In the past, the sun’s damaging UVA and UVB radiations were the main cause of skin cancer and premature aging. Scientists have discovered that the UVA and UVB rays emitted by the sun are not the only ones to be concerned about over the past 10 years. Blue light, which can be emitted from digital devices and the sun, could affect your skin’s health.
“Blue-light blocking is a growing trend in skin care and wellbeing because we are all more exposed to blue light now with the use smartphones and tablets,” Nazanin Saedi MD, co-chair of department at Dermatology Associates Plymouth Meeting in Pennsylvania.
What is Blue Light?
“Blue Light is a part of the visible spectrum (380-500 nanometers) but it can also be given off by indoor lighting [and] other common electronic devices like smartphones,” states Jason Bloom. Jason Bloom is a facial plastic surgeon at Bloom Facial Plastic Surgery, Bryn Mawr.
“[Blue light] penetrates deeper into the skin than UV, but it is not associated with skin cancer,” Joshua Zeichner MD, director of cosmetic research at Mount Sinai Hospital’s Department of Dermatology, New York City.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, most of the blue light people are exposed to is from the sun. Dr. Bloom explained that devices emit only a fraction of the blue light that the sun produces. But, “the problem is that we spend so much time on these devices and keep them close to our faces span>
According to data from Nielsen in July 2018, the average American spends over 11 hours daily on digital media.
Dr. Zeichner states that “spending more time in front of our devices during COVID-19 lockdown raised questions about whether our devices were contributing to premature skin age.” “The truth is that the blue light emitted by our phones, tablets, computers and smartphones is very low. We must consider the long-term effects of low-level exposure span as we spend more time looking at our devices.
You may have noticed that your screen time has increased due to work-from-home Zoom phone calls or endless virtual happy hour, and you might be curious about the impact on your health.
How Does Blue Light Affect Human Health?
Scientists have discovered that blue light from the sun and devices can cause eye strain. A December 2018 review in the International Journal of Ophthalmology found that high-energy blue light of a wavelength of 415 to 455 nanometers passes through both the cornea and the lens to the retina. It can lead to dry eyes, cataracts, age-related macular damage, and other diseases like dry eye, dry eyes, and dry vision. The study authors stated that the process might also affect hormone production, causing an imbalance that could negatively impact sleep quality.
What do we know about blue light and skin health?
Unfortunately, there is not much research into the effects of blue lights on the skin. However, preliminary studies could provide clues.
Bloom cites a study showing that people with darker skin were more likely to experience reddening, swelling and pigment changes when exposed to visible light than those with lighter skin. He points out that visible blue light can penetrate the skin and cause reactive oxygen species. This can lead to DNA damage and the breakdown of collagen and elastin.
What can you do to tell if blue light has damaged your skin?
According to Bloom, skin changes such as pigmentation, swelling and early wrinkling can all indicate blue light damage.
Kathleen Suozzi, MD, a dermatologic physician and director of aesthetic dermatology at Yale Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, says there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that blue light damages skin. She says, “It is possible that blue light could cause harmful effects on the skin. This includes pigmentation and photoaging. However, this has not yet been proven.” She points out that certain dermatologists may use blue light to treat skin conditions like acne. There have not been any reports of skin pigmentation being affected by these treatments.
How To Protect Your Skin from Potential Blue Light Damage
Dr. Saedi suggests that reducing screen time is the best way to avoid blue light damage. You can also invest in a screen protector for your electronics, such as the ophthalmologist-endorsed EyeJust ($55, EyeJust.com), which can block or dim blue light. Bloom says it is important to take proactive measures to reduce the brightness of your phone’s screen or to wear headphones so your phone can be kept in your pocket, not against your cheeks and face.
Apply it now if you don’t have sunscreen with at least 30 SPF. Bloom says that patients should always use sunscreen daily. Bloom emphasizes the importance of using physical blocking sunscreens such as CoolaMD or EltaMD, which contain zinc or titanium dioxide. This can help block blue light because chemical sunscreens that block UVA or UVB rays may not block visible and blue light. Zeichner suggests choosing a tinted mineral sun blocker, which will physically prevent blue light from reaching the skin’s surface.
Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, two common ingredients in mineral sunscreens, are currently the only active ingredients that have been accepted as safe and effective by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Chemical sunscreens can be a good alternative to no sun protection. However, there are still concerns about their environmental effects and high skin absorption rates. This was based on a July 2018 review in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology and a January 2020 randomized clinical trial in the Journal of the American Medical Association. )