We Know Blue Light Messes With Our Internal Clocks, But What Can It Do to Our Skin?

If you go down the skincare aisle of any health and beauty store, you'll be confronted with a dizzying selection of creams and sprays that claim to protect your skin against various hazards.

You may have seen advertisements for skincare products that claim to shield you from the harmful effects of blue light. You'd be excused for wondering if you should be concerned about blue light if you hadn't considered it previously.

To begin, you must first comprehend what blue light is.

Visible light makes up half of the sunlight spectrum and is the only component of light that can be seen with the naked eye, as the name implies. The visible spectrum's blue band has a relatively high energy level.

The less energy transmitted by a wavelength, the longer it is. The waves of blue light are quite short and have a lot of energy.

You are surrounded by blue light. Blue light is emitted by the sun. Fluorescent and incandescent light bulbs, cell phones, computer displays, and flat-screen televisions all contribute to the pollution problem.

What are the risks?

Blue light has been shown to be detrimental to the skin and eyes, as well as disrupting the circadian cycle (your internal clock). UV radiation, particularly UVB, which causes sunburn, has traditionally been the focus of research into the effects of solar radiation on the skin.

A large increase in reactive oxygen species (ROS), highly reactive molecules produced from oxygen, is the most commonly documented impact of blue light exposure. Too much ROS can harm your DNA and critical enzymes including those involved in DNA repair, raising your cancer risk.

According to our findings, blue light can cause pigmentation (tanning) in people of all skin types. While many people think of a deep tan as a desirable attribute, it is really a sign of skin damage and reactive oxygen species (ROS). Other studies discovered that skin tans caused by visible light (which includes blue light) had darker pigmentation and lasted longer than those caused by UV radiation.

Blue light has also been shown to activate genes linked to inflammation and photoaging in our research (skin damage). A number of studies have shown that traditional sunscreens do not protect against blue and visible light damage.

While blue light appears to be less effective than UV radiation, this might be due to the fact that blue light reaches the Earth in greater quantities. At noon in the summer, UVR accounts for around 5% of solar radiation in the UK. Blue light accounts for around three times as much (15%).

Blue light has a number of positive impacts. It has been used to treat skin problems such as eczema, and it is frequently utilized in photodynamic therapy, which is used to treat a variety of skin conditions ranging from acne to cancer. It also helps with wound healing. However, for healthy people, blue light's negative effects are likely to exceed its benefits.

Blue light can hurt the skin, although it's unclear which blue light sources are detrimental to people. Blue light from displays accounts for only a small portion of our blue light exposure. Screens from gadgets have been proven in studies to boost ROS generation.

However, a research by German skincare company Biersdorf discovered that one minute of noon summer sun in Hamburg, Germany, is comparable to a whole week of exposure to blue light from a screen at a distance of 30cm.

Blue light from screens was found to be 100–1,000 times less powerful than blue light from the sun in another study. It also failed to create melasma, a skin disorder that causes spots of discolouration.

While we do spend more time in front of devices than ever before, the harm caused by screens pales in comparison to the harm caused by sun exposure.

Blue light skincare

The cosmetics industry has begun to produce a variety of skincare products that promise to protect against blue light harm. However, there is no defined or controlled test for determining a product's capacity to protect against blue light harm.

These items are subjected to scientific testing by companies. They can, however, employ as many assessments as they like in their job. This is in stark contrast to sunscreen standards that claim to have a Sun Protection Factor (SPF). The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) oversees SPF testing (ISO). Every product that claims to have an SPF goes through the same testing process.

Because blue light claims are not regulated, consumers are unable to make educated decisions regarding the amount of protection provided and the variations between goods.

Consumers are unlikely to be harmed as a result of the absence of regulation, although the items' benefits may be restricted.

Given the data around blue light emitted by displays, any claims that a device is required to avoid damage from your computer screen or phone should be treated with caution.

Blue light damage is often not protected by traditional photoprotection solutions (such as sunscreens). It's good to see the skincare business attempting to meet this need. Governments must, however, take the next step in the process and provide uniform testing for the whole sector.

In the meanwhile, it's critical to remember to avoid excessive sun exposure. Sunscreens (or any product with an SPF rating) have been shown to prevent skin cancer and photoaging, and those that claim to block blue light may provide an added advantage.