The effects of blue screen light on our skin

More and more people are becoming aware of the damage that UVA and UVB rays can cause to the skin and are taking effective steps to protect themselves from them.

Now, experts are warning us about the risk posed by unprotected exposure to another type of radiation, known as visible light. This has also been shown to be detrimental to skin health. Visible light is nothing more than the small portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that the human eye can detect. It is usually associated with sunlight, whose harmful effects on the skin are well known. However, it is not as well known that household light bulbs or the screens of electronic devices such as smartphones, televisions, computers, or tablets also produce visible light. Forty percent of the visible light emitted by these devices is blue light.

Blue light can penetrate the skin and cause damage to the deepest layers of the skin. Given the number of hours that most people spend in front of computer screens, it is important to be aware of the effects of blue light and its impact on skin health.

The screens are emitting blue light in a more intense way and the exposures are getting longer and longer. A warning to consider in the current pandemic situation we’re living in, where exposure to cell phones, computers and tablets has skyrocketed due to telecommuting, online meetings, and classes… Everything is much more virtual.

Although the light we receive from mobile devices is much less energetic and does not affect us in the same way, it all adds up. Its rays are able to penetrate the skin deeper than UV rays and can damage epithelial cells, causing the following effects:

Dehydration: Blue light can cause a decrease in aquaporins, molecules responsible for maintaining skin hydration. This reduces the skin’s ability to retain water, accelerating premature aging.

Wrinkles in the skin: The effects of blue light promote the uncontrolled and disorganization of enzymes known as metalloproteinases, thus destroying the extracellular matrix. This results in the degradation of collagen and elastin, causing a loss of firmness and elasticity and favoring the appearance of wrinkles in the skin.

Skin spots: Exposure to blue light for many hours stimulates the activation of melanocytes. This increases the amount of melanin in the skin, promoting hyperpigmentation. 

Premature skin aging: Blue light stimulates the formation of free radicals. These radicals damage the extracellular matrix. The result is a loss of skin firmness and the appearance of wrinkles. In addition, blue light can alter the structure of fibroblasts. Fibroblasts are responsible for stimulating the collagen that keeps skin firm and radiant. The stress caused by blue light on cells can last up to 48 hours after exposure.

Fatigue: Prolonged use of devices causes insomnia due to the overstimulation of the brain from light throughout the day. Lack of rest leads to dehydration and decreased collagen synthesis, resulting in loss of luminosity and firmness.

Screens are necessary for work, communication, information, and entertainment. However, it is advisable to protect oneself from the blue light that they emit and to reduce the exposure to this type of radiation as much as possible. It is important to use products that protect your skin, just as it is advisable to use a filter on your screen to limit the blue light emitted by your computer or mobile phone.

You can control your exposure to blue light in the following ways:

  • Move the LED light source away from your face:
    • Use a hands-free mobile phone.
    • Move your computer screen as far away from your face as possible.
  • Use the night mode of the mobile screen, which emits less light than the normal mode.
  • Use sunscreen with visible light filters, even indoors, if you cannot reduce exposure to blue light. We have a very strong sense that we need to protect our skin when we are going to be exposed to the sun. But we don’t have the same attitude when we’re in front of a computer.
  • Moisturizing products with formulas rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, ferulic acid or vitamin E, which can fight free radicals, should be part of your daily skin care routine.