Spreading Clean Beauty

Blue light protection skin care: Why digital devices can cause aging

Blue light is becoming a growing concern for consumers. According to market research conducted by the NPD Group, consumers are more aware than ever of the threat artificial light poses to their skin. Today, 23% of American adults understand what the term ‘blue light’ means, and subsequently, 40% of consumers in the United States have tried or are interested in blue light protection skin care products. This signals an interesting shift in sun care trends, and as such, the beauty industry needs to invest in the research and development to tap into this emerging market.

What is blue light?  

Blue light, otherwise known as high-frequency light or HEV (High Energy Visible) is a type of radiation similar to ultraviolet (UV) radiation with a wavelength of between approximately 400nm and 500nm. Although this type of radiation is naturally emitted by the sun, it is also produced by artificial light sources. Blue light is constantly emitted from devices like television screens, smartphones, tablets, computers, and low-energy or LED light bulbs. In fact, research suggests that more than 80% of the blue light that reaches our bodies through our skin and retinas comes from light in our homes and workplaces. 

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The effect of blue light on the health of our skin

Although research into the full spectrum of effects that blue light has on the skin is ongoing, studies suggest that it has an impact comparable to sun damage. For example, in a 2010 study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, researchers found that the effects of blue light exposure included pigmentation, redness, and swelling, similar to damage caused by UVA rays. This study was largely conducted on individuals with darker skin tones, suggesting that blue light radiation should be a cause for concern for people that wouldn’t usually burn in the sun. 

In essence, blue light is a type of pollution; deriving from electronic devices and radio waves, this type of radiation seems to certainly have a negative effect on the health of our skin. Although this study was small, it indicated that blue light is more than likely to impact dermal health and speed up the aging process for all skin types. Considering the amount of time most people spend in front of screens or under artificial light, blue light protection skin care should be a priority. 

Developing blue light protection skin care

Taking into account the risks associated with blue light exposure – and the subsequent consumer interest in blue light protection – cosmetics manufacturers need to design innovative blue light protection skin care products. The most logical line of inquiry would be within the sun care segment, where many products already contain UV protection and antioxidants to protect from free radicals. 

Furthermore, with the addition of protection from the blue light, sun care brands could break into lucrative new markets. As the study discussed above demonstrates, blue light is as much of a concern for individuals with dark skin tones as light. For instance, 17% of Indian consumers would be interested in sun care products that protect from blue light from screens. Whereas previously individuals with darker complexions may have been disinterested in the UV protection segment, formulating products with blue light protection presents an important new opportunity for sun care manufacturers – enabling them to reach a far broader spectrum of consumers.

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