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Blue light and your skin

From Gemma Clare, Ocushield's resident skin expert

WHAT IS BLUE LIGHT?

Blue light is a common part of the visible spectrum. In simpler words, it is a component of the light we have all around us. It is in both sunlight and the light emitted by electronic devices, such as computer screens, mobile phones, smart watches, and everything in between.

HOW DOES BLUE LIGHT AFFECT US?

As with any other component of the light spectrum, blue light has its particular purpose. Based on the changing wavelength, blue light rays can range from very dangerous to quite useful (during the day).

Blue light rays with the shortest wavelength have the highest amount of energy and are the most harmful. However, the higher the wavelength the less dangerous the blue light. To be specific, blue light rays with wavelength of 450 nm or shorter are considered very harmful, while those between 470 nm and 500 nm are deemed healthy during the day.

The range of blue light that is healthy for our brain chemistry in daytime helps produce melatonin – a hormone that regulates the body’s sleep-wake cycle. When we take in too much blue light even during daytime often through excessive use of computer or smartphone screens, they hurt our eyes and skin. But in the night time, these harmful effects double up, disturbing the sleep-wake cycle along with more damage to the eyes.

How does blue light affect your skin?

What if we told you that staring at your computer screen all day was contributing to premature ageing? Or those selfies added towards fine lines?

We spend 50% of our time staring at screens, and since the Covid pandemic 60% of people are now spending more than six hours a day in front of a digital device, which exposes us to a substantial amount of blue light. Did you know the blue light that comes from digital screens is High Energy Visible (HEV) light, the same light that comes from the sun.

A recent report fro Unilever found that...

30 hours looking at screens increases skin inflammation by 40%

We grow up knowing the importance of protecting our skin from the sun, but we forget about the screens that are even closer to us. Studies reveal millennials check their phones an average of 150 times a day so an added element of skincare may well be needed. So how does blue light change our skin?

Photogenic-Ageing

Long-term exposure to blue light can damage your skin including changes to colour, inflammation and texture. This is because blue light changes the chemicals in our skin, which causes premature ageing, known as photogenic-ageing.

Pigmentation Changes

Dermatologists have good evidence to show that visible light triggers certain skin conditions, such as melasma, where the skin is stimulated to produce more pigment.

Oxidative Stress

Blue light induces oxidative stress, which can lead to inflammation and collagen degeneration.

Why does this matter? Your body regenerates a certain baseline level of collagen each day. Blue light not only damages the collagen cells in your skin (forcing your body to create cells faster than it is capable), it also damages the physical collagen cells in your body, which causes inflammation that contributes to skin diseases such as cancer.

How to protect your skin

Extended exposure to blue light can cause fine lines and pigmentation changes to the skin. Luckily there are a number of steps you can take to protect yourself, including using an Ocushield filter.

Find out more from our friends at illuminate Skin Clinic

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