It is well known and documented how damaging ultraviolet rays are to the skin and the same could also be said about blue light’s effects on eyes. However, little is known about its impact on human skin which is just as damaging.
With the rapid technological advancements that have taken place in the world over the past decades, devices that emit artificial blue light remain ubiquitous. This simply means that you’ll keep on being exposed to higher and higher levels of blue light.
What Makes Blue Light so Dangerous?
It is produced by both the sun and digital devices like smartphones, computers, LED television screens, and fluorescent bulbs. The sun emits both visible and invisible light. Blue one is of the colours in the visible light spectrum and it happens to have the shortest wavelength thus, the most energy.
Unlike eyes that are negatively affected by exposure to artificial blue light at night, the one from digital devices and even the sun affects the skin. Blue light can penetrate the skin up to the dermis which contains collagen and elastin. It even penetrates deeper than the UV one.
Artificial blue light is far more detrimental to your skin than blue light from the sun, so you are more vulnerable to blue light risk than the generations that didn’t see such developments. Smartphones and computers have become part and parcel of every aspect of life and almost everyone cannot do without them. A 2016 study showed that millennials check their phones about 150 times a day while older adults check theirs about 30 times. This translates to a significantly higher amount of blue light from devices than what the sun would normally expose you to, not to mention screens are usually right next to your face!
Dangers Blue Light Poses to Your Skin
It’s Aging You Faster
High energy visible (HEV) or blue light, stimulates a process known as photo-aging which happens in several ways:
- Weakens elasticity- When blue light penetrates the skin, it produces reactive oxygen species that damage the DNA. This, in turn, causes inflammation that breaks down collagen and elastin which are responsible for keeping the skin firm. The end result is the appearance of sagged skin and wrinkles.
- Hyperpigmentation- A 2010 study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology concluded that exposing skin blue light causes pigmentation. Carotenoids that give colour to the skin are depleted with repeated exposure to blue light. Pigmentation gives a person an illusion of being older than they actually are which no one likes. Dermatologists have even noticed that pigmentation now occurs mostly on the side of the face where the phone is held rather than the cheeks which was the norm previously.
Deprivation of Sleep
‘Beauty sleep’ is not just a random figure of speech; a good night’s sleep is very crucial for healthy and beautiful skin. Prolonged exposure to blue light at night is an impediment to getting a full night’s rest. The body’s circadian rhythm or internal clock is dependent on the presence or lack of blue light from the sun.
At night when blue light from the sun is no longer available, the brain secretes melatonin, a hormone that induces sleep. It lowers the body temperature and that’s when you start to feel drowsy. When the sun comes up in the morning, the eye’s photoreceptor known as melanopsin receives blue light and sends a signal to the brain. This signal tells the brain to stop producing melatonin, increasing body temperature and you begin to wake up.
Exposure to blue light at night confuses the body because the brain is tricked to believe it’s still day time so it doesn’t induce sleep. This causes insomnia and disrupts the revitalizing and repair process the skin goes through while you are asleep. The result is that you wake up with dark and droopy skin around your eyes. In this way, the artificial blue light will be a great hindrance to you achieving that fresh-faced, glowing skin.
What Can You Do to Protect Your Skin?
Anti-oxidizing skin products
The skincare market now has products that counter the negative effects of blue light. Sunscreens that contain anti-oxidizing elements should be essential in your beauty regime especially if you spend a lot of time in front of screens. The skin naturally has antioxidants that protect you from HEV light from the sun, so applying additional antioxidants will ensure you are well-protected from artificial blue light.
Keep Your Devices Far Away From Your Face
To keep your skin away from blue light exposure, use headphones, loudspeaker or just text. Furthermore, avoid sitting too close to your computer screen. The recommended distance is 25 inches or an arm’s length from the display.
Use Blue Light Filters
According to ocushield.com, blue light filters are an effective way of keeping away blue light from your skin. They come in the form of both physical and software filters.
Software such as Night Shift comes pre-installed in your device. If not, you can get one from the application store of your given device. However, blue light filtering software tends to distort the display of your screen because of the yellow tinge that they give your screen.
Physical filters include screen protectors for both your computer and smartphones and blue light blocking glasses for your eyes. Screen protectors filter blue light from your display without distorting the contrast. Blue light blocking glasses, also known as computer glasses, are specially designed to block them from reaching your eyes as you look at your computer or smartphone. They also protect you from blue light emitted by overhead LED bulbs. You can test how well a screen protector or computer glasses filter it using a blue filter test.
Your skin is your first impression of the world so it ought to be at its best.