It’s no news that spending long hours in front of a screen can have some serious effects on our health, from dry eye and headaches to messed up circadian rhythm and digital eye strain. Turns out, continual blue light exposure can take a toll on our skin as well.
But first off, what is blue light? And how exactly does it impact our skin health?
“Blue light is the shortest wavelength of the visible light spectrum,” tells New Orleans-based dermatologist, Dr. Mary Lupo. “It is closest to ultraviolet light which causes accelerated aging of the skin,” she adds.
“Sunlight is the main source of blue light and being outdoors during daytime is where we get most of our exposure to it. But there are also many man-made sources of blue light, including fluorescent and LED lighting and flat-screen televisions,” notes Visha Skincare founder, Dr. Purvisha Patel. In addition, the display screens of our smartphones, laptops, tablets and other digital devices also emit significant amounts of blue light, adds the skin specialist.
“The amount of HEV light (High-Energy Visible light) these devices emit is only a fraction of that emitted by the sun. But the amount of time people spend using these devices and the proximity of these screens to the user’s face has dermatologists concerned about its long-term effects,” says Dr. Patel.
Research shows that blue light exposure can lead to oxidative damage in the skin. “This oxidative stress accelerates collagen breakdown and can cause fine lines, wrinkles and bags,” explains Dr. Patel. “The damage is further accelerated by squinting (moving the muscles around the eyes a lot which creates fine lines). In addition, inflammatory hyperpigmentation conditions of the skin such as melasma, can also be exacerbated with blue light,” notes the dermatologist.
How do anti-blue light damage skincare products work?
Blue light protection skincare works by physically blocking the light and fighting off free radicals formed by blue light before they can wreak havoc on your skin (photoaging, collagen breakdown, sagging, dark spots, etc.).
For best results, look for products that contain zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, iron oxide and/or antioxidants such as vitamin C as key ingredients, suggests Dr. Kellie Reed, Austin-based board-certified dermatologist.
Even products with green tea polyphenols, Coenzyme Q, resorcinol and vitamin E would work well, says Dr. Katina Miles, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Skin Oasis Dermatology (SOD). Besides, avoid choosing chemical-based sunscreens as they are hormone disrupters and are harmful to coral reefs, suggests the skincare expert.
While anti-blue light damage skincare products are typically safe to use, it’s always best to consult with your dermatologist before incorporating anything new into your skincare routine.
Besides wearing an anti-blue light damage cream or serum, “try to dim your screens (without causing eye strain) and use night mode on your devices in the evening to minimize exposure to blue light,” suggests Dr. Reed.
Are all kinds of blue light harmful to the skin?
Contrary to what you might think, not all blue light is bad for our skin. “Blue light is one wavelength in the visual light that we see every day. We, as dermatologists, use blue light to treat various skin conditions such as actinic keratosis and acne,” explains Dr. Miles.
In addition, it’s also used short-term in dermatological practice for treating precancerous lesions—when combined with various topical treatments, adds Dr. Reed.
The best blue light protection skincare products to try rn, according to dermatologists:
Without further ado, here are the best derm-approved blue light protection skincare picks for you:
Dr. Patel recommends using this ultra-rich certified organic cream that not only shields the skin from UVA/UVB rays but also helps mitigate the effects of blue light and pollution. Formulated with potent botanicals like sacred lotus, jasmine and white peony, the cream also deeply nourishes the skin, fights free radical damage and evens skin tone.
Packed with zinc oxide, peptides and vitamin E, this ultralight tinted sunscreen protects the skin from and repairs existing signs of sun damage while reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
Enriched with iron oxides and niacinamide, this hydrating, hypoallergenic sunscreen provides complete protection from environmental stressors including UVA/UVB, pollution, blue light and infrared radiation. Plus, its lightweight formula seamlessly blends into the skin to provide invisible coverage.
Both Dr. Miles and Dr. Reed recommend this cult-favorite vitamin C serum by Skinceuticals that delivers advanced environmental protection and visibly improves the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while firming up sagging skin and brightening the complexion. The multitasking serum is suitable for normal, combination and sensitive skin.
Revision’s C+ Correcting Complex 30% has a non-greasy formula that defends and corrects the damaging effects of free radicals generated by Urban Dust and HEV light. Plus, it features innovative prebiotic technology to further nourish the skin and refine skin texture.
Loaded with vitamins C and E along with 17 additional antioxidant ingredients, this potent serum provides comprehensive protection against free radical damage while improving the appearance of uneven skin tone and redness.
Dr. Reed recommends this tinted sunscreen that provides weightless broad-spectrum UV protection. Formulated with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, its oil-absorbing base offers a long-lasting matte finish making it ideal to wear over makeup.
Skin Oasis Dermatology’s skin-brightening serum packs the goodness of vitamin C, Kojic acid and arbutin to shield the skin from damaging free radicals, reduce excessive and unwanted pigmentation while improving skin tone and brightening the complexion.
Dr. Miles recommends this antioxidant-rich face serum that offers advanced protection against environmental aggressors like pollution and blue light while diminishing the appearance of discoloration and fine lines. The versatile Vitamin C serum is suitable for normal, oily and combination skin types.