How Blue Light Harms Your Skin + How To Prevent It
by Sarah Taylor
What is Blue Light?
Blue light is the visible light produced by your digital devices and found in objects like light bulbs. While the sun has UV light with invisible radiation, blue light produces high-energy visible light (HEV). As the name suggests, blue light has shorter wavelengths with more energy.
While your device only emits a tiny amount of HEV light compared to the sun, you spend a significantly longer time exposed to it. Think of how close you hold a phone screen to your face, or how close you sit to your laptop screen. Not only do you have a longer exposure time, but you’re also significantly closer to the source of light.
How Does Blue Light Harm Your Skin?
We all know to wear an SPF before going out in the sun. Did you know that 6 hours in front of your laptop does the same damage as 25 minutes in the summer sun? Unilever recently published research which shows that 64% of people are unaware of the effect blue light has on their skin. HEV light leads to skin ageing, the same way that sunlight exposure does.
Research on the damage caused by blue light is still ongoing. We know continued exposure can have knock-on effects on the health of our skin. Blue light can penetrate your skin cells further than UV light, making its way through the epidermis and dermis of your skin to the subcutis layer. The subcutis layer is the area in your skin where you produce collagen and elastin. Your skin can lose the firmness that keeps it looking young and wrinkle-free due to blue light.
Hyperpigmentation is a common occurrence, as blue light induces more pigmentation in your skin as the energy is more active. If you spend around 30 hours a week looking at a screen, you can see a 40% increase in skin inflammation.
The blue light rays can mess with your body’s melatonin levels, disturbing your sleep pattern. If you’re struggling to fall asleep at night, consider not watching Netflix before bed and swapping it out for a book or audiobook. You want to limit your night-time use of blue light as it throws your skin’s circadian rhythm off track, making your cells think it is daytime. Your cells need to recognise that it’s night-time as this is when your cells repair and recover. It’s also when your skin is best able to absorb all the active ingredients in your skincare products.
Regular exposure to blue light can cause skin discolouration and weaken your skin’s natural protective barrier, allowing free radicals to damage your skin. Whatever age you are, you’re likely to have a phone or a TV that you spend a fair amount of time looking at every day.
Millennials are the demographic most at risk to blue light damage as they check their phones over 150 times a day. Most people spend over three hours a day on their phone. Add in the time you spend on a laptop or watching Netflix, and it quickly adds up! Consistent exposure to blue light can speed up the ageing process, and you can see wrinkles appear well before middle-age.
You don’t have to undergo a digital cleanse to protect your skin. Instead, you need to look after your skin, the same way you would if you were going out into the sun. While you might hide from the sun, you can’t hide from blue light in a digital world.
How Can I Protect My Skin from Blue Light Damage?
In today’s world, it’s almost impossible to limit screen time. As most of us work from home and depend on Zoom to hold our meetings, we’re spending more time in the virtual world than ever.
Try to make sure you take regular breaks away from your screens, even for a lunch break. If your phone lives in your hand, consider adding a screen protector designed to cancel out blue light. You can also switch your phone or apps to night mode. Try to keep your phone away from your face, preferably at arm’s length.
You’ll want to consider the impact of blue light when you’re looking for skincare products. Keep an eye out for products that contain niacinamide, as this restores the cells on your skin’s surface while protecting your skin from the blue light. Zinc oxide is another ingredient to look out for as it helps aids your skin’s natural protective barrier. Iron oxide works to protect your skin from HEV blue light, specifically when used in partnership with zin oxide.
You want to make sure there is vitamin C somewhere in your skincare routine as it helps your skin recover after a day in front of a blue light screen. You also want to find products which are full of antioxidants, such as vitamin B6.
We recommend using our SPF45 tinted moisturiser to protect your skin from HEV, UVA and UVB damage. Your skin will be protected, whether you're in the real world or the virtual one.It’s time we start taking blue light damage seriously. In our fast-changing world, where technology drives our daily lives, you can’t hide away from blue light. Start by adding specific ingredients to your skincare routine to help minimise the damage and keep your skin healthy.