Blue Light From Your Phone and Computer May Be Aging Your Skin – Leading Dermatologists Reveal How To Prevent The Damage
If you spend any amount of time looking at a screen (and who doesn’t?), read this.
At this point, especially as we continue to conduct work-related calls and meetings over Zoom, spending a considerable amount of time in front of a screen is almost unavoidable. That said, the blue light that those screens emit can impact everything from your sleep quality to your skin’s cells.
To find out exactly what blue light is, how we’re exposed to it and what we can do to combat its negative side effects, we tapped Dr. Josh Zeichner and Dr. Kavita Mariwalla, both board-certified dermatologists, to get some advice.
What Exactly Is Blue Light?
Blue light is everywhere. We’re exposed to it every single day through natural light outdoors. The problem is we’re now being exposed to it more than ever thanks to the blue light emitted from computers, mobile phone screens and other home devices. Little friendly reminder here – we’re likely staring into these things well into the wee hours of the night.
“The reason this is such a hot button now is that so many people have been working from home for extended periods of time and our electronic devices emit more blue light than you would otherwise be exposed to,” says Mariwalla. “The screens themselves project this wavelength, so it’s happening while sitting in front of a computer or texting away on a mobile phone.”
How Does Blue Light Affect The Skin?
So, here’s some more not-so-good news: in addition to disrupting your sleep cycle (studies indicate it can affect the circadian rhythm, meaning poor sleep quality), blue light can actually impact your skin as well. “Blue light weakens skin’s collagen causing a dull, washed-out appearance and contributes to issues like hyperpigmentation,” adds Mariwalla. Enough said.
In addition to collagen loss, Zeichner explains that “blue light has also been shown to lead to premature aging and the development of dark spots.” Fortunately, the right products and protocols can help.
Say Hello To Sunscreen and Antioxidants
Fortunately, the solution is something you should already be using every single day and it’s a skincare holy grail: Sunscreen.
“To protect your skin from blue light, I recommend applying a broad-spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen,” said Mariwalla. “If you are staring at a screen all day, you can also purchase blue light glasses to help protect your eyes or better yet, a simple blue light shield to place on your screen or phone.” Since blue light rays aren’t as strong as the sun, Mariwalla does say that applying sunscreen as the last step in your morning skincare routine will keep you safe while indoors.
And, if you’re going out in the actual sun — you must reapply sunscreen periodically throughout the day. Regardless, “sunscreen is the best way to protect your skin from blue light and it’s particularly important if you suffer from melasma or other types of pigmentation,” notes Mariwalla.
In addition to sunscreen, Zeichner notes that antioxidants are effective as well. “Be sure to apply them to your face every morning,” he adds. “Vitamin C helps neutralize the free radicals caused by blue light exposure.” He recommends RoC Retinol Revive and Glow Daily Serum with 10% vitamin C complex.
If you’ll be staying indoors and getting doused with a high dose of screen time, Ilia Beauty has launched a new blue light filter face mist, that aims to keep the skin protected all day long. Filled with marine actives to hydrate the skin, mastic to leave the skin feeling smooth and Tara extract which is said to neutralize free radicals, if nothing else, misting is a refreshing, anytime pick-me-up.
Keep Your Distance and Take Breaks
Let’s not forget, blue light affects other areas of the body as well, including the eyes, and can contribute to glaucoma, cataracts and eye strain. Just as it’s wise to stand up and stretch your body while remaining seated and working in front of a computer throughout the day, doctors recommend maintaining 12 inches between you and your screens to help prevent blue light damage. Mariwalla also suggests adjusting the brightness on your mobile phone to a lower level, along with using the speaker mode whenever possible.
Better yet… practice the art of the digital detox. And make it a frequent habit.