How your phone’s blue light emissions are damaging your skin

Models on their phones

We’re sorry to be the bearer of bad news

Beauty Crew Beauty Writer / January 19 2018

We’re all well aware of the damage UV rays have on our skin – from premature ageing to increased pigmentation and of course, the scary and all too common reality of developing skin cancers. However, until recently we’ve been relatively in the dark when it comes to understanding the impact other forms of light can have on our skin.

One of those other light forms causing damage is blue light, which falls in the middle of the light spectrum between UV rays from the sun and infrared rays from heat. To find out more about blue light, from what it is to how it impacts the skin, we spoke to National Training Manager for Alpha-H, Meghan Horn.

What is blue light?

According to Horn, “blue light, sometimes called high energy visible (HEV) light, makes up the blue portion of visible light in the electromagnetic spectrum.”

Not only does it carry similar potential to cause free radical damage as UV rays, it also penetrates deeper into the skin, meaning the majority of sunscreens are not able to block its effects. In fact, only full white zinc oxide (think Shane Warne’s lips on the cricket pitch) are able to block blue light – which while effective isn’t the most practical SPF for daily life.

How we’re exposed to it

“Blue light is most commonly emitted through screens. It is the light from smartphones and computer screens that we are chronically exposed to on a daily basis,” explains Horn. Thus, making it incredibly difficult to avoid.

How blue light impacts skin

As blue light doesn’t cause DNA mutations in the same way the sun does, it will thankfully not increase your chance of developing skin cancers. However, “blue light induces skin matrix degrading enzymes, which damage collagen fibres and decrease collagen production. It also increases pigmentary marks by stimulating tyrosine and the production of melanin, as well as oxidising epidermal lipids in the skin, which result in free radical damage,” says Horn.

Essentially, hyperpigmentation is increased and your skin loses elasticity, leaving it looking uneven and dull. We know – not exactly what you wanted to hear while you’re inevitably reading this article off a screen. 

The best ways to avoid blue light damage

While it’s hard to reduce your exposure to screens that emit blue light in this day and age, let alone avoid them altogether, there are a few ways to reduce the skin damage it causes.

Certain products can help protect your skin against blue light effects. Alpha-H has developed the Daily Essential Vitamin Mist, which works to shield skin against the effects of blue light by preventing the absorption of toxic metals, urban grimes and micro-particles.  

Additionally, applying antioxidants daily “is the best way to protect your skin from any sort of free radical or oxidative damage. Retinols (applied in the evening only) and collagen boosting peptides will also assist in correcting the damage caused by blue light,” explains Horn. If you’re looking to boost your skin’s defences, we suggest incorporating Mesoestetic AOX Ferulic Serum and Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil into your skin care routine.

Alpha-H Daily Essential Vitamin Mist

Mesoestetic aox Ferulix

Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil

One last thing! If you own an iPhone, you can activate the ‘night mode,’ which uses a yellow filter to limit your phones’ blue light emission.

Unfortunately, we have more bad skin care news. Australian women are ageing faster than anyone in the world and there’s a good chance you already know why.

How do you try and limit your exposure to blue light? Do you have any sneaky tips to reduce screen time without disrupting your daily life? Let us know in the comments below.

Image credit: Getty

Kate started working for BEAUTYcrew in early 2016, first as a contributor, and was then named Beauty Writer in 2017. She loves picking the brains of the industry's top experts to get to the bottom of beauty's toughest questions. Bronze eyeshadow palettes are her weakness and she's forever on the hunt for the perfect nude nail polish to suit her fair skin. Her words can also be found in Men's Health magazine, and she now works in PR.