blue light

TCM Classic — This story on the effects of blue light exposure originally ran in 2016, but it feels more important than ever so we decided to bring it back!

We’ve got good news and we’ve got bad news: all the effort we’ve invested into protecting our skin from the sun is 100% necessary – but if you spend any time in front of a screen, those SPFs and sunspot serums might not be enough. The high-energy “blue light” emitted from LED-lit tech doesn’t burn the way too much time under the sun does, but new research shows that it can cause the same kind of damage. Does this mean every time we embark on an email spree, indulge in some digital retail therapy or binge-watch the latest buzz show, we’re subjecting our skin to premature aging? Obviously, we needed to find out.

Repairing current damage can be as simple as investing in a powerful serum, like these natural options. But as most of us can’t even imagine an analog life, never mind live one, what’s a complexion-conscious girl to do in the long run? Before panicking (we’ve already gone there and back), know that this issue is already popping up on the radars of natural beauty brands that take skincare as seriously as we do. MAKE Beauty has created one of the first blue light protective primers, that both shields our skin from screen damage and helps it become healthier in front of it.

We caught up with MAKE’s Creative Director, Ariana Mouyiaris, to find out more about the invisible enemy that inspired their revolutionary product and what we need to know to protect ourselves from it. We’re sharing some key learnings to take note of below…

On Blue Light Exposure

Blue light exposure is a relatively new threat to our skin. Given contemporary lifestyles, this is a light that we are exposed to all the time while working or watching Netflix at night. This light, which also exists in natural sunlight, has been shown to penetrate deeper into lower levels of the skin than even UV rays, what we have been educated to wear sunscreen to protect ourselves against for decades. Without getting too sciencey, blue and ultraviolet light have a much shorter reach than other types of light, but much more power a.k.a more of an ability to alter our skin. While the sun emits these kinds of light in addition to more therapeutic ones (infrared is amazing in controlled doses), the exposure from our technology is much closer to our skin and more frequently encountered un-protected than what comes from the sun.

Common Sources of Blue Light

Sunlight is the main source of this kind of light, but there are also many man-made, indoor sources of blue light, including fluorescent and LED lighting, flat-screen televisions, computer screens, smartphones and tablets. The amount of blue light these devices emit is only a fraction of that emitted by the sun, but the number of time people spend using these devices and the proximity of these screens to the user’s face have many doctors and other health care professionals concerned about possible long-term effects of blue light on our eyes and skin.

The Problem With Blue Light

In comparison to sun exposure, blue light exposure tends to be greater because of the amount of time we spend with our devices. Consistent, unprotected exposure to this light (as with UV light) can cause pre-aging of the skin through ongoing cellular inflammation, ultimately changing structural proteins in the skin. These rays are also shown to be responsible for the generation of 50% of the Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) generated in the skin as a result of exposure. These free radicals cause oxidative damage to the skin, the primary contributor to premature aging. While too much UV exposure from the sun will cause a burn, we don’t get the same warning from blue light alone and don’t think to protect ourselves in the same way.

How To Protect Yourself

Reducing the amount of time we spend in front of screens is the most obvious, but also the most “unrealistic” solution to saving our skin from blue light over-load. The more sustainable answer is to amp up our awareness of the potential harm and upgrade the measures we take to protect ourselves:

Tweak Your Screen. We love Tech Armor’s screen shields for our phones and tablets. If you don’t want to stick something on your screen, there are free apps to download (like f.lux) that will gradually, and automatically, shift the light of your screen from blue to orange.

Prime Your Skin. We’re all about the first of it’s kind protective primer by MAKE mentioned earlier. This innovative serum protects skin from the damaging effects of blue light light emitted by electronic devices such as iPads and laptops. It’s enriched with marine algae to fight against free radicals, while mattifying skin and diminishing the appearance of pores and wrinkles. It is tinted black, but the color disappears once applied.

Shield Your Eyes. Blue light-blocking glasses are another highly-effective, and surprisingly stylish, way to protect yourself — check out our favorites here.

Have you heard of this issue before? We were shocked! Tell us about your experience with sun
and blue light exposure and what you’ve found in the comments below…

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  1. Thank you so much for shedding light (no pun intended) on this issue! I recently read an article (source unremembered at the moment, sorry!) whose headline was along the lines of “Are your selfies aging your skin?” which brought up the effects of having the screens in front of our faces constantly, although I don’t think the article was as research-based as yours. Previously my concern about blue light exposure was mostly due to it’s reputation for disrupting sleep/melatonin production. Add this to the radar!

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