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Does Blue Light Cause Skin Damage? (And What You Can Do About It)

January 06, 2020

Blue light's affects on skin and aging

If you’re interested in health and wellness, you’ve probably heard of blue light: the blue wavelengths of light often associated with electronics like computers and phones. When our eyes are glued to our screens (like right this very moment), we're taking in blue light.

Light on this part of the spectrum can affect the body’s circadian rhythm and disrupt our natural wake and sleep cycle, and may be the reason you’re not getting enough beauty sleep. 

When the skin’s natural circadian rhythm is off and sleep is impacted, skin cells aren’t able to maintain their natural nighttime repair process — which can lead to wrinkles, dark under-eye circles, and other visible signs of aging. 

Here’s a closer look at what you need to know about blue light, its effect on skin, and how you can protect your skin from blue light damage. 

What exactly is blue light?

Blue light (also known as High Energy Visible or HEV light) is a high-energy, short-wavelength light that is beneficial during daylight hours — it’s known to boost attention, help memory, and elevate mood — but it can be disruptive at night. 

According to one study, exposure to blue light late at night (from phones or computers) can make it harder to get to sleep. 

Digital devices are also earning a reputation as the silent agers of our generation. That’s because the blue light emitted by our screens has been linked to free radicals — highly reactive molecules that can penetrate the dermis and break down collagen and elastin. 

The result? Skin damage and signs of premature aging. 

Blue light skincare studies

Research on how blue light affects skin is ongoing, but early evidence seems to suggest that it has the potential to be harmful. One study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology found that skin exposed to the amount of blue light we get from the sun produced visible skin changes, including redness and pigmentation. These results indicated that the blue light caused more pigment, redness, and swelling than when the same person’s skin was exposed to comparable levels of UVA (ultraviolet) rays. 

Similarly, this 2017 study published in the journalFree Radical Biology & Medicine found that exposure to blue light triggered oxidation and damaged proteins in human skin. “These results suggest that blue light contributes to skin aging similar to UVA,” said the authors of the paper. 

So what is the best way to protect skin from blue light damage?

While potential blue light damage from screens is getting the most buzz recently, the largest source of blue light is actually the sun.

Whether it’s light from the sun or your smartphone, applying topical antioxidants can help boost skin’s defense against environmental damage. A wave of blue light skincare products has started to hit the skincare market, working to combat potential blue light damage with powerful antioxidants and top performing anti-aging ingredients.

Look for antioxidant-rich serums and sunscreens formulated to protect against environmental stressors. Top blue light skincare products will deliver other results, such as hydration, SPF protection, and anti-aging benefits as well.