BLUE LIGHT 101: What You Need to Know

January 10, 2020

If you’re reading this, you’re currently exposed to blue light. 

The year is 2020, and with every digital screen emitting blue light, coming in contact with it is practically unavoidable. On average, we spend 12 hours a day sitting in front of screens and check our phones roughly 150 times a day, posing the obvious question: What is blue light, and how bad is it really? Here, we break down everything you need to know about blue light, and how to protect yourself from it. 

What is blue light, exactly?

Blue light is a high-frequency, high-energy light in the violet/blue band of the visible light spectrum that is emitted from all electronic devices with screens — meaning, your phone, computer, TV, tablet, and even your smart watch. 

So, why should I care?

On average, we’re in front of screens for about 12 hours a day, and if you do the math, that’s about half our lives. Not unlike your daily Costar notification (which, honestly, sometimes makes us feel attacked), it’s something we’re exposed to at a constant and uncontrolled rate. While advances in technology have improved our lives in countless ways, all the blue light radiating from our screens can put serious strain on our skin and eyes, bringing to light (pun intended) concerns that didn’t exist 20 years ago. 

How does blue light emitted from screens impact my skin?

Blue light can actually penetrate down to the third layers of your skin, whereas UVA/UVB rays from the sun only impact the first and second layer. Factor in the almost-constant exposure to blue light, and the risk of dullness, discoloration, more pronounced fine lines and wrinkles, age spots, and generally tired-looking skin is significantly increased. “Visible light, especially in the blue wavelength, has become a hot topic in skin care, as there is mounting evidence that supports its contribution to photo-aging, including wrinkles, worsening skin laxity, and hyperpigmentation,” Dr. Shari Marchbein tells Allure. “Dermatologists have good evidence to show that visible light triggers certain skin conditions, such as melasma, where the skin is stimulated to produce more pigment, There's also evidence that as blue light penetrates the skin, reactive oxygen species are generated, which leads to DNA damage, thereby causing inflammation and the breakdown of healthy collagen and elastin, as well as hyperpigmentation.” Even something as chill as sitting on the couch binging Mad Men for the eighth time in a row (hey, no judgement) exposes your skin to blue light, thanks to the screen on which you’re streaming, so it’s important to protect your skin even during downtime. 

Wait, does this mean that the blue light in an LED facial is bad?

In short, no. The blue light used in an LED facial is emitted at a different wavelength from the blue light coming from your screens, which impacts your skin differently. Within the range of 400 to 450 nm for a controlled amount of time, it has been shown to help skin issues like acne, psoriasis, and eczema. On the other hand, blue light emitted from your phone and computer falls under the category of HEV (or, high-energy visible) light, which is a completely different frequency that puts more strain on your eyes and skin. Similar to the person who keeps popping up in your story views despite ghosting you, exposure to HEV light via our phones and computers is uncontrolled and almost constant, which is why it has a different effect from a phototherapy treatment.  

How can I protect myself from blue light?

Going off the grid is an option, albeit not a very realistic one. While limiting screen time is a pretty tall order, seeking out products designed to filter out and neutralize the impact of artificial blue light is a great starting point. All of GoodHabit’s products are infused with our proprietary BLU5 technology, which defends your skin against blue light in five different ways. 

  • Neutralizes the effects of blue light, shielding skin from future damage
  • Creates youthful-looking skin, helping to smooth over fine lines and wrinkles
  • Brightens skin tone, preventing and fading hyperpigmentation
  • Improves texture and helps maintain a firm, supple appearance
  • Helps maintain a healthy glow by protecting skin from oxidative stress

Blue light is a new threat that only continues to grow and evolve as technology itself does, and just like the urge to get on Tik Tok (or any other brand new form of social media), we can stay ahead of the curve by taking preventative measures to protect our complexion against it. Sure, blue light wasn’t a widespread threat 20 years ago, but then again, neither was catching your ex’s new S.O. creeping on your profile (we saw our photo you liked from two years ago, and friend, it is okay). Next time you consider upgrading your smartphone, take a look at your skincare lineup and give it a reboot, too.