Does Blue Light Damage Skin? Everything You Need to Know

Does Blue Light Damage Skin? Everything You Need to Know

You've heard it and seen it a million times - blue light emitted from computers, phones, and other digital screens is a problem, and it can damage your skin, your sleep, and even your DNA.

That’s why doctors recommend no screen time before bed, why “blue light glasses” are all the rage, and why new skincare products to protect against blue light damage are popping up every day.

But are these warnings backed up by science? What, if anything, does blue light do to your skin? And how are these products supposed to stop it?

The Problem With Blue Light

Understanding Wavelengths

Light is much more powerful than it seems, and different wavelengths have different amounts of energy. Rays on the red end of the visible light spectrum have longer wavelengths and less energy, while rays on the blue end of the spectrum have shorter wavelengths and more energy.

Blue light is visible light ranging from 380 to 500 nm (the whole light spectrum ranges from 280-700nm). Blue light sometimes is further broken down into blue-violet light (roughly 380 to 450 nm) and blue-turquoise light (roughly 450 to 500 nm).

Where Blue Light Fits In 

blue light screens

Approximately one-third of all visible light is considered high-energy visible (HEV) or "blue" light, and the biggest source of blue light is the sun.

In a lot of ways, it's healthy. Blue light helps regulate the body’s circadian rhythm, and it can help elevate mood and improve cognitive function.

The Issue: We’re Exposed to More Blue Light Than Ever

With so many devices emitting blue light, you're exposed to more of it than is natural. This increased exposure is what's linked to concerning conditions.

Specifically, increased blue light exposure is linked to:

  • Eye problems: The eye filters UV light - less than 1% reaches the retina at the back of the eye. However, nearly all blue light reaches the retina, which eye doctors believe can contribute to eye strain, macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, and vision loss.
  • Disrupted sleep: Blue light during the day helps maintain a healthy circadian rhythm (it can also help with mood, attention, and reaction times). Too much exposure at night, though - from smartphones, tablets, or television screens - can disrupt this cycle and suppress melatonin production, causing sleepless nights and daytime fatigue.
  • Disease: Some studies suggest a link between exposure to light at night and some types of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. While this isn’t definitive proof, it is cause for concern.

Blue Light Damages Skin

Mounting evidence suggests that long-term, concentrated blue light exposure contributes to photoaging, including:

  • Wrinkles
  • Skin laxity
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Melasma

Blue light exposure can also increase redness and pigmentation - possibly because of increased production of free radicals (which we already know can seriously accelerate aging in the skin by damaging DNA, causing inflammation, and more).

Finally, blue light exposure can lead to more dark spots and acne.

Sounds bad, for sure. That said, none of this is proven and the scientific evidence is ultimately inconclusive. But still - at the very least, it’s worth taking note.

How to Stop Blue Light Damage

Ok, so at this point, you may be considering adding a blue light blocking product to your skincare regimen just in case.

But will it even work?

These products are generally made with ingredients that can block the high-energy wavelengths coming from the sun and devices. They work and they make sense - particularly for sun-sensitive people or those that spend a significant amount of time in front of a screen.

Look specifically for anti-aging serum for women to help counter the effects of blue light. Keep in mind that these should have a variety of antioxidants to be most effective.

Additionally, incorporate a mineral sunscreen into your routine. Keep in mind that “traditional” sunscreens - which protect primarily against ultraviolet rays - will not help protect you from blue light rays. Instead, you need a physical mineral sunscreen that contains ingredients like iron oxide, which are known to block visible light.

Other things you can do:

  • Get a blue light blocking screen for your devices
  • Turn the brightness down on your screens or enable “night mode” or “nightshift” if your phone allows
  • Go hands-free
  • Wear polarized sunglasses to prevent photodamage

Any questions? Let us know!