You’re probably well aware of the effects of UVA/UVB rays on your skin at this point. We all know about the benefits of a good sunscreen!

But what about blue light? What is it, why are we more exposed to it than ever, and what is it doing to our skin?

What is blue light?

Blue light (also known as high-energy visible light, or HEV) is the light that is emitted from our electronic devices: think phones, tablets, and computers. As a person who uses a laptop all day for work, I get a lot of exposure to blue light.

HEV is found in the blue portion of the visible light spectrum. This is a bit complicated, but it has a longer wavelength than ultraviolet light (like UV), which means it may penetrate more deeply into the skin.

But what impact can it have on our skin? Does it really make us age more quickly?

Ageing

Blue light may trigger oxidative stress. This means that there is an imbalance of antioxidants and free radicals in your body. This may cause skin cells to become damaged, giving the appearance of ageing more quickly.

Irritation

Other people experience irritation in the skin when they are exposed to blue light, including swelling and redness. This sounds strange but when you think about it, and studies have yet to definitively prove this link.

It’s also easy for skin irritation to flare up for a bunch of reasons, and many people (including me) touch their skin without realising it throughout the day, which may cause irritation. Still, it could be that blue light is the culprit for mysterious skin redness.

Hyperpigmentation

Blue light can actually cause hyperpigmentation in the skin, and this is particularly prevalent for darker skin tones. Hyperpigmentation is seen when a patch (or sometimes multiple patches) of skin become darker than the rest.

This is typically harmless, but can make you feel self-conscious, and can be an annoying problem to deal with.

Breakdown of collagen

Some claim that an excessive amount of blue light can lead to the breakdown of collagen. This is via the same process of oxidative stress that we talked about earlier.

Collagen is really important for several reasons: skin elasticity, hydration, strong, and healthy skin in general. As we get older, collagen levels naturally drop: this is why we start to develop wrinkles over time. However, blue light can cause collagen to break down more quickly.

How to deal with blue light exposure

Many of us work on computers all day, and many more of us are glued to our phones – blue light is a huge part of everyday life.

So, how can you mitigate these risks?

SPF

A good sunscreen can help; physical sunscreens are best here, as they are better at creating a barrier to protect your skin from blue light exposure.

According to the British Association of Dermatologists, moisturiser with sunscreen built in may not be as effective as a separate sunscreen.

Night mode

You can also switch to ‘night mode’ on your phone or chosen device. This eliminates the blue light, switching to yellow light instead. It’s a bit of a shift to get used to, but it is better for your skin.

Repair and recovery

Finally, you can also think about repair. Keeping up with a simple but consistent skincare routine can help to reduce redness, so keep that going.

Avoid using new products if you’re having a flare-up of redness; it may make it worse, especially if you’re sensitive to new things.

You can also consider taking collagen supplements, which may help – but at the time of writing, the jury’s out on whether this helps to prevent signs of ageing or not. It’s definitely worth going into this with a pinch of salt, but it still may be worth a try.

Blue light – other risks

Of course, the easiest way to avoid excessive exposure to blue light is to cut down on screen time. But when you use screens for a job, it’s hard to do this!

Blue light can impact us in other ways, too, including disrupting sleep patterns. Being mindful of phone usage, particularly just before bed, can be beneficial for many reasons.

Featured Image Credit: Daria Nepriakhina

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