March 17, 2022
Blue light protection, and really blue light in general, has become quite the buzzy topic lately. What does it all mean? How does blue light differ from UV light? Let’s break it down and understand if, why, and how we need to protect our skin from its effects.
By: Kristin Gaskins, NP
Blue light is visible light with wavelengths between 400 to 500nm. Blue light comes from sunlight, but also from LEDs, digital screens and fluorescent lighting. In comparison, UV light is invisible and has shorter wavelengths. Exposure to both types of light is inevitable.
There can be harmful and beneficial effects on the skin from blue light depending on intensity and wavelength. Because blue light has longer wavelengths compared to UV light, it is able to penetrate to deeper layers in the skin. This can cause pigment issues including worsening melasma and age spots. It can also cause DNA damage to skin cells and cause cellular dysfunction. In addition to the damaging effects, it also depletes our skin’s natural antioxidant levels which normally serve to protect the skin. After exposure, it can take up to 24 hours to restore these natural antioxidant supplies. Lastly, blue light has been shown to break down collagen and prevent formation of new collagen.
Lower-energy wavelengths of blue light have been shown to have some beneficial effects on the skin. This includes treating eczema, psoriasis, acne causing bacteria, and even photorejuvenation. Typically when treating these conditions, exposure is for a short period of time, around 15-25 minutes per session a few times per week until the condition has resolved. If you have ever had a Broadband Light treatment (BBL), we are able to use blue light in 420nm wavelength to go after acne causing bacteria on the skin’s surface. In the office, we also use a Light Stim device that has both blue and red light wavelengths. The blue light helps go after acne causing bacteria, while the red light helps calm inflammation and provides antiaging benefits. Light Stim sessions can be done on their own, but are also included in our Wet Diamond and Platinum Hydrafacials.
When considering the sources of blue light exposure, studies have found that the sun emits the most blue light by far. So while we may be exposed through our day-to-day use of technology screen time, the sun is still the most dangerous form of exposure.
Now it is important to discuss what products can help protect our skin from the damaging affects of blue light. First and foremost, sunscreen. Just as with UV light, using a physical sunscreen, such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, can also provide protection against visible light such as blue light. Studies have found that these types of ingredients have been show to protect against blue light and prevent photoaging. SkinBetter’s sun protection line has been studied and clinically proven to protect against blue light.
In addition to sunscreen, antioxidants and vitamins can help protect our skin. These include: niacinamide (vitamin B3), vitamin C, vitamin E, carotenoids and beta-carotene. As mentioned above, blue light exposure depletes the natural antioxidants in the skin. We can use topical forms of these protects to provide extra protection against photoaging and cellular damage. These also provided added benefits of lightening pigment and supporting collagen synthesis. Some of our most popular antioxidant products in the office include SkinBetter’s Alto Defense as well as Solo.
Ultimately, we do need to be concerned about blue light; however, not from our daily screen time exposure, but rather from the sun. Just as with UV exposure, we should be protecting our skin daily with an effective antioxidant, as well as a physical sunscreen.
If you’re worried about damage to your own skin, whether it be UV or blue light, and want to sit down with one of our skincare providers—schedule a complimentary consultation with us! We’ll sit down, assess any superficial and deep damage with our VISIA Facial Analysis, and work together to get your skin to where you want it to be.
You can also give us a call at (513)-791-9474 ext. 2 to schedule or with any questions. We’re here to help!