What is Blue Light and Why Is Everyone Talking About It?

The glare from your computer and other LED screens may be aging your skin and affecting your mood and sleep. Now there’s a way to protect yourself from these potentially damaging rays.

You may have heard friends complain about “screen face,” “