At this point, just about everyone has a phone, computer, or TV screen shining in their faces at least once per day — and our skin may be feeling the negative effects of it. Blue light from our cell phones and laptops may be disrupting some of the work you’ve put into caring for your skin, and stealing the shine from those skin-care products you finally got around to trying. Awareness of blue light is important, but with the best blue light skin-care products, the negative effects of it are also preventable.
Protecting skin from damaging light — UV rays from the sun being number one — should always be a top priority. A life of daily Zoom calls and doom-scrolling now also requires consideration of blue light, also known as High Energy Visible Light (HEV), according to Julie Karen, MD a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. It’s present in visible sunlight and in illumination from our screens. “I do think there is a place for blue-light protection within skin-care routines, especially if you spend a lot of time in front of digital devices,” Loretta Ciraldo, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Miami, previously told Allure. Kenneth Howe, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, adds that the wavelength of blue light is a little bit shorter in wavelength than ultraviolet light (UV), the latter being notorious for causing skin cancer and skin aging. “We’re all just used to blue light because we see it constantly,” he says. “Its sheer familiarity makes it seem harmless.”
Howe says that, unlike UV light, blue light is not known to cause skin cancer, but there is research to indicate that it potentially contributes to skin aging. “It does this by generating reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the skin,” says Dr. Howe. “These ROS, or free radicals, in turn, cause oxidative damage within the skin.” The antidote is antioxidants, which protect the skin by “quenching” or neutralizing these ROS before they can do their damage. In contrast, and for some context, UV light from the sun harms skin both through the generation of free radicals and by directly damaging the skin’s DNA, Dr. Howe further explains.