The Impact of Blue Light on the Skin

Our skin is not only subjected to the dangers of ultraviolet radiation (UVA and UVB) rays, but also to another common light: blue light. Blue light can be found in all sorts of household everyday devices. From laptops to computers, and from cell phones to LCD screens, we interact with blue light almost every day of our lives. 

What is Blue Light?

Blue light is a short wavelength of 460 nm and is in one class of the spectrum of electromagnetic radiation known as visible light. Electromagnetic radiation can be subdivided into classes depending on their wavelength. Visible light is one of those classes along with radio waves, microwaves, infrared, UV, X-rays, and gamma radiation.[1] Visible light can be defined as the wavelengths of 400-700 nm and is the portion of electromagnetic radiation that can be seen by the human eye. 

Negative Effects of Blue Light

Blue light is known to induce wrinkles, age spots, and worsen skin discoloration. A 2017 study examined the effects of several colored light radiations (blue, red, white, green) on adult human skin cells. The skin cells were exposed to irregular, mild, and intense light using blue, green, red, and white light for 1-180 minutes.[2] In human skin, blue light can deplete the skin of its protective antioxidants.[3] Blue light can also affect the health of skin. For example, visible light (that includes blue, red, and green light) stimulated the skin to develop the dark spots of melasma to a greater degree than UV light.[4] 

How Do We Protect Ourselves from Blue Light?

Fortunately, there are several ways to protect ourselves from blue light. One way is to wear protective sunscreen with iron oxide. A study conducted on patients with melasma that assessed the efficacy of sunscreen with broad UV protection indicated that sunscreen with iron oxide showed greater protection from the effects of blue light.[5] 

Another simple way to modify your lifestyle for protection from blue light is to turn on “Night Mode” or its equivalent on your computers, laptops, and phones. Common devices now have the option to turn off the blue light and can schedule times to turn on and off the function. By turning on this feature, the screen turns to a warmer color, making your technology use safe for not only your eyes and sleep cycles but your skin as well. 

Table 1. Devices That Emit Blue Light and LED Light.

Blue Light

Most Commonly

Used Device

TV

76.6%

Computers

52%

Laptops

57.8%

Smart Phones

69.4%

Tablets/E-readers

42.5%

 

* This Website is for general skin beauty, wellness, and health information only. This Website is not to be used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any health condition or problem. The information provided on this Website should never be used to disregard, delay, or refuse treatment or advice from a physician or a qualified health provider.

References

  1. Schieke SM, Schroeder P, Krutmann J. Cutaneous effects of infrared radiation: from clinical observations to molecular response mechanisms. Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed.2003;19(5):228-234; PMID: 14535893 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14535893.
  2. Bennet D, Viswanath B, Kim S, et al. An ultra-sensitive biophysical risk assessment of light effect on skin cells. Oncotarget.2017;8(29):47861-47875; PMID: 28599308 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28599308.
  3. Vandersee S, Beyer M, Lademann J, et al. Blue-violet light irradiation dose dependently decreases carotenoids in human skin, which indicates the generation of free radicals. Oxid Med Cell Longev.2015;2015:579675; PMID: 25741404 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25741404.
  4. Mahmoud BH, Ruvolo E, Hexsel CL, et al. Impact of long-wavelength UVA and visible light on melanocompetent skin. J Invest Dermatol.2010;130(8):2092-2097; PMID: 20410914 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20410914.
  5. Castanedo-Cazares JP, Hernandez-Blanco D, Carlos-Ortega B, et al. Near-visible light and UV photoprotection in the treatment of melasma: a double-blind randomized trial. Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed.2014;30(1):35-42; PMID: 24313385 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24313385.