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Are Screens Bad for Your Skin?

Woman working at a laptop

The short answer is yes. Research shows that the blue light emitted from our electronic devices (mainly smartphones, tablets, and computers) may damage the skin. 

Blue light, also known as high-energy visible light (HEV), is one of the seven visible lights and sits adjacent to UV on the light spectrum (the sun emits both UV and HEV light). While blue light can help inspire productivity and boost your mood just like sunlight does, research has shown that it stimulates the production of free radicals. Free radicals break down collagen and elastin, resulting in fine lines, wrinkles, sagging skin, and hyperpigmentation. Blue light can also disrupt sleep by limiting the body’s melatonin levels, and cause vision damage.

Does your daily sunscreen protect your skin from blue light damage? The answer is only if you wear mineral (or physical) sunscreen. Chemical sunscreens do not protect you from blue light. To learn more about the difference, check out our blog What are the Pros and Cons of Chemical and Physical Sunscreens?

Some companies make sunscreens specifically to protect your skin from blue light or mitigate its effects. To find out whether yours does, check to see if it contains the following ingredients: 

  1. Iron Oxides: while most often used to add pigment to cosmetics and skincare, iron oxides have the added benefit of protecting the skin from visible and blue light.
  2. Zinc Oxide: a common sunscreen ingredient known for its broad-spectrum protection, the combination of zinc oxide with iron oxides improves blue light protection.
  3. Antioxidants: Ingredients like Vitamin E and green tea extract help neutralize free radicals generated by blue light exposure, alleviating premature aging and skin damage.

In addition to sunscreen, you can also try:

  • Wearing blue light glasses to protect your eyes and the sensitive skin surrounding them
  • Applying a blue-light-blocking shield to your computer, phone, and tablet screens
  • Changing your device settings (such as activating “night mode”) 

For more information on blue light and its effects on the skin, check out these sources:

  1. National Library of Medicine - Iron oxides in novel skin care formulations attenuate blue light for enhanced protection against skin damage - PMC
  2. American Academy of Dermatology - Blue light from electronic devices: What you need to know 
  3. Skin Cancer Foundation - Can Blue Light from Screens Damage Your Skin? 
  4. Mayo Clinic - What is blue light and how does it affect the skin? 
  5. ColoreScience - Blue Light Sunscreen: Sunscreen with blue light protection
  6. CNN - How blue light can damage our skin, according to dermatologists
  7. BYRDIE - Iron Oxides Are the Ultimate Skin Protectors—Derms Explain Why

 Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplash