How Does Blue Light Affect Your Skin?

It’s an understatement to say that many of us have been spending a lot of time at home recently. As stay-at-home orders have been enacted throughout the country, including here in North Carolina, many of us have gotten used to new domestic routines… routines that often involve a lot of screen time. So how does blue light affect skin?

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with consuming content on tablets, phones, TVs, and other devices, it’s worth noting some of the questions that arise regarding their impact on physical and emotional health. One particular subject of discussion is the blue light that our electronic devices emit. Many have contacted us here at Charlotte Plastic Surgery to ask: Can blue light damage skin?

We recently had a chance to address this and a few related questions in a TV news segment. Here’s a quick recap of our commentary.

Can Blue Light Damage Skin?

As we use our tablets and our phones, most of us are unaware of the blue light that’s being emitted; you can’t really see it, and it’s easy to forget it altogether. Still, it’s important to ask: Is all this exposure to blue light damaging our bodies, specifically our skin?

“We’re all aware of the UVA/UVB that we get from sunlight,” remarks Dr. Kevin Smith, one of our skilled plastic surgeons. And yet, those forms of light only represent part of the light that’s emitted from the sun. As Dr. Smith notes, science has started to learn much more about the visible light, or blue light, that exists in our world, and is so often emitted by electronic devices.

“It’s damaging, but in a different way,” explains Dr. Smith. “We know that UVA/UVB causes DNA damage, but the high-energy blue light that comes from our screens and our phones causes cellular damage. It really weakens the mitochondria, or the cellular powerhouses. [This means] the cells don’t have enough energy to recover.”

Continues Dr. Smith, “Blue light also causes a lot of free radical damage that physically damages the skin and causes pigmentation.”

So if the question is does blue light affect skin, the answer is a resounding yes. And yet, the visual effect is a little bit different than the damage you’d see from UV exposure.

“UVA/UVB causes redness and sunburns,” notes Dr. Smith. “Blue light causes blotchy pigmentation and lack of cellular energy.”

Needless to say, none of us want to deal with a blotchy complexion… but as we’re still quarantined at home and glued to our devices, is there anything that can be done to keep our skin clear and healthy?


Treating Damage from Blue Light

Dr. Smith points to a few ways to treat skin that has been damaged by blue light exposure.

“There are physical blockers, but they’re not that effective,” says Dr. Smith. “I think the key is finding good mineral sun protection that includes titanium oxide or zinc oxide. More importantly, get iron oxide, which reflects, scatters, and absorbs the blue light energy. In addition, use directed antioxidants like green tea extract and grapeseed extract. Bioflavinoids help to vacuum up the free radicals that affect the skin and the cells.”

According to Dr. Smith, blue light penetrates the skin much more deeply than UV light, which means it does real metabolic damage. As such, it’s important to take preemptive measures.

That’s something our skincare experts can help you with; indeed, as you think about ways to protect your skin even from the omnipresent blue light of quarantine, there are a couple of specific products that we recommend. These products fall in line with Dr. Smith’s recommendations from the news.


Two Skincare Products to Protect Your Skin from Blue Light

The two skincare products we recommend are SkinMedica Lumivive and Colorescience Sunforgettable Brush.

SkinMedica’s Lumivive product is actually a skincare system that fortifies your skin against environmental attacks during the day, while increasing its capacity to recover during the night. This product helps safeguard your skin from atmospheric irritants, whether that’s blue light or other pollutants. When you use this product, you may start to see significant improvements to your skin tone and clarity, in as little as two weeks. Note that Lumivive includes both daytime and nighttime serums, and it works best if you use both components as directed.

As for the Colorescience Sunforgettable Brush, this is a brush-on SPF shield that gives your skin a high level of protection against the effects of the sun. This all-mineral product can be applied any time, even when you’re on the go, and it works perfectly fine if you apply it over makeup.

With these skincare products, you’ll have what you need to minimize the damage done by blue light.


Minimizing Your Exposure to Blue Light

Something else to think about is making lifestyle changes that limit your exposure to blue light. Again, we understand that this may be especially challenging in the COVID-19 era. With that said, we can recommend a few basic changes. Every little bit helps.

  • Make sure you’re using soft, warm, white light bulbs in your home. Much of our blue light exposure actually comes from lighting fixtures, but this can be reduced.
  • Keep your phone turned off or tucked away during bedtime hours. Make sure your body has a good long stretch to recover from blue light exposure.
  • Access the settings on your phone or tablet to turn down the brightness, especially as it starts to get darker in the evening time. (Those with iPhones may want to look into the Night Shift setting.)
  • Buy a screen filter for your computer, which can help mediate the blue light that’s emitted.
  • Plan at least a couple of activities each day that you can enjoy without any screens present.

Do you have any further questions about the effects of blue light on the skin? Or about specific products you can use to keep your skin safe and healthy? Reach out to Charlotte Plastic Surgery at any time. We’re happy to advise on these and other matters related to skin health.