Escaping The Laptop: Does Blue Light Really Harm Skin

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Escaping The Laptop: Does Blue Light Really Harm Skin
Escaping The Laptop: Does Blue Light Really Harm Skin
Video: Escaping The Laptop: Does Blue Light Really Harm Skin
Video: What Blue Light Actually Does To Your Body (and what you can do about it) 2023, February

Dry air, hard water, ultraviolet radiation, soap - the list of things that make life difficult for the skin, frankly, is rather big. Recently, however, they started talking about the fact that the blue light from the screens of smartphones and computers also affects her destructively. Is it really worth worrying about a new misfortune? Understanding what blue light is and whether it can threaten skin well-being.

Text: Flu Petrova


What is blue light

Visible light is the range of electromagnetic radiation that the human eye perceives. We no longer see what is next to this range on the spectrum scale (infrared light on the one hand and ultraviolet light on the other): our vision only catches waves of 380-700 nanometers. In this not very long interval, all the colors of the rainbow are laid, and all together they give what we perceive as white light. When a sunbeam hits my grandmother's crystal chandelier in the spring, it crumbles into iridescent reflections - this is the visible spectrum.

The wavelength of blue light is 380–500 nm (technically, these are blue and violet light, but more often they are combined). Light has two more characteristics: frequency and energy. Blue light has the shortest wavelength visible, so it has the highest frequency - that is, a point on the wavelength passes a fixed control point the most times in a second. The energy of blue light is also the highest, therefore it is also called HEV-light, from "high energy visible" - high-energy blue light. HEV light makes the sky blue, it is in the light of monitors of smartphones and tablets, LED TVs and LEDs - and also publications and brands vying with each other claim that it harms the skin.

Visible blue light in the range turns into ultraviolet. It is to protect against it that we use Sanskrins: we say "sun" - we hear "ultraviolet". In this case, on the spectrum scale, the border between ultraviolet and visible light lies where the light visible to the eye ends. Until recently, no one tried or even thought to associate the position on this scale with the degree of influence on the skin.

How blue light affects the skin

There is blue light wherever there is visible light. When we discuss the dangers of blue light, we cannot only talk about smartphones and laptops: the sun and electricity also emit it. In a sense, the blue light of gadgets harms any skin: it suppresses the production of melatonin, which means it knocks off the circadian rhythm - as a result, a person does not get enough sleep and does not feel well, and therefore cannot boast of freshness.

Until recently, photodermatological research was mainly focused on the ultraviolet region of the spectrum, not the visible one. There are not so many studies of the effect of HEV light on the skin of the face - and those that exist emphasize that the topic of the effect of blue light on the skin is poorly understood. It is difficult to rely on the research of companies interested in making a profit from the sale of cosmetics. For example, a 2013 study commissioned by the cosmetics company Lipo Chemicals argued that HEV light is as damaging as UVA and UVB (blue light with different wavelengths), and even worse: according to According to their data, it penetrates the skin deeper than invisible ultraviolet light.

Grab enough

for hyperpigmentation, the dose from the blue screen is difficult

In 2014, researchers compared the ability of blue visible light (with a wavelength of 415 nm) to induce pigmentation with the same properties of red light (wavelength 630 nm) as well as mixed variants. Control skin areas were irradiated with UVB rays or not irradiated at all. The study showed that on skin types III and IV - that is, relatively dark, sun-prone and olive - exposure to blue light does lead to pigmentation, and type IV skin suffers more.

The pigmentation that appeared under the influence of blue light, even after three months, was brighter than the pigmentation in the control area, which was irradiated with ultraviolet light. True, according to the results of the study, the destruction of keratinocytes, which form the protective barrier of the skin, and the p53 protein (which is an anti-oncogene) in the area that was irradiated

UVB rays were still more intense. In general, according to the conclusions of the scientists, hyperpigmentation under the influence of blue light has a slightly different nature than hyperpigmentation of the UV-character: since DNA is not damaged, p53 is also not activated.

A 2015 study shows that visible blue light degrades carotenoids in the skin in much the same way as UV and infrared rays. The breakdown of carotenoids is indirectly associated with the formation of free radicals: in theory, carotenoids are the first of the antioxidants that protect the skin from them. In high doses, visible blue light can be detrimental to the skin, the scientists conclude.


