If you’re reading this blog, chances are you’re reading from your cell phone, laptop, ipad, desktop—they're all tech devices that emit blue light. We’ve all been warned about staring too closely at screens and how they can affect our eyesight, but what about our skin? That’s right, your skin is affected by blue light, too! Before you go on a googling frenzy, keep reading! We’ll tell you all there is to know about blue light, how it affects us, and how to keep your gorgeous skin protected.
Just like the sun emits harmful UV rays (we worship SPF and all the goodness it brings to our skin), it also emits blue light: very short but high-energy waves. But it's not just the sun that gives off blue light: blue light exists in the things we use every day (sometimes all day). Our electronic devices like smartphones, tablets, laptops, TV screens—even fluorescent and incandescent light bulbs also give off blue light—it’s all around us! Because of the amount of time we spend using these devices with glaring screens, blue light can not only affect your eyesight, but also affect your skin, too!
World-renowned dermatologist, Dr. Howard Murad, M.D., F.A.A.D., explains that spending four eight-hour workdays in front of a computer exposes you to the same amount of energy as 20 minutes does in the mid-day sun. Blue light has been shown in studies to cause potential skin harm through free radical generation, as it induces oxidative stress on the skin. This means it can contribute to skin aging, with the potential to penetrate deeper into the skin compared with both UVA and UVB lights, all the way to our dermis, where our collagen and elastin live.
Research also shows blue light from electronic devices can lead to changes in skin cells including cell shrinkage and pigmentation. Studies show that exposure to blue light at night can throw the skin’s natural circadian rhythm out of sync, causing skin cells to “think” it’s daytime which inevitably impacts their natural nighttime repair process (we don’t want to waste our 10-step skin care routine, do we?!), which can lead to visible signs of aging and dark under eye circles.
Before you start setting electronic use restrictions, please know that there are plenty of ways to keep your skin protected from blue light! The most important way (and honestly, one of the most important skincare rules), is by wearing sunscreen on your face that contains Zinc Oxide. Sunlight and lights from electronic devices can both reach skin indoors and outdoors, so it's important to protect your skin even if you're inside most of the day. Zinc Oxide is a great ingredient that protects the skin against blue light and against harmful UV rays. Dermalogica’s Invisible Physical Defense SPF30, Neutrogena’s Sheer Zinc Face Mineral Sunscreen, or CeraVe’s Hydrating Mineral Sunscreen are great SPF options that include zinc oxide and keep your face feeling light and fresh.
Another great way to protect your skin is by incorporating antioxidants into your skin care routine. Antioxidants can counter free radical damage that occurs from UV rays and visible light sources. Vitamin C, ferulic acid and phloretin are all great sources that fight both free radicals and pigmentation and can be found in skin-defending serums. If you have darker skin, it’s recommended to also look into using tranexamic acid to help fight pigmentation.
Okay, so you’ve got your skin shield from blue light, now let’s talk electronics. The first thing you can do to prevent blue light is simple: change your smartphone settings if you can. Some smartphones have a setting that disables blue light in favor of yellow light (also referred to as 'night mode' or 'nightshift’), which is easier on your eyes and on your skin. The next step is to invest in a blue light screen shield. Purchase one for your laptop, as well as a protector for your cell phone to protect your skin and eyes—we promise both will thank you.
We know it’s tough to limit screen time, but by limiting blue-light exposure and adding a few new steps to your beauty routine, both you and your skin will feel and look better!
Taking your skincare game seriously? Check out our SPF blog to learn more about the importance of protecting your skin while out in the sun!
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