In the recent past, with the awareness of the damaging effects of different wavelengths of light, anti-pollution skincare and blue light protection are becoming popular in the beauty sphere. Today, with more and more people connected to digital devices than ever before, rising pollution rates, and a hectic urban lifestyle, there is no wonder we are entering the era of anti-pollution skincare.
What Is Blue Light? Blue Light Basics
We are exposed to blue light daily. The sunlight is the main source of blue light which accounts for 25% of the sun’s rays. In addition, there are many other sources. People often associate blue light with LED lights and fluorescent lights such as those found in computers, smartphones & tabs, and flat-screen TVs.
On the electromagnetic spectrum, blue light sits within both harmful and harmless wavelengths ranging from 350nm to 500nm. It is the short but high-energy visible (HEV) waves on the light spectrum which means that we are at risk of harmful exposure on the lower wavelengths, but near the 500nm range, there are some positive benefits, especially for acne-prone skin types.
Blue Light: The Darker Side
We already knew blue light was awful for our sleep because it interrupts our natural circadian rhythm. Science-backed research also suggests that blue light generates free radicals that cause oxidative stress in the skin, contributing to early signs of skin ageing. Blue light can penetrate deeper to the skin’s outermost layer-dermis, where our collagen and elastin are located, and destroy these structural proteins. The collagen degeneration results in loss of firmness and increased visible lines & wrinkles. Blue light also leads to inflammation contributing to photo-ageing of the skin and an overall weakening of its barrier functions. Moreover, hyperpigmentation can be induced due to blue light damage, especially in darker skin tones.
How Is Blue Light Damage Different From Sun Damage?
Exposure to Ulta Violet (UV) is long known to age our skin prematurely. UV damages cells’ DNA directly, but blue light destroys collagen through oxidative stress.
According to some science-backed data, blue light can be more harmful. A small, peer-reviewed study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology (2010) found that exposing skin to blue light can cause more pigment, redness, and swelling than when exposed to comparable levels of UVA rays.
How To Protect Your Skin From Blue Light Damage?
Covering your phones and computers with a blue light shield or using a “night mode” setting are cheap and easy fixes to reduce blue light pollutants.
When it comes to protection from skincare, slathering skin with broad-spectrum sunscreen and skin applying a ‘smart shield’ packed with botanicals is the next level.
What Are The Best Topical Skin Care Products & Ingredients To Deal With Blue Light Damage?
Blue light protection skincare works by physically blocking the light and fending off free radicals formed by blue light before they can cause damage such as age spots, collagen breakdown, and sagging on your skin.
If you are wearing a physical (aka mineral) sunscreen (SPF 30 or above) that contains Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide, you are ahead of protecting your skin from blue light damage. These ingredients are physical barriers that help protect skin against blue light as well as UV. Or, if you apply tinted sunscreen, it can double the effect literally. The study published by the Journal of Drugs and Dermatology (2020) revealed that iron oxides provide more protection against blue-light-induced pigmentation than mineral sunscreens do.
Experts advise using Vitamin C, Niacinamide Coenzyme Q, Resorcinol, and vitamin E products. Also, botanicals brimming with antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and emollients with shielding properties are expected to benefit the complete protection. These include green tea polyphenols, butterfly ginger, cocoa, and algae extracts.