Between phones, computers, TVs and other devices, the average adult spends about 8.5 hours a day looking at screens, according to Health Partners. Not only does too much screen time affect your sleep schedule, but it may also lead to inactivity, health problems and issues with your skin.
While some screen time is avoidable – do you really need to binge eight episodes of Netflix in a row? – other screen time, like the hours you spend working on your computer, is not. Unfortunately, screens give off blue light, and this blue light might have a negative impact on your skin.
However, no matter what your situation is, there are steps you can take to protect your skin and ensure it’s going to be healthy and radiant. Here’s the lowdown on blue light, what you can do to safeguard your skin from it and what products can help protect you from screen time.
What Is Blue Light?
Blue light is short-wavelength and high-energy light that we are exposed to mostly through the sun. But more often, people are talking about artificial sources of blue light, which can come from compact fluorescent light bulbs, fluorescent lights, flat-screen LED televisions, smartphones, tablet screens and computer monitors, according to UC Davis. Blue light can make you feel more alert and improve your mood, memory and cognitive function. On the flip side, if you expose yourself to artificial blue light right before bedtime, it can disrupt your sleep pattern because it impacts when your body creates melatonin. It also contributes to eye strain and could possibly lead to skin problems.
Typically, it’s a good idea to turn off your screens an hour before bedtime. If you do need to go on screens at night, then download a blue light filter app. You can keep your eyes moist if you remember to blink when looking at screens, and you can also protect your eyes with blue light glasses. For every 20 minutes you spend looking at a screen, look away at something that is 20 feet away from you for a total of 20 seconds so that you aren’t straining your eyes too much.
Blue Light and Aging, How Does Blue Light Affect Your Skin?
While more research is needed, some studies suggest that blue light can cause similar damage as UV rays. A 2018 medical study suggests that blue light from electronic devices can lead to changes in your skin like cell shrinkage, which quickens the aging process and can cause skin laxity and wrinkles. Other research suggests blue light could also cause pigmentation as well as swelling and redness. Since blue light can affect your sleep schedule, it could also disturb your skin cells’ circadian rhythms and disrupt your skin’s regenerative cycle.
Finally, research suggests that blue light wavelengths promote free radicals, which are rogue electrons that can cause premature signs of aging. Oxygen atoms can become free radicals which creates oxidative stress in the body—a negative reaction that takes oxygen away from skin cells. Young skin can efficiently process enough oxygen from the environment, but as we age, skin becomes less efficient at maintaining and using oxygen for repairs and reproduction of new cells. This means that when skin cells experience oxidative stress, it can lead to premature aging, fine lines and wrinkles.
While UVA and UVB light waves are known to produce free radicals, the concept of the glow of a phone or a computer damaging your skin is less known.
Blue Light Blocking Skincare
While some brands have come out with blue-light skincare, the efficacy of these products is still unknown. Because of the free radicals produced by blue light, you likely don’t need any products with technology-focused marketing campaigns. Your best bet for blue light blocking skincare is a combination of antioxidants UV protection.
Antioxidant skincare benefits the skin by preventing oxidative stress. Without getting too deep into a chemistry lesson, antioxidants give up some of their electrons to stabilize free radicals. If a free radical has enough electrons, it isn’t going to try to take them from oxygen atoms. You can introduce antioxidants through serums and moisturizers that contain ingredients like vitamin C, vitamin E, niacinamide and vitamin A.
On the UV protection side, SPF products that contain ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide also provide some cover from High Energy Visible Light (HEV).
Maintaining Healthy Skin With Biopelle
Biopelle creates dermatologist-recommended skincare for a wide variety of skin concerns, many of which are formulated with antioxidants as main ingredients. Some antioxidant powerhouses that may help with blue light exposure include:
Biopelle Tensage Daily Serum ($136) This serum, ideal for all skin types including sensitive skin, contains antioxidants such as niacinamide, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E, as well as moisturizing ingredients such as snail secretion filtrate and squalane. It can be used both morning and night.
Tensage Antioxidant Defense Serum ($125) This oil-free serum is packed with 10% Vitamin C, ferulic acid and deschampsia antarctica leaf extract, a powerful and newly discovered antioxidant for pollution defense.
Biopelle Tensage Advanced Cream Moisturizer ($81.50) This moisturizer, which can be used morning or night, includes vitamin E, snail secretion filtrate, and the antioxidant-rich botanical meadowfoam seed oil.