Do You Really Need to Worry About the Effects of Blue Light on Your Skin?

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If healthy, glowing skin is your goal, then you know that prolonged sun exposure is the enemy, thanks to the damaging effects of UV light. But what about blue light? Do you need to worry about that having unpleasant effects on your skin too?

According to recent research, blue light — like that emitted from your many devices — can trigger reactions in the skin that can lead to signs of aging and hyperpigmentation. That’s not what you want to hear when you’re planning to be cooped up in front of screens for the foreseeable future, so we asked experts for their take on what blue light might be doing to your skin and how to stay protected.

What exactly is blue light?

When we’re talking about the damaging effects of light on skin, we’re usually talking about ultraviolet light, specifically UVB and UVA rays. These occupy wavelengths of light that we can’t see. Specifically, UVB exists between 280 and 315 nanometers (nm) while UVA exists between 315 and 400 nm, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Can blue light really cause wrinkles and hyperpigmentation?

Unfortunately, this isn’t an easy question to answer. So far, most of the research that’s been done in this area has been in lab studies looking at skin cells or samples, Jenny Hu, an associate professor of dermatology (clinician educator) at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, tells SELF. In some cases, there are studies in humans, but they’re generally smaller.

What we do know is that, under certain conditions, blue light exposure may have an effect on skin. For instance, in a 2006 study published in Photochemistry and Photobiology, researchers looked at how different types of light could impact skin. They exposed skin samples (from white subjects only) to light in wavelengths below and above 400 nm, simulating UV light and visible light, respectively. It’s important to note that the intensity of light in this study was meant to replicate the sun, not devices.

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