The Bad About Blue Light

In conversations about screen time, you’ve probably heard the warnings about damage to your eyes and effects on sleep or how too much TV or tablet time can harm your child’s development. But what about the impact of blue light on your skin?

What Is Blue Light? 

Blue light is a form of visible light with a wavelength between 400 and 500 nanometers. It’s found in sunlight as well as in many electronic devices. The human eye is most sensitive to this range of wavelengths of the light spectrum, which means we see it first. Our eyes then filter out the rest of the spectrum.

Blue light also penetrates deeper into the skin than the other colors on the light spectrum, which means the potential for skin damage. 

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, recently classified cell phones as possibly carcinogenic to humans. It also noted sufficient evidence linking blue light exposure to certain cancers, including melanoma.

The Sun and Your Skin

Sunlight is essential to your body; it helps your skin make vitamin D, necessary for normal bone function and health. If you don’t get enough vitamin D, your body could experience changes in bone density, osteoporosis, diabetes and heart disease

But like anything, too much of a good thing isn’t that great after all. 

Too much sunlight can also cause damage to your skin because when its UV rays enter your skin cells, they disrupt the body’s processes that can impact how your skin looks and how it repairs itself (remember, your skin cells are constantly turning over). Over time, too much exposure to these UV rays can make the skin less elastic, meaning that you may see the signs of aging sooner rather than later. 

Too much sun over long periods of time can also increase your risk of developing skin cancer — and skin cancer rates are increasing worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, the rate of non-melanoma and melanoma skin cancers has increased over the past decades. 

Statistics from the WHO say that between two and three million non-melanoma skin cancers are diagnosed worldwide annually, while 132,000 melanoma skin cancers are diagnosed. 

In the United States, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.

Blue Light and The Sleep Cycle

Blue light exposure from the sun throughout the daytime hours helps to keep your body clock, also known as the circadian rhythm, on schedule. This means, generally that you wake up when it’s light out and go to sleep when it’s dark. 

Blue light impacts your melatonin levels, the hormone that makes you feel sleepy. When this happens, you may have trouble going to sleep and find yourself tossing and turning during nighttime hours. 

When you’re overexposed to blue light like from scrolling your phone or tablet or watching TV, it can signal to the brain that it’s time to be awake and make it hard for you to fall asleep. We recommend that you avoid blue light-emitting devices for at least an hour before bedtime. 

Blue Light and Your Skin

According to an article from Everyday Health, some studies have found blue light to: 

  • Induce oxidative stress, causing inflammation of the skin and breakdown in collagen
  • Cause areas of uneven pigment
  • Contribute photoaging (just like the sun’s rays!)
  • Make your skin appear older

How Can You Limit Exposure to Blue Light?

Blue light is everywhere. It comes from both natural and artificial sources. Here are some tips to limit your exposure:

Limit Screen Time. Avoid staring at the screens of digital devices for long periods. The closer you sit to the TV or computer monitor, the higher the level of blue light emitted by the device. We also recommend that you avoid other sources of artificial light like LED light and fluorescent light before bed. 

Wear Sunglasses. Choose glasses with an amber tint. These lenses filter out 90 to 95 percent of blue light. You can also purchase blue-blocking glasses to protect your eyes when you look at digital devices and other sources of artificial light. 

Consider Using an App. Apps like f.lux and Twilight are designed to adjust your display’s color temperature based on your location. This prevents you from being exposed to too much blue light when working at night.

Take Care of Your Skin. Exfoliate regularly. Scrubbing away dead skin cells allows the body to absorb nutrients better.

Use Sunscreen. Apply sunscreen every day. SPF 30 or above will help prevent damage caused by blue light. In addition, we recommend sunscreen products explicitly formulated to block blue light, such as Colorescience. Colorescience products can help protect your skin from blue light and ultraviolet light and the damage these rays can cause. 

Protect Yourself From Harmful Ultraviolet Rays. Ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B rays are also dangerous. So be sure to apply sunscreen every day, even after applying a moisturizer. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Look for products labeled “broad spectrum.”

Learn more about Colorescience and how it can help protect your skin all year long.