Blue light fine lines wrinkles

Could your phone be prematurely ageing you? Blue light can make wrinkles and fine lines worse

8th April 2024 | Author: Abigail Beall

We’re regularly told that looking at screens is bad for us but did you know the blue light from phone, tablet or laptop screens could also be causing your skin to age faster? 


We’re regularly told that looking at screens is bad for us. Bad for our eyes. Bad for our sleeping habits. But did you know the blue light from phone, tablet or laptop screens could also be causing your skin to age faster?

For thousands of years, we lived a lifestyle where we were exposed to natural light during the day, which would gradually fade to darkness before it was time to sleep. Now, we spend less time outdoors during the day, and expose ourselves to light right up until it’s time to go to bed.

This causes all sorts of disruptions to our body clock and functions. The most well-known being the fact that blue light disrupts our sleep.

READ NEXT: How old does your skin REALLY look? Olay Skin Advisor scans your face to reveal if you’re prematurely ageing


What is blue light?

Our body’s natural circadian rhythm is intrinsically linked to the light we are exposed to. But not all wavelengths of light affect us equally. Studies have shown blue wavelengths, which boost mood, reduce reaction times and increase our attention spans, are the most disruptive at night.

In particular, the light suppresses the production of melatonin, a hormone usually produced when darkness falls and which helps our bodies realise it’s time to go to sleep. In fact, a study by Harvard found blue light suppresses melatonin production for twice as long as green light.


How does blue light cause premature ageing?

The impact of blue light on skin has not been studied as extensively as its impact on our sleeping habits but there is an increasing body of research that shows blue light can speed up the ageing process of skin. And it works through a process called oxidative stress.

Oxidative stress is caused when there is an imbalance between free radicals – molecules containing oxygen with an uneven number of electrons – and antioxidants, molecules with additional electrons they donate to stabilise the free radicals. When there are too many free radicals, oxidative stress occurs.

Free radicals are good, to an extent, because they help fight off pathogens, which lead to disease. However, if they’re left unchecked, for example if there aren’t enough antioxidants, they can start to damage the body’s protein, DNA and fatty tissues. You can read more about this in our guide to the best foods for skin.

This can lead to diseases including diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Plus oxidative stress can cause ageing when it happens in the skin cells.

A study published in 2018 by researchers at the Shiraz University of Medical Sciences in Iran, looked into the impact of light from screens on premature ageing.

“Recent studies aimed at investigating the effect of exposure to light emitted from electronic device on human skin cells, show that even short exposures can increase the generation of reactive oxygen species,” the authors wrote. Even being exposed for as little as one hour started to damage skin cells, the paper explains.

Elsewhere, research from King’s College London found that blue light can “tan” the skin. Of course it doesn’t tan it in the way the sun does, but the mechanism is similar and blue light can cause pigmentation and activate genes associated with inflammation and photoageing. At the same time, several studies (here and here) have shown that regular sunscreens do not prevent damage.

Because of its short wavelengths blue light can also penetrate deep into our skin. This means it reaches the dermis layer, where our collagen and elastin exists. These are proteins which give skin its flexibility and elasticity and when the cells that produce them are damaged, through oxidative stress, skin starts to sag and become wrinkly.


Are there any benefits to blue light?

Blue light has been shown to help with eczema and other skin conditions and it’s used in photodynamic therapy, which is a treatment for various problems like acne, cancer and wound healing.

However, blue light is used in this way in controlled settings by experts so it doesn’t mean you can try to cure your eczema using blue light at home.


How to stop blue light damaging your skin

So what can you do to prevent the damage from blue light?

“To limit early skin ageing due to blue light, I would recommend decreasing the brightness of your device and moving to further away as this will reduce the intensity and proximity that blue light has on your skin,” Dhruvin Patel, a specialist in the impact of blue light told mamabella.

“You can also use a blue light screen protector, which goes directly onto the screen,” says Patel. Patel is the founder of Ocushield, which sells screen protectors that can be applied directly to your phone, tablet or computer or worn as glasses.

“This filters out the harmful blue light so you can enjoy watching Netflix or uploading a picture to IG without worrying about your skin.”

Beyond protectors, there is a huge range of products available on the market to help you manage your blue light exposure.


Blue light SPFs

Coola Full Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30

£44 | BUY NOW

This Coola UV cream is SPF 30, but it doubles up as blue light protection. It also protects from infrared and it’s oil-free.

BUY NOW

Murad City Skin Age Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 50

£60 | BUY NOW

For anyone looking for a higher SPF with blue light protection, this could be the product for you. It also helps colour correct the tone of your skin, making it perfect as a last step in your skincare routine before makeup.

BUY NOW

Blue light serums

Dr. Barbara Sturm Anti-Pollution Drops 

£110 | BUY NOW

At £110 for 30ml, this serum is not cheap. In fact, it’s borderline extortionate but Dr Barbara Sturm’s anti-pollution drops claim to protect from UV, free radicals and blue light, while also moisturising the skin.

BUY NOW

Blue light shields

Ocushield Anti blue light screen protector

£24.99 | Buy now from Ocushield

If you want to combat the light at its source, you can buy screens for your devices. The company also sells glasses with blue light filters in the lenses, which won’t stop the damage to your skin but will help your circadian rhythm.

Buy now from Occushield

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