The SPF Debate: Protecting Your Skin Against Blue Light

Research suggests blue light emitted from smartphones and computer screens can damage the skin. It is crazy to think that checking social media or writing a term paper could harm you, but it can.

It seems like every day there is something else that leads people to distrust technology. Still, despite the hoopla, research suggests blue light is not as scary as some make it out to be. Yet, it is still advised that you take necessary precautions to limit your exposure to blue light.

The Dangers of Blue Light 

Like the sun, blue light emits high-energy visible light, but it is not as dangerous. Long-term and unprotected exposure to the sun can cause DNA damage and cancer. You will not fight the same threats sitting in front of your computer screen.

Still, while smartphone or laptop use isn't life-threatening, it is harmful. The HEV light can generate reactive oxygen species — compounds that damage the cellular structure. The compounds hinder collagen production, affecting elasticity in the skin. Long-term exposure to blue light can lead to wrinkling and pigment changes in the skin.

The good news, no current research points to blue light causing skin cancer. Still, the pervasive light can cause harm, including:

  • Collagen breakdown 
  • Hyperpigmentation 
  • Premature aging 
  • Inflammation 
  • Redness 
  • Swelling or Edema 
  • Oxidative stress

Additionally, blue light affects sleep-wake cycles. Sleep interruptions can interfere with hormone production, causing skin problems. Still, more research is necessary to determine the full extent of blue light risks.

The Benefits of Blue Light

Despite the proposed risks of blue light, it does have its benefits. Medical researchers now use controlled blue light to reduce the chances of skin cancer. Controlled blue light can have positive effects. It can boost your energy levels, decrease inflammation, and reduce bacteria.

Uncontrolled blue light is where risks live. Light therapy maintains wavelengths of 415 nanometers — the proven wavelength for benefits. Sitting in front of a screen is not the same as therapeutic light, so you can't claim phone time as therapy (darn).

Protection From Blue Light 

Protection against blue light is essential. Thankfully, you do not have to spend a lot of money to protect against the HEV light. Many computers and portable devices have blue light filtration options. Additionally, you can find several apps to protect your skin and eyes. Physical products, such as blue light glasses and screen protectors, are also available.

Still, for complete skin protection, dermatologists recommend using a blue-light-blocking sunscreen. You may want to find an SPF product with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide because each is reflective. It is also possible to find newer products with beneficial antioxidants and vitamins.

People might discount the need for sunscreen indoors, but indoor environments are changing. The addition of electronic HEV-producing devices demands extra protection and concern. While indoor blue light is not as intense as environmental wavelengths, it can still harm the skin.

Researchers continue to learn new things about blue light every day. Still, what seems to become clearer is the need for added protection. While you may not be ready for indoor SPF, at least consider downloading an app.

Just How Bad Is Blue Light for Your Eyes?

Until recently, the only factor that affected which LED light bulb I chose revolved around my home décor. Warmer, yellow-colored light feels relaxing while cool blue light seems more energizing. But now, some eye doctors are warning people about health dangers from blue light. Can the type of light you choose really hurt your eyes?

About Blue Light

Most people would tell you that blue light is “artificial” and yellow light is “natural.” But that’s not really true. Actually, the biggest source of blue light is the sun!

If you remember your science classes from high school, normal sunlight is white. When white light passes through a prism, It splits into a rainbow of colors, or wavelengths. This ranges from ultraviolet (UV) rays to infrared. Blue light is the next step up from UV rays.

Common Places You Can Find Blue Light in the Home

There’s more blue light in your home and workplace than you may think:

  • Laptop screens and computer monitors

  • LED TVs

  • Smartphones

  • Tablets

  • Compact fluorescent or LED lights

The Dangers of Blue Light

Because blue light is so close to UV light on the color spectrum, some scientists wonder if it can damage your eyes. Here are some potential effects that make health experts nervous:

  • Eyestrain

  • Dry eyes

  • Blurry vision

  • Cataracts

  • Macular degeneration (damage to the retina)

Blue light is powerful and very bright, especially up close. The retina doesn’t have a way to shield itself from this wavelength, so intense exposure can lead to permanent vision problems.

Time To Get Rid of Blue Light?

After reading this, you’re probably wondering if you should toss out your high-definition TV or stop using your tablet to read books. Do you need to buy one of those expensive screen filters for blue light? The truth is that you have nothing to worry about.

But wait, didn’t I just say that blue light is dangerous for your eyes? Yes, but only with a powerful light source.

The maximum brightness from electronic gadgets isn’t nearly enough to hurt your retina. Staring at a laptop all day can dry your eyes or cause eye strain, but these are temporary conditions that go away with a little rest.

You should be careful with industrial blue lights, however. These include military-grade flashlights, flood lights, tanning beds, blue lights used for psoriasis treatment and other high-power LEDs.

Benefits of Blue Light

In fact, normal blue light has benefits for your mood and health. Some bright light can help you feel alert in the morning and give you more energy. It can boost your memory and concentration. That’s one reason why I like to go for a short walk if I’m having trouble focusing. Most people feel happier with some daylight shining into the home.

Tips To Protect Your Eye Health

If you're worried about the effect of blue light on your eyes, there are two things you can do. First, give your eyes a rest periodically. Every 20 minutes, take your eyes off the computer screen and grab a glass of water, hug your kids or water your plants. Second, make sure you're getting antioxidants for eye health, such as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E and omega-3s. These nutrients help protect your eyes.