While the countless hours we spend scrolling our FYPs is probably contributing to the deterioration of our mental well-being, it might also be wreaking havoc on our skin. Under-eye wrinkles, discoloration, and dark circles — these are just some of the possible side effects that come with blue light exposure.
Blue light (which according to board-certified dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology Marisa Garshick, MD, is a high-energy, short wavelength light that is part of the visible light spectrum that can come from the sun, computer and phone screens, and other digital devices), has been a hot topic as of late when it comes to skincare. Many products claim to protect skin from this light that cause premature signs of aging.
But how much we actually have to worry about this? Does blue light really cause things like under-eye wrinkles? And is there anything we can do about it? To answer all your burning questions on this subject, we turned to the experts. See what they had to say below.
How does blue light affect the skin?
Both Dr. Garshick and board-certified dermatologist and founder of NicholsMD of Greenwhich, Kim Nichols, MD, say that more research needs to be done to definitively say that blue light has any effect our skin. However, there are smaller studies that seem to support the idea that this type of light can contribute to signs of aging and other skin concerns.
Dr. Garshick points to a study done in 2015 that suggests that blue light possibly stimulates the production of free radicals in skin, which results in things like wrinkles and skin damage. Another study done in 2010 shows that skin exposed to blue LED light has more pigmentation.
“Blue light is certainly suspected to cause damage to the skin though as it can induce oxidative stress, which in turn disrupts skin’s barrier and damages cells,” adds Dr. Nichols. “This can then result in accelerated aging of the skin, discoloration, and increase the appearance of dark circles under the eyes.”
“Although these studies are small, it is important to consider the impact of blue light,” says Dr. Garshick. “Especially now with prolonged periods of screen time.” She adds that although the impact is not fully known just yet, it is important to note that blue light penetrates deeper than UV rays.
So, can blue light cause under-eye wrinkles?
It’s possible. Dr. Nichols says that blue light can damage the under-eye and eyelid area, as those are the thinnest parts of our faces. They are also already susceptible to skin concerns such as fine lines, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation. Dr. Garshick agrees and says that some studies have suggested that exposure to blue may affect your vision and be related to other vision changes, such as retinal macular degeneration. She also says that exposure to blue light might also interfere with your circadian rhythm and sleep cycle, which will then cause you to not feel well-rested and your skin will look and feel tired.
How should you protect your skin from blue light?
One of the best ways to protect your skin from blue light is doing the same thing you would normally do to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays: use sunscreen and incorporate antioxidants into your skincare routine. “All of the precautions taken with UVA and UVB rays should also be taken to help protect your skin from the effects of blue light,” says Dr. Nichols. “That means using an antioxidant to prevent damage from free radicals and other environmental stressors, applying and re-applying ample amounts of SPF.”
Dr. Garshick recommends using tinted mineral sunscreens as they protect the skin from UVA and UVB lights and blue light specifically. “Not all sunscreens are able to block against blue light, so it is important to look for ones containing certain blue-light protecting ingredients such as iron oxide,” she explains.
As for the antioxidants that you should keep your eye out for, these will help neutralize the free radical damage that might occur when your skin is exposed to blue light. Dr. Nichols lists vitamin C and E as important ones to look out for. Dr. Garshick agrees and adds red algae and ectoin to that list.
Other ways to protect your skin from blue light include using a blue light blocking screen protector (Dr. Garshick likes this one from EyeJust) and reducing time outdoors in the sun and on your screen overall. Dr. Nichols adds that protective clothing such as hats and glasses for both indoor and outdoor will be crucial for shielding your skin from blue light.