Is there a point in special cosmetics

In the end, there is only one conclusion: if you take a lot of blue light, it obviously can arrange for relatively dark skin a temporary hyperpigmentation without long-term consequences. The scale of the problem depends on how much light you need to take. The author of the Lab Muffin blog and chemical scientist Michel compares the doses used in experiments with visible blue light with the light of the sun and the light of screens. Let's make a reservation that the numbers are, of course, very arbitrary: the amount of blue light from the sun depends on the time of year and the place where you are. The information on the screens is also not entirely accurate.

Michelle notes that in experiments, skin types III and IV produced hyperpigmentation at a dose of light energy with a blue tint of 40 joules per square centimeter. The same dose of visible light can be obtained in 13.3 minutes during the summer in Texas. Or blue for 40 minutes in Southern Europe on a summer afternoon.

Now let's take the iMac. At a distance of 60 cm from it, studying the text on a white background, you will receive 40 J / cm² in 1.28 days. At the same time, the iMac's screen is one of the brightest. So, to get the same dose of blue light from the Dell XPS 13 screen, you have to sit behind it for 3.43 days. From the screen of a Samsung Galaxy S7 smartphone at a distance of 23 cm at 40% brightness, the required dose of "killer" blue can be obtained in six and a half days. Hence the conclusion: it is difficult to grab a dose sufficient for hyperpigmentation from the blue screen.

The same blue light and ultraviolet light are part of phototherapy that treats skin conditions.

It turns out that all we can do is read more often from paper, not from a tablet, and not flip through the feed of friends if there is nothing interesting there. And we can slightly support our skin with cosmetics, especially if it belongs to type III or IV. According to one study, zinc oxide protects against HEV light poorly, despite the fact that it is a physical filter - it all depends on the size of the particles in the composition. But the colors of the visible spectrum are successfully absorbed by iron oxide. In the composition of cosmetics, it can be listed not only as "iron oxide", "black iron oxide"; "CI pigment brown 7"; "CI 77489"; "CI 77491"; "CI 77492"; "CI 77499"; Ferric oxide. It is also added to decorative cosmetics, where it often appears as a pigment. GoodGuide also offers tinted acne products such as Clearasil Daily Clear Tinted Acne Treatment Cream, among other iron oxide products. There is oxide in some sunscreens with physical filters: its shade can be close to the natural skin color, due to which it neutralizes the "whitening" of titanium oxide. The effect of oxides on skin, however, remains to be studied in detail.

Rather than blocking out blue light from your face, you can go with compensation. The blue-violet color is suspected of increasing the number of free radicals - in this case, any antioxidant product can be used. Some cosmetic companies, seeing a new market niche, rushed to put their products there.For example, Dr Sebagh Supreme Day Cream is positioned as a moisturizer with protection from LED, HEV, UVA and UVB rays at the same time. The product, according to the formula, contains a component that protects against photoaging and a complex of antioxidants (and moisturizes well). That is, in general, there is nothing revolutionary about it.

What else is blue light for?

The same blue light and ultraviolet light are part of phototherapy, which treats skin diseases or corrects its characteristics. In well-calculated doses, of course. Ultraviolet irradiation in different versions is used for conditions such as eczema and psoriasis; according to research, it can also help reduce the severity of vitiligo. For example, UVA radiation in combination with a photosensitizing drug is PUVA therapy, also called photochemotherapy. Meanwhile, the risks of treatment with ultraviolet radiation are the same as with UV irradiation in general: premature aging of the skin, redness, the need to protect the eyes during treatment, and so on. Phototherapy of this kind is also used for acne - visible blue light with a wavelength of 400–470 nm demonstrates antimicrobial properties. The mechanism of the phenomenon is not yet fully understood: it is assumed that blue light acts on porphyrins (substances that can absorb light energy) in microbes. Under irradiation, porphyrins are activated, affect the release of oxygen, which damages and destroys microbes.

In some ways, blue light is perhaps even more effective than antibiotics - namely, it is more difficult for microbes to develop resistance to it. The efficacy of blue light was tested on organisms with a gastric infection with Helicobacter pylori (the name of this bacterium has been heard by everyone with gastritis), and it worked. More importantly, blue light is used to treat Acne vulgaris, acne vulgaris, in mild to moderate stages - most often it turns out well (here's a good example). So, a twelve-week study in 2018 showed excellent results, the effectiveness of treatment ranged from 58.3% with an easy stage. At the same time, the result persisted for a long time, and there were few side effects. So the very blue light that we are advised to defend against today has one benefit if applied correctly.

Photos: Kirill Zhuravlev -, F16-ISO100 -, by-studio -


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