Should You Be Concerned About Blue Light Skin Damage?

Should You Be Concerned About Blue Light Skin Damage?

You know UVA and UVB light can damage your skin and increase your skin cancer risk, but can blue light affect your skin, too? Blue light may not get as much attention as UV rays when it comes to your skin health, but too much of it may age your skin — so it’s important to understand what it is, what it does, and how to protect your skin. Here’s what you need to know.

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What Is Blue Light?

Blue light — also known as high energy visible light (HEV) — refers to the high-energy, short-wavelength rays of light on the blue to violet end of the visible light spectrum.

“The sunlight spectrum consists of ultraviolet, visible, and infrared light,” says Hadley King, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in NYC. Blue light falls within the visible spectrum, meaning it can be detected with the human eye, King adds.

The vast majority of blue light comes from the sun. (It’s the reason we see a blue sky on a sunny day.) Some blue light also comes from LED lighting and the screens of smartphones, computers, tablets, and televisions.

Blue light plays a role in the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. During the day, blue light from the sun may have a positive effect on alertness and mood, whereas too much blue light before bedtime may disrupt your circadian rhythm.


Blue Light Vs. UV Light

Unlike blue light, ultraviolet rays are invisible to most humans. Two specific types of UV rays — UVA and UVB — have been linked to skin damage including wrinkles, sunburn, and skin cancer.

Blue light isn’t as dangerous as UV light, but it may still affect your skin. “It is not associated with skin cancer like UV rays are, but it can cause skin to age prematurely,” King says. “It can also contribute to hyperpigmentation and may play a part in melasma and age spots.” Research suggests blue light may also generate free radicals, which are associated with inflammation and skin damage.

It’s possible blue light may have some positive effects as well — some dermatologists use blue light treatments for certain skin conditions. However, there’s not a ton of research yet to back up their efficacy.


How Can You Protect Your Skin From Blue Light Damage?

When it comes to manmade blue light, you may be able to block it at its source. “One option is to install covers that block the blue light from smartphones, tablets and computer monitors,” King says. “These are readily available online. Or enable the ‘night mode’ settings on your digital devices permanently — this significantly reduces the blue light.”

As far as the blue light from sunlight goes, King cautions that just because a sunscreen is “broad spectrum” and protects against UVA and UVB rays, it doesn’t necessarily mean blue light is included. She recommends looking for specific ingredients like zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, and iron oxide to help block the rays, or check the product description to see if blue light protection is mentioned.


4 Sunscreens that Protect Against Blue Light Skin Damage

Protect your skin this summer — and all year long — with these sunscreens.

1. Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40

This oil-free, unscented sunscreen protects against damage from UVA rays, UVB rays, and blue light.

Get it here.

2. COOLA Sun Silk Drops

This organic SPF 30 sunscreen protects again skin damage from the sun and from “digital overexposure.”

Get it here.

3. Brush on Block Mineral Sunscreen

Powder sunscreen? Yep! This brush-on, reef-safe mineral powder sunscreen protects with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.

Get it here.

4. Honest Beauty Clean Corrective with Vitamin C Tinted Moisturizer

Perfect for everyday wear, this tinted moisturizer provides SPF 30 protection and blue light defense thanks to titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.

Get it here.