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 first ran this story on blue light exposure in 2016. Back then it was something of a revelation to most of us, now the health and wellness industry is in full swing on blue light blocking products and some of them are actually quite useful.
With all the effort we’ve invested into protecting our skin from the sun, we owe it to ourselves to protect our skin (as well as our eyes) from too much artificial light. 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 from too much “junk light” 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.
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.
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
wear blue-blocking glasses. Blue light-blocking glasses are another highly-effective, and surprisingly stylish, way to protect yourself — you can find a list of our favorites here, thanks for Chrissy Teigen. We’ve also just discovered Look Optic who has smart and modern frames that come with a blue-blocking lens option.
Tweak Your Screen settings. One thing you can do to reduce your blue light exposure is adjust your display settings. On Macs, you can turn on ‘Night Shift’ mode whenever you like. Just remember to turn it off if you’re working on important visuals as your colors won’t show true.
Tech Armor also makes screen shields for phones and tablets. Finally, 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 throughout the day!
Prime Your Skin. We’re all about the first of it’s kind protective primer by MAKE. This innovative serum uses algae to protect skin from the damaging effects of blue light light emitted by electronic devices like your phone and laptop. The marine algae enriched formula fights free radicals, while also mattifying skin and diminishing the appearance of pores and wrinkles.
Chantecaille also now makes a light-weight Blue Light Protection Hyaluronic Serum designed to fight the photo-aging effects of blue light tech.
Reduce screen time. Obviously, reducing the amount of time spent in front of screens is an important part of reducing blue light, but also the most “unrealistic” solution to saving our skin from over-load. Most experts agree that weaning yourself off of blue light in the evening before bed can provide a positive impact on your ability to get a good night’s rest if you struggle with falling asleep.