Dermatologists say it could cause wrinkles, loss of collagen, and changes in pigmentation.

By Kelly Vaughan
April 30, 2020
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It's no secret that we should all be spending less time on our phones than we do. From affecting our sleeping patterns to causing headaches, most Americans understand that blue light rays emitted from our devices can be detrimental to our overall health. Experts now say that, in addition to those known issues, blue light from computer and phone screens may also cause certain types of skin damage. Blue light is the highest energy wavelength in the visible light spectrum, and though it is in its strongest form from the sun, the version that comes from electronic screens means we're interacting with it on a daily basis.

woman working on computer
Credit: Getty / Yuri_Arcurs

While experts don't believe that blue light can cause sun damage or skin cancer in the way that UV rays can, it's still strong. "Blue light causes a slightly different type of damage. It causes generation of reactive oxygen species which damages collagen, causes wrinkling, pigment changes, and laxity," Michele Farber, a dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group, told the Huffington Post. According to cosmetic dermatologist Kenneth Mark, blue light may "increase signs of aging, such as hyperpigmentation, collagen breakdown, redness, inflammation, swelling/edema, and oxidative stress in the form of free radicals."

Some studies have suggested that blue light could increase the risk for macular degeneration or blindness, but experts at Harvard Medical School disputed that claim. "Compared to the risk from aging, smoking, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and being overweight, exposure to typical levels of blue light from consumer electronics is negligible in terms of increased risk of macular degeneration or blindness," says David Ramsey, MD, Ph.D., MPH.

To combat the effects of blue light, dermatologists recommend wearing sunscreen or vitamin C serum each day, even indoors. "Sunscreens with tint can add another layer of protection because they typically contain iron oxides that cover the blue light spectrum," Farber tells the Huffington Post. Try Supergoop! Glowscreen with SPF 40 ($36, sephora.com), which is a hydrating makeup primer that offers blue-light protection or Tatcha's Violet-C Brightening Serum ($88, tatcha.com).

It's not all bad news, though. While blue light can be problematic for our skin, experts say it also has the ability to boost attention, reaction times, and our mood for the better.

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