We’re no strangers to the notion that the blue light that emanates from our phone, laptop, tablet and TV screens can be super damaging to our wellbeing, but so far—the conversation has revolved almost exclusively around its detriments in regards to sleep health.
Well, the tides are turning—as more research comes to light (excuse the pun) about the effects that blue light could be having on our skin. Here’s what you need to know.
In the same vein as most of the research around blue light has so far surrounded sleep and eye health, most of the research around light on skin has revolved around ultraviolet light. We know that UVB rays (aka, the sun), can cause skin damage by injuring DNA, while UVA rays trigger the formation of reactive oxygen species that can promote skin ageing—and thus speed up the process.
A 2017 study, however, concluded that blue light—which has similar properties to UVA in terms of wavelength, generated reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the skin. And in a 2012 study, visible light (including blue light) was found to generate ROS as well as increase certain enzymes that degrade collagen and contribute to wrinkling of the skin. It’s worth noting however that the amount of blue light that was used in this study was similar to that of what we would get from the sun—which is way more than from our smartphones and other devices.
The main takeaway from this is that blue light from the sun can cause skin damage—so making sure you’re wearing sunscreen (ideally one that contains antioxidants—as the 2012 study found that these can decrease the impact of blue light on the skin) is super important for skin health, but hell—we knew that already, didn’t we ladies?!
Blue light and ageing
Look, the jury is still well and truly out on whether or not the blue light from our digital devices is wreaking havoc on our skin—but it’s pretty clear that it’s indirectly causing damage.
The link between lack of sleep and stress on the quality of your skin is absolutely undeniable. Sleep is vital for skin health, as it’s when our bodies do the hard yards of repair, so missing out on valuable zzz’s is inevitably going to lead to dull, lifeless and, sorry to say it, prematurely-aged skin.
Exposure to blue light in the hours leading up to sleep does a number on our circadian rhythm and sleep quality—which can contribute to dry skin, wrinkles, and inflammation.
Blue light blocking glasses or screen protectors are one way that you could minimise the damage of devices on your sleep and stress levels—which could indirectly prevent damage to your skin and slow down the ageing process.