, but more recently, studies are now being published on blue lights effect on our skin. And the results are compelling.

Is Blue Light Harmful To Skin?

Current research suggests that blue light contributes to advanced photo-aging, particularly the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles as well as increased skin laxity, and hyperpigmentation. 

According to a particular study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology exposing skin to significant blue light resulted in pigmentation problems, redness, and visible swelling.

Free radicals have long been shown to speed up the aging process. They can be blamed for the fine lines, wrinkles and uneven skin texture you start to see in the mirror.

And if that doesn’t make you rethink your next selfie, another published study found that exposure to light emitted from electronic devices on human skin cells can increase the generation of reactive oxygen species otherwise known as oxidative stress. Oxidative stress damages our skin cells and is considered a driving force in accelerated aging.

And, last but not least, blue light has been shown to disrupt our sleep patterns which can lead to accelerated aging in the form of fine lines, wrinkles and lax skin. Multiple studies have shown that sleep deprivation and insomnia negatively impact our skin function and accelerates the appearance of aging. Not only that, but chronic sleep disruption leads to slower recovery from a variety of environmental stressors, including disruption of the skin barrier or ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

What is Blue Light?

Blue light is part of the visible light spectrum. Vibrating within the 380 to 500-nanometer range, blue light has the shortest wavelength and highest energy. About one-third of all visible light is "blue” light. 

Sunlight is the most significant source of blue light. Artificial sources of blue light include fluorescent light, compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs, LEDs, flat-screen LED televisions, computer monitors, smartphones and tablet screens.

In short, blue light is everywhere.

So, what’s one to do?

How to Protect the Skin from Blue Light

The good news is that not all exposure to blue light is bad. So, you don’t have to get rid of your flat screen or smartphone just yet. In fact, blue light can help boost alertness, memory and cognitive function, in moderation. But as we pointed out, we’re a little over-exposed when it comes to blue light, so following a few simple tips can help mitigate its negative impact on our skin health.

4 Tips to Protect Skin from Blue Light

  • Limit looking at bright screens at least 1-2 hours before bed
  • Before you Netflix and chill, make sure you have a solid nighttime routine that doesn’t include screen time.

  • Get blue-light filters for your smartphone, tablet and computer screens
  • Some devices have a nighttime mode that adjusts the brightness of your screen. If that’s not available, you can easily purchase a filter that will be just as effective.

  • Go hands-free when possible
  • Whenever possible, go hands-free when using your phone. This will help protect against hyperpigmentation.

  • Incorporate Quality Protective Skincare
  • Skin health starts with quality skincare. Products rich in antioxidants can help neutralize and even reverse the damage caused by blue light. Combined with ingredients shown to combat free radicals and your skincare regimen will be blue-light fighting and anti-aging.

    The Future of Technology and Skin

    Glowing skin reflected from your device’s screen isn’t quite the healthy radiance we all want. But face it, technology that uses blue light isn’t going anywhere. But with mindful use of screens supported by protective, anti-pollution skincare, it’s possible to keep your skin radiant from the inside-out.

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