Everybody spends more time than ever watching videos, browsing social media, and swiping their lives away on their tablets, laptops, and smartphones. According to a new study by market-research group Nielsen, American adults spend more than 11 hours per day interacting with media on the internet. We use it for fun, stay connected to our friends, shop, work, read, almost everything, literally. But are we truly aware of how all this screen time affects our health? Because it can have real consequences on our sleep, memory, eye-sight, and even metabolism. Yet, nowadays it seems more people are worried about how blue light affects the skin. That’s why we tapped expert dermatologists to uncover the best way to protect your skin from blue light. First, the basics.
What is blue light?
Your laptop, TV, and phone have one thing in common: they all transmit blue light. But what exactly we’re talking about? The human eye sees light as a specific color when it hits a certain wavelength. So, blue light is precisely that: light with blue wavelengths. There are two main sources of it: the sun and screens. It is yet unclear from which source most of the exposure to blue light comes. Sun is a stronger source but we stand closer to screens, and we are exposing ourselves to them for hours.
How blue light affects your skin
We are all aware that too much screen time, especially before bed, is not good for the eyes and sleep quality. And guess what? Blue light is not a friend for skin either, and it can actually make it age faster, though the effects aren’t visible right away. According to a study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, blue light can interrupt skin cells’ circadian rhythm. That means that skin’s regenerative cycle can get thrown out of whack and cause increased damage.
Another research published by Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity alleged that exposure to blue light stimulates the formation of free radicals in the skin, which are unstable molecules that cause cell damage. They are known to speed up the skin’s aging process since they trigger collagen and elastin degradation — two proteins needed to maintain the elasticity and firmness of the skin. So blue light actually ages your skin due to the increase in free radicals. Besides, there’s also evidence that blue light causes discoloration seen as dark spots because it activates melanin production.
To make this easier for you, we spoke to an experienced dermatologist from the city hospital in Hungary, doctor Ljiljana Trklja, and asked her everything about the effects of blue light on the skin. “The connection between blue light and skin is complicated. New research has shown that long-term exposure to high levels of blue light may be associated with a less ideal skin condition. That is, blue light exposure leads to pigmentation problems, such as dark and age spots,” she said.
“My colleagues and I did a test in our hospital. We exposed some testers to blue light and some to UVA. More redness and swelling were on the skin exposed to blue light than to a UVA light source. When exposed to blue light, your skin is under stress, which causes inflammation and leads to cell damage. Then, damage to cells leads to aging, wrinkles, and loss of collagen. Although some research suggests that it also leads to skin cancer, I wouldn’t agree that theory is yet well-proven, “doctor Ljiljana added.
How to protect your skin from blue light?
“Drink plenty of water and eat healthily. This means eating fruits, vegetables, nuts, fish, eggs, and dairy products. These foods are rich in antioxidants that protect the skin from the bad effects of free radicals. And of course, use the right cosmetics,” doctor Ljiljala suggested.
As for a blue light-protecting skincare routine, we recommend wearing sunscreen with SPF 50 and UVA and UVB protection. Also, make sure to use serums with antioxidants (these vitamin C serums will do) and a hydrating and restorative moisturizer tailored to your needs. Finally, don’t forget to switch your devices to night mode at the time, as it disables blue light and enables yellow light instead, which is more friendly for the skin (and eyes). And try to keep the screen farther from the skin as much as possible, to reduce the impact of blue light.
Although the blue light emitted by phones and laptops is less intense than sunlight, it’s still best to keep your skin protected when in front of the screen. So using sunscreen and feeding your body with antioxidants is the key to reducing the damage of blue light on the skin.