Ever skincare ingredient used in a product has a purpose and the latest ones are being used to target “digital aging.” This is when skin damage is caused by a high energy visible light (known as blue light) from our phones and computer screens. This blue light is penetrating deep into the skin, making the skin age faster.
For your at-home daily skin routine, you should be using certain skincare ingredients to prevent this blue light damage caused by your phone. In this post, I’ll discuss the effects of blue light on the skin and share skincare ingredients to use that can make a big difference.
What is blue light?
Blue light, a high-energy visible light (HEV), refers to light wavelengths between 390 and 500 nm that get emitted from phones, computer screens and LED lights. Blue light penetrates farther into the skin than both UVA and UVB sunlight and uses a higher level of energy than IR (infrared) light. This may result in even more damage to the skin—despite never even feeling a thing. (Yikes!)
Blue light irradiation negatively affects all skin layers.
It impacts the skin in the following ways:
- induce oxidative stress, via both reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive nitrogen species (RNS) leading to damaged proteins and lipids. Blue light does not seem to create reactive carbonyl species (RCS).
- contribute to photo-aging and glycation of the skin
- weaken the epidermal barrier and delays barrier recovery
- disrupt melanocyte activity, leading to uneven and excessive pigmentation
(To make matters worse, blue light is also known to disrupt sleep cycles and cause premature aging of the eyes.)
The best skincare ingredients to prevent blue light damage from your phone are antioxidants.
To lessen the damage caused by blue light, you’ll want to use skincare ingredients in your products that use both direct and indirect antioxidants. What are antioxidants? They are members of a complicated biological system that defend the body against increased production of free radicals caused from blue light as well as from the air we breathe (oxygen), cigarette smoke, UV sunlight, stress, and smog.
Some of the best direct and indirect antioxidants to use in your skincare products include:
- gogi fruit
- noni fruit
- white tea
- green tea
- black tea
- elderberry fruit
- vitamin C (see the proof that it really improves the skin)
- vitamin E
- retinol (vitamin A)
- cranberry seed oil
- grape seed
- superoxide dismutase
- niacinamide (vitamin B3)
- coenzyme Q10
- raspberry seed oil
- sea buckthorn
It’s important to understand the complexity of our skin cell’s antioxidant protection needs. Using just one antioxidant simply cannot control the many forms of ROS and RNS given off from blue light. A variety of antioxidants are needed in your skincare products. These should complement each other’s actions to ensure that as many free radical families as possible are neutralized. This is essential for a comprehensive skincare strategy, especially one that is focused on preventing the signs of aging.
Antioxidants should be used both morning and night.
The main stressors that create free radical damage were always thought to be caused during daytime hours by sun and pollution. (This is why you’ve been using a vitamin C serum under your sunscreen in the morning.) Thanks to new research, we now realize that the skin’s natural antioxidant supply gets depleted during the day and needs to be replenished at night. Additionally, with the way many people are looking at their phone screens well into the wee hours, this means antioxidants should be included in a nighttime skin routine.
Shield your skin from blue light with a screen protector.
Consider getting a special filter to lay on the screen of your phone to filter out many of the blue light rays. I have one on my own phone. It’s an easy, low-cost way to prevent premature skin aging.
Wear liquid foundation makeup.
Not only does foundation (even if it doesn’t indicate it has sunscreen) provide protection from the sun but new research shows wearing makeup helps protect against blue light, too. This is from iron oxides used in most foundation makeups. Ingredients to look for are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. If your skin is prone to clogged pores, see my list of the best liquid foundations.
Eat a diet rich in antioxidants.
The following foods will fuel your body from the inside out.
- sweet potatoes
- citrus fruits
In summary, technology is intended to make our lives easier, but it can have side effects on the skin. Mobile devices have brought us “tech neck” which are the horizontal folds across the neck from looking down at our phones. Laptop computers created “toasted skin syndrome” which is a burning reaction that results in discoloration of the skin from the heat of a computer resting on the thighs. Now, blue light is given off from tech devices, screens and LED lamps and is damaging the skin. With the right skincare ingredients, you can keep the damage under control. Hope you found this post helpful! If you want to learn more about caring for your skin, read 10 skincare rules I swear by.
Celebrity Esthetician & Skincare Expert
As an esthetician trained in cosmetic chemistry, Renée Rouleau has spent 30 years researching skin, educating her audience, and building an award-winning line of products. Trusted by celebrities, editors, bloggers, and skincare obsessives around the globe, her vast real-world knowledge and constant research are why Marie Claire calls her “the most passionate skin practitioner we know.”