Blue Light and Skin Damage: What is the blue light effect on skin?

By now you've probably heard about blue light – maybe you've read that it can disrupt your sleep or even affect your eyes. There’s a good chance you've stumbled upon blue light blocking glasses or even screen protectors, but have you seen blue light blocking skincare? The category is popping up – but what’s the deal? Can blue light really impact your skin? The short answer: yes. Luckily, there’s some simple swaps you can make to protect yourself.

What is blue light and where does it come from?

This is a form of light with a very short wavelength, not to be confused with UVA or UVB Rays, it’s emitted from a wide variety of places – the sun, indoor lighting, and all of your screens. The blue light found in nature plays a critical role in regulating our bodies circadian rhythm (aka our sleep cycle), and it can affect our mood, memory, and overall cognitive function. But given that we’re spending more and more indoors and in front of screens (thanks Covid) concerns around long term exposure to blue light have been growing.

What is the blue light effect on skin?

Blue light can penetrate deeper into your skin than UVA or UVB rays. In fact, it reaches all the way to your dermis, where collagen and elastin live.  Because of this, it has the ability to impact the firmness of our skin and increase visible lines (especially compared to UV rays). Early studies have shown a link between blue light and skin damage and suggest that it could be inducing pigmentation – think brown spots, discoloration, melasma, or even photoaging.

The important thing to keep in mind is that the effects of blue light aren’t visible right away, much like sun exposure, damage from blue light takes time. The more exposure to blue light your skin faces, the more your skin's regenerative cycle gets thrown off, leading to more damage potential down the line.

What does this mean for my skincare routine?

Most dermatologists are recommending that we take a more protective stance when it comes to our skin – especially given this increased screen time. If one of your goals is to help minimize the effects of blue light, there’s one major goal your skincare routine should accomplish: it should help neutralize unstable molecules that are caused by free radical formation.

Translation? Antioxidants are critical. If you're already regularly applying an antioxidant serum or moisturizer, you're likely already protecting yourself from the damage that can come from blue light. Try MDSolarSciences Daily Anti-Aging Moisturizer, packed with Antioxidants to combat the effects of blue light.Another way to protect your skin is to make sure your SPF contains a physical sun protection active ingredient like Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide. Why? Mineral or physical sunscreens work by reflecting rays away from the skin, so they will protect against UV rays and blue light.  Make sure to invest in a mineral sunscreen, and if it also contains antioxidants including vitamin B3 or Niacinamide, even better.  Some of our favorites include our Mineral Cream SPF 50 which has a lightweight feel and blends seamlessly to skin with an incredible matte finish.  Our Beauty Balm is another great option with SPF 50, especially if you’re looking for a tinted option to help even out skin and reduce discoloration.

And if you have had a bad experience with mineral sunscreen or think of Zinc as the colorful thick warlike paint on football players’ faces, the good news is that it has changed… a lot. MDSolarSciences’ mineral SPF all have incredible velvety textures, don’t leave any white cast behind and provide an invisible matte finish on the skin.

What else can I do to protect my skin from blue light?

Aside from upgrading your skin care routine there are a few at home tricks to try:

  1. Invest in a blue light filter for your screens - from your computer to your cell phone. This will benefit your skin, your eyes, and your screen cycle.
  2. It’s also recommended to lower the brightness on your screen up to 50%.
  3. Take advantage of your device’s nighttime setting – these tint your phone to a yellow hue to counterbalance blue light.
  4. Make sure you’re getting antioxidants through your diet – rich leafy greens and fruits like blueberries will give your skin an antioxidant boost.
  5. Whenever you can, spend time away from your devices. Remember, the less blue light you're exposed to the better chance your skin has of being protected.
  6. And wear more SPF!