Blue Light and Your Skin
If you feel like your skin has aged more than ever in the last 18 months, it could be down to your screen time. Discover the damaging impact of blue light and how you can help optimise your skin’s health for good.
What is blue light?
A buzzword that’s been circulating in beauty circles for a few years now, blue light refers to the light that’s emitted from devices such as laptops, tablets and mobile phones. Although we’re most familiar with its origin from these man-made sources, the sun itself is also a natural source of blue light and accounts for around 50% of its radiation. Like all light, blue light is made up of electromagnetic particles that travel in waves. On the electromagnetic spectrum blue light, or high Energy Visible Light (HEV) as it’s also referred to, has a wavelength range of between 380 and 500 nanometres. Unlike UV light, which we can’t see, blue light falls within the visible part of the spectrum.
How does blue light affect the skin?
As well as a being an immediate stress perceiver for external stressors, the skin is also the target of internal stress responses itself. In simple terms, that means that not only is the skin being attacked from the inside, it’s also being assaulted from the outside too. And blue light is just one of those aggravating factors. As if that weren’t enough, well as having multiple source points, blue light can penetrate and impact the dermal layer of the skin more deeply than other oxidative stressors you might be more familiar with, such as UVA and UVB rays. In other words, its potential to do harm is significant.
In visible terms, the damage that sitting in front of a screen all day for hours on end is easy to see, and in fact, might well be things you’ve noticed staring back at you on all those Zoom calls over the last year and a half. Think everything from dehydration, hyperpigmentation, an increase in fine lines and wrinkles and a general thinning of the skin.
One quick caveat – if you’ve ever read about the positive impact of blue light on skin for issues such as acne and blemishes, and are feeling a little confused, don’t worry, you’re not wrong. That’s because although experts and studies agree that longer spells of exposure are harmful to the skin’s DNA, small micro doses of blue light every so often are thought to have a beneficial antimicrobial effect on certain skin conditions.
How else can blue light cause damage?
If you’re worried about the amount of time you’ve spent glued to your laptop recently, rest assured that you’re not alone (hands up if you’re as guilty as we are?). According to a 2020 Ofcom survey, increase in digital device usage post pandemic has skyrocketed, with UK adults spending on average 6 and a half hours a day in front of their screens. This increase isn’t just bad news for our skin (not to mention our capacity for concentration), but our eyes too. Dry Eye Syndrome, a condition usually more common in mature adults, is according to some experts, on the rise across all demographics as a direct result of this glut of screen time. That’s because spending so long staring at screens causes us to blink, and therefore lubricate, our eyes 6-8x less than when we’re not glued to a device. The result of this is symptoms that you’ll probably recognise and include redness, irritation, excessive watering and even fluctuating vision.
How to protect skin against blue light
As well as trying to cut down on your exposure to digital devices (easier said than done, we know), using a protective shield on your phone and being diligent in your daily SPF application are musts. Compliance is everything when it comes to sun protection, so find a formula your skin likes and stick with it; we like Heliocare’s 360 Gel Oil Free SPF50 as it sits beautifully under makeup and is suitable for all skin types including oily.
Eating a diet rich in protective antioxidants is another way to ensure you’re bolstering your skin’s defences against oxidative damage. When it comes to adding to your diet via supplements for healthy skin, Manifesto hair, skin & nail gummies are rich in Vitamin E, meaning they’re poised to help protect and repair cells from the onslaught of oxidative stress such as blue light. Upping the protective ante even further, Manifesto edible vitamin supplements are also a great source of Astaxanthin, a highly potent carotenoid with effective anti-inflammatory antioxidant properties that help protect skin against the kind of oxidative damage and structural deterioration caused by blue light. It’s also been proven to help reduce signs of digital fatigue and retinal damage in eyes caused by excess exposure to blue light. And finally, no supplement for healthy skin would be complete without Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant which not only repairs damage on the skin and helps neutralise hyperpigmentation but is also instrumental in helping to kickstart skin’s own collagen production that blue light actively breaks down.