Is blue light from your phone damaging your skin?

Updated: Apr 26

By Jennifer Ide, R.BIE, CNP

During the pandemic, we are spending a lot more time in front of our screens. Science has already shown that blue light from electronics can have damaging effects on your eyes. Is it possible that your skin is being negatively affected too?

What is blue light?

Blue light is a high-energy, short-wave light on the visible light spectrum (this is different from UV rays like UVA and UVB). One of the main sources of blue light that we are exposed to is the sun. At lower doses, smartphones, computers, tablets and other digital devices also emit blue light.

Is the amount of blue light coming from electronic screens enough to cause damage to your skin? It’s not exactly known, but it doesn’t look too good.

What science and doctors are saying?

Studies provide evidence to show that blue light can have the following effects on your skin (1, 2, 3, 4):

  1. Increase the formation of brown spots

  2. Cause hyperpigmentation like melasma

  3. Increase premature aging and wrinkles

  4. Increase levels of inflammation and redness in the skin

When it comes to blue light coming from electronic devices specifically, a 2018 study showed when human skin cells were exposed to light emitted from electronics, even for as little as 1 hour, there was an increase in reactive oxygen species (5). These are molecules that can cause damage to collagen and DNA within skin cells. Bye, bye collagen means hello winkles!

Also, anecdotal observations from dermatologists include seeing hyperpigmentation of melasma on the side of the face where the person holds their phone (6).

6 easy ways you can protect your skin from potential damage

The great news is that there are many ways to protect your skin from the potential damage that blue light exposure may have. Some of them include:

  1. Downloading a blue light filter app onto your device

  2. Buying screen protectors that block blue light

  3. Lowering the brightness of your screens as much as possible without causing eye strain

  4. Considering reading hardcopies rather than using e-readers

  5. Replacing pastimes that involve screen use with ones that don’t

  6. Wearing a tinted sunscreen that contains iron oxide (this ingredient acts to block blue light)

What’s Next?

If you want to learn more about how you can improve your skin health, consider booking a free Meet-and-Greet with Jennifer Ide, our BIE Practitioner and Holistic Nutritionist (She is based in Toronto, Ontario) by clicking here. She loves talking about skin and helping her clients love the skin that they’re in!

References

  1. Dong, K. et al. (2019). Blue light disrupts the circadian rhythm and create damage in skin cells. International Journal of Cosmetic Science. 41, 558-562.

  2. Mahmoud, B. H. et al. (2010). Impact of Long-Wavelength UVA and Visible Light on Melanocompetent Skin. Journal of Investigative Dermatology. 130, 2092-2097.

  3. Campiche, R. et al. (2020). Pigmentation effects of blue light irradiation on skin and how to protect against them. International Journal of Cosmetic Science. 42, 399–406.

  4. Vandersee, S. et al. (2015). Blue-Violet Light Irradiation Dose Dependently Decreases Carotenoids in Human Skin, Which Indicates the Generation of Free Radicals. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity. 2015, 579675.

  5. Austin, E. et al. (2018). Electronic device generated light increases reactive oxygen species in human fibroblasts. Lasers in Surgery and Medicine. doi: 10.1002/lsm.22794.

  6. Allure. (2020). How Your Phone’s Blue Light Could Be Damaging Your Skin, According to Dermatologists. https://www.allure.com/story/blue-light-phone-skin-effects. (accessed February 1, 2021).

Disclaimer

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