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Screen Use –Is All That Blue Light Making Me Look Older?

Woman working on a laptop

It’s no surprise that the amount of time we spend behind screens has increased over the last few decades. We’re constantly exposed to light from our phones, computers, TVs and LED or fluorescent lights. On the current trajectory of technological advancement, the amount of screen time we’re exposed to will only increase.

While most have been aware of the importance of UVA and UVB protection for decades, blue light has only recently been brought to consumers’ attention. Now, the correlation between increased screen time and“blue light” and the impact its rays can have on the skin and face is front and center.

What is blue light and why there is so much buzz around it now?

Blue light is a segment of the spectrum of visible light made up of short-wavelength, high-energy light. While the majority of our blue light exposure comes from the sun, we are exposed to a significant dose from other sources.In fact, blue light comes fromLED or fluorescent bulbs in our homes or offices, television screens, our smartphones and our laptop, tablet and desktop screens.

While we already spent a great deal of time being short distances (let’s call it arm’s length or closer) in front of screens, it’s only increased in recent months and years. This technological shift has led our blue light exposure to increasingly come more from artificial sources, like smartphones, than from traditional sun exposure.

According to Dr. Vivian Bucay, “blue light generally is defined as visible light ranging from 380 to 500 nm. It can be further broken down into blue-violet light (roughly 380 to 450 nm) and blue-turquoise light (roughly 450 to 500 nm).” In fact, about one-third of all visible light can be considered high-energy visible (HEV) or blue light. She adds, “There is an inverse relationship between the wavelength of light rays and the amount of energy they contain. Energy decreases with increasing wavelength meaning shorter wavelengths equal higher energy and longer wavelengths equal lower energy.” In short, “the longer the wavelength, the deeper the light’s rays penetrate skin.”

More focus has been put on blue light and the impact it can have on our skin and eyes in recent years. This impact of blue light seemed to quickly go from a more unknown topic to a much talked-about skincare concern amongst consumers. Similarly, increased research and interest has led to a surge of protective products and skincare innovations alike that seek to protect us against the harm of blue light rays.

Is blue light harmful to skin?

Like UV rays, blue light exposure can be damaging to your skin and eyes.It has been shown that blue-violet light can lead to skin discoloration or pigmentation. These are often referred to as dark spots. The breakdown of collagen naturally occurs as we age. However, sun and blue light exposure can also speed up this aging process. This can lead to an accelerated appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and a decrease in skin firmness and elasticity.

How is it confirmed by research?

There has been extensive research being conducted in response to the rise of screen time. According to Dr. Bucay, there was a 2014 study“comparing the effects of UV radiation and visible light (blue-violet 415 nm) on the skin of healthy volunteers, it was shown that blue-violet light induced a marked and prolonged dose-related pigmentation that lasted up to 3 months.”In contrast, “red light had no effect on pigmentation.”The study also showed an “increase in pigmentation occurred in individuals with naturally darker pigmentation (types III and IV, typical of darker white skin, Latino and Asian skin types).”

How can you limit blue light exposure?

There are many simple solutions we can implement into our routines to help combat excessive blue light exposure. Spending more time away from our devices is the most obvious solution. However, limiting screen time, while effective to decrease blue light exposure, can feel impossible when our lives, jobs and communications revolve around screens. Adding on blue light screen protectors to your devices is an easy way to decrease exposure. There are many affordable options sold at major online retailers for all types of devices.

Eyeglasses, with and without a prescription lenses, now come with blue light protection. This wearable accessory is a great option for protecting eyes from blue light exposure for when staring at a phone or computer monitor for long periods is unavoidable.

Wearing sunscreen is always recommended when going outside to help prevent skin damage caused by harmful UV or UBV rays. But, wearing sunscreen can also help limit the impact of blue light coming from indoor lights or our devices.That is why we recommend wearing sunscreen every day, regardless of if your day is spent inside or out. It’s good to remember that not all sunscreen protects against visible light. It’s important to read the ingredient list to make sure the sunscreen provides protection from all types of light. Look for ingredients like Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide.

Which ingredients should we look for?

There are countless sunscreens on the market. The abundance of options can make it difficult to know which are actually providing skin with the protection it needs. When looking for sunscreens that provide blue light protection, we recommend you look out for ingredients like Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide. Exposure to blue light is particularly higher with young adults in their 20s and 30s, as screen use is often higher with this age group.

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