Blue Light: A Consumer's Point of View

Why is the sky blue? I truly didn’t know the answer to this question until recently (or at least didn’t retain the answer from my childhood).  There’s a show on Netflix called “Ask the StoryBots” where a group of robots travel around the universe discovering the answers to questions posed by children. It was through this children’s educational program that I learned that light is actually composed of a rainbow of colors. Each color has a unique wavelength that bounces off different objects, so this means the sky is blue because the blue light waves emitted by the sun are the ones that can bounce off of the particles in the sky.They are one of the shortest and most energetic light waves on the spectrum.

What does this have to do with beauty and skincare? The same blue light that fills the sky is the same wavelength as the blue light emitted from our mobile devices, computer monitors, and TVs. As research continues to study the effects of technology on the human body, it is suggested the blue light acts like UVA radiation and may be causing photo-aging, dehydration, and inflammation to the skin and these devices give the modern human concentrated exposure every day.

Who did I first learn about blue light? While listening to the podcast Fat Mascara, I learned from Dr. Howard Murad of Murad Skincare, one of the show’s guests, that technology is aging us just as direct sunlight ages us; not as quickly, but nonetheless it is. I looked up his blog and saw he actually wrote a post on the topic, saying that, “The sun emits significantly more blue light than our favorite technology, but the amount of time we spend in close range to electronic devices is taking this exposure (and its associated risks) to new heights.” This topic was also recently discussed by Paula Begoun of Paula’s Choice where she too discusses the topic on the company’s YouTube channeland on the company’s blog. After learning this and seeing other IGers post content on the topic, I knew I needed to be more diligent in protecting my body from blue light.

How can I protect myself? The number one thing you can do is wear a sunscreen that protects you from both UVA and UVB rays! According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, an SPF rating on a sunscreen only tells the consumer how much protection the sunscreen provides against UVB rays (aka the tanning/burning rays), and does not inform the consumer of any UVA (aka the aging rays) protection. When choosing a sunscreen look for the phrase “Broad Spectrum” in American formulas or a “PA Rating” in Asian sunscreens (these are the two UVA labels I’m currently aware of. If you know others, please feel free to tell me in the comments! I’m always trying to learn more).

One sunscreen I am currently testing and enjoying is the Murad City Skin Age Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 50 PA+++ is a mineral sunscreen that has been tested to specifically protect against blue light and pollution on top of sunlight. This is a milky sunscreen that is also incredibly moisturizing, but I’ve only had pilling with one moisturizer, so keep that in mind if you use a lot of silicone heavy products and don’t have time to wait for your products to set.

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If you’re not interested in spending your hard-earned money on the above (totally understandable), another product that I’ve been enjoying and that is very versatile is NIOD Survival 0. This product is, “a broad selection of advanced technologies to target the effects of oxygen radicals including the superoxide radical, nitrogen radicals, carbonyl radicals, glycation and advanced glycation end-products (AGE), pollution, smog, stress, infrared and blue light.” I use this primarily at night mixed in with my moisturizer to act as a UV protector while I’m on my phone all night, but I also will use this mixed in with my morning moisturizer to buff up my sunscreen.

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Also remember that all the antioxidants you are slathering on each and everyday form a barrier of protection, allowing light to oxidize your mist or serum in place of your skin. This is why they say antioxidants work so well with sunscreen. I love the NIOD SDSM2 in particular for its ease of application and stability, but honestly, any antioxidant mist or serum paired with any UVA/UVB sunscreen that you enjoy are going to be your best weapons because you'll use them consistently.

An even easier and immediate way to protect yourself is keep your phone on Night Mode. It’s know that blue light can also mess with our sleep patterns which is why mobile phone companies give you the option to switch to Night Mode. What this does is it changes the background light from blue to yellow, which is a longer wavelength and doesn’t have the same effect on the human body as blue light. So unless I’m editing photos, I keep my phone on Night Mode. I also have changed the color and brightness settings on my work monitors to a yellow light since I spend so much time in front of them. You can also purchase blue light screen protectors.

With everything in life there is yin and yang. Instead of being scared into wearing sunscreen and changing the color settings on my tech gadgets, I feel empowered knowing that these small changes can make a difference. As someone who’s eyesight has deteriorated over the years due to extensive computer use (relevant, but a whole different story), I can only imagine how my skin has been impacted as well. While the blue filter on my glasses can protect my eyes, my sunscreen and antioxidants work to protect my skin going forward.

If you’re looking for more information on blue light or ultraviolet light in general, I encourage you to check out the hyperlinks I’ve included in this post. This post is a consumer’s point of view, and as a consumer I only can speak on the topic with a superficial understanding, but this topic has been one I’ve been so interested in and wanted to share some of my findings with others. Until next time, I’ll be #workingonmyglow