At the moment, the buzz on blue light revolves around its relation to certain devices, like smart phones and computer screens, which lead to eye strain when used for long periods of time. What has been mentioned less frequently is blue light’s ability to regulate sleep patterns and treat acne. Blue light is even responsible for the sky’s blue color! So, it can’t be all bad, right? Well, there’s bad news and good news.
Is blue light bad?
The bad news is blue light–especially the shorter, high energy wavelengths–causes photo-aging in skin, which leads to discoloration, inflammation and other forms of skin damage. Long-term exposure to these rays also raises concerns when it comes to eye health. Most people have felt the effects of digital eye strain at some point, but there’s also evidence to suggest blue light may even lead to vision loss later in life. To make matters worse, blue light is even more difficult to escape than UV rays. Since blue rays are emitted by the sun and screens alike, you’ll likely be exposed to it at some point regardless of your lifestyle.
Here’s the good news: while you might not be able to run from blue light, you can certainly protect yourself from it! Here are a few helpful hints for besting the bad blue light in your life.
1. Use blue light filters and glasses to protect eyes.
When it comes to eye health, there are a number of ways to prevent digital strain and vision loss. Many of the latest devices include a blue light filter feature, allowing you to adjust your screen display accordingly. As for TV and computer screens, blue light glasses are the way to go. These specialized lenses block out bad blue light–no prescription required! This makes them the perfect companion for binge watching your favorite show or a day at the office.
2. Add an antioxidant treatment that protects against blue light.
As concerns about blue light have increased, a few skin care brands have stepped up to the task of protecting skin from this new threat. One such brand is SkinMedica in the form of the LUMIVIVE System. This day and night duo of daily skin defenders prevents premature aging at the hands of blue light and other environmental stressors like pollution. Exclusive to SkinMedica, their innovative ENVAILLE technology combines Theobroma cacao seed extract, Alteramonas ferment extract and bioflavonoids to improve skin repair and provide essential blue light protection.
3. Upgrade to a sunscreen that includes blue light protection.
While it’s important to use a sunscreen with UVA/UVB protection, many sun protection products leave skin vulnerable to harmful blue light rays. However, the Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Face Shield SPF 50 PA+++ goes the extra mile to defend against photo-aging. This all-mineral sunscreen backs up its claim of providing “total protection” by blocking out skin-damaging UV rays, pollution, blue light and infrared radiation with proprietary EnviroScreen Technology. As if that wasn’t enough, it also provides a universal tint, which means no unsightly white cast!
What are the benefits of blue light?
When left unchecked for long periods of time, blue light may be harmful, but it also provides a number of health benefits when used correctly. Here’s how you can use blue light to improve your skin and overall well-being.
1. A blue light box can help those with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Feeling blue? Ironically, blue light boxes are known for their ability to combat the symptoms of SAD. Usually occurring in the fall and winter months, SAD occurs as the seasons change, causing fatigue, demotivation and overall depression. While it may not be a cure-all, light therapy has proven to be an effective supplement to psychotherapy and medication when treating SAD. If you consistently experience a significant change in mood or motivation each fall, consider speaking with your physician to see if a blue light box is a suitable treatment for your concerns.
2. Treat acne and prevent breakouts with blue light devices.
If you have acne-prone skin, blue light treatments can keep acne-causing bacteria at bay to prevent blemishes and blackheads alike!
The Tria Positively Clear Acne Clearing Blue Light device is another excellent tool for staving off breakouts. This easy-to-use device can be used anywhere breakouts occur, making it ideal for diminishing blemishes that appear on the body or the face. Tria’s blue light eliminates acne-causing bacteria at the source by penetrating the skin’s layers and purifying pores.
While blue light treatments have proven effective for improving mild to moderate breakouts, they are not the best option for those with severe acne. We checked in with LovelySkin CEO and board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Joel Schlessinger, on how to get the most out of blue light acne devices:
" For patients with acne, blue light devices make great adjuncts to any regimen. There are individuals who aren’t good candidates for either antibiotics for acne or other treatments, and this provides a natural alternative. For best results, these tools should be used in conjunction with a complete skin care regimen. Gentle concentrations of glycolic and salicylic acid in combination with blue light therapy can provide reasonable results. As far as severe acne is concerned, it’s best to contact your dermatologist, so they can develop an effective treatment plan that is right for you. On the down side, blue light is now being implicated with negative issues in relation to computer screen and phone exposure. While it may seem premature, many individuals are moving toward topical blue light ‘blockers’ to prevent issues. The jury is still out, though."
3. Timing is everything when it comes to blue light.
Blue light plays a big role in regulating sleep patterns and our natural circadian rhythms. Having a sound internal clock is essential in order for our bodies to function properly and perform daily tasks! While basking in the sun for long periods of time is never recommended, short-term exposure to blue light in the morning improves mood and alertness. In the evening, blue light exposure actually works against the body. Avoid screens as much as possible 2-3 hours before bed to prevent restlessness and allow the body to repair itself. If you like to read a few chapters at night, try switching to physical copies of books or use a blue light filter on your tablet.
Did you know blue light isn’t the only form of light with therapeutic benefits? Learn more about the benefits of blue, green and red light therapy on our blog!