The effects of blue light on our skin weren’t exactly a hot topic a decade ago, let alone a popular beauty fad. But it’s no wonder that our device usage and screen time have skyrocketed—the average smartphone user now spends 4 hours and 30 minutes per day on their phone—leading us to our next question: is blue light harmful to your skin? (Does Blue Light Skincare Really Work?)
The beauty industry, of course, responded with blue light skincare. We’re talking serums, toners, mists, and sunscreens that are all designed to protect your skin from the harmful effects of blue light. Are they, however, required, and, more importantly, do they work?
For a long time, our evenings have been brightened by artificial light, and most of us are aware that prolonged exposure to blue light can harm our vision and sleep (get out your blue-light-blocking glasses!). However, some studies have suggested that blue light may alter our circadian cycle, increasing our risk of depression, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that we have concerns about the health of our skin.
So, with blue light blocking beauty products cropping up all over the place, we wanted to discover how blue light affects the skin and if the products are all that they claim to be.
If you’re thinking the same question, we’ve got solutions from Dr. Geddes-Bruce, a board-certified dermatologist. She shocked us with her responses to all of our burning blue light skincare inquiries!
First and foremost, what does blue light entail?
Light of all colors of the rainbow makes up the visible section of the electromagnetic spectrum (as opposed to microwaves, which we can’t see). Blue light has one of the highest energy of all visible lights.
Indoor lighting (both fluorescent and LED), digital screens like your iPad or smartphone, and even the sun are all sources of blue light, so it’s impossible to avoid some exposure. And it’s a popular topic right now, with scientists trying to figure out how blue light impacts our eyes, our mood, our sleep, and even our skin!
What are some other potentially harmful lights, and how do they connect to one another?
Of fact, not all forms of light might be detrimental to our skin. When you advance along the spectrum to lights with shorter wavelengths and higher energy, there is a greater concern about the possibility of eye and skin damage. “Ultraviolet light, which is past blue (and violet) on the spectrum in the invisible portion, is the most notoriously destructive sort of light,” explains Dr. Geddes-Bruce. “Photoaging (wrinkles and brown patches) and skin cancer are both caused by ultraviolet light.
On the other hand, moving in the opposite direction on the spectrum has the opposite effect—red, orange, and yellow lights are being explored for their wound healing and collagen-stimulating benefits.”
Does blue light have a negative impact on our skin’s health?
It’s not as simple as answering yes or no. Dr. Geddes-Bruce argues that our skin’s relationship with blue light is difficult and that further research is needed. Blue light has the potential to be harmful in some cases.
It may be responsible for various pigmentary problems in the skin, such as melasma, and may cause more brown spots and general aging in specific skin types. On the other side, some data suggests that blue light can help destroy acne-causing germs on the skin. So, if your LED light mask has a blue light setting, that’s why! Just don’t use that color setting just before night.
Is blue light of any kind harmful to our skin?
Dr. Geddes Bruce assures me that larger sources of blue light (such as the sun) are likely far more harmful than what you’re exposed to when checking a text message, but the more time we spend staring at our screens, the more we need to examine whether that extra exposure is clinically meaningful.
Is it more vital to add blue light protection into your routine if you spend a lot of time in front of a screen?
Probably, but there’s no need to freak out and shell out hundreds of dollars on blue-light-blocking gadgets. However, using filters and protection isn’t a bad idea. Your skin, eyes, mood, and circadian rhythm/sleep pattern may all benefit.
Do you have any additional suggestions for limiting blue light exposure in other ways?
Dr. Geddes Bruce spends virtually the entire day with the night shift blue light filter on her iPhone. “It makes everything appear a little warmer (don’t go online lipstick shopping with it on—I’ve done that), but it’s a simple method to restrict one source of regular exposure, especially in the evenings,” she says.
Don’t forget about your computer screen; adjusting the screen’s temperature is straightforward. Reduce your screen usage in the evenings, when it has the largest impact on your melatonin synthesis (and melatonin production affects your skin).
Wearing sunscreens that especially block that portion of the visible spectrum, such as those containing iron oxides, is another hot recommendation from Dr. Geddes Bruce for avoiding blue light exposure on the skin.
What is the mechanism of anti-blue light harm products?
Some contain blue-light-blocking particles (such as the iron oxide Dr. Geddes Bruce discussed above), while others have chemicals that combat blue light damage. Look for antioxidants, polyphenols/flavonoids, and even a type of seaweed that has been proved to aid the skin’s regenerating process, according to her.
The greatest blue-light-blocking products are:
Because a 20-minute walk in the sun exposes you to more blue light than spending all day on your smartphone, Dr. Geddes Bruce recommends using a sunscreen that inhibits visible light.
Choose one that is a physical blocker and, more crucially, colored, so you can be sure you’re getting the right kind of protection.
Continue reading to learn about her personal favorites:
This derm favorite contains hyaluronic acid, which promotes moisture retention and reduces the appearance of fine wrinkles.
Antioxidant protection combats skin-aging free radicals, while zinc oxide and titanium dioxide give moderate, chemical-free sun protection.
To heal existing sun damage and decrease the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. This revolutionary composition combines a 100 percent mineral SPF 50 sunscreen. With an innovative blend of peptides, antioxidants, and photolyase enzymes.
The SunBetter Tone Smart Sunscreen is a unique compact product. That provides broad-spectrum SPF 68 protection with a mineral, tone-adapting solution. And blends in well with most skin tones. It’s light, smooth, and long-lasting, with up to 80 minutes of wear time before needing to be reapplied.
Extra Blue-Light Blocking Skincare
Ingredients that work to block blue light and preserve the sensitive under-eye area are found in this 3-in-1 therapy. It works as a depuffing eye cream, daily sunscreen, and highlighter/concealer.
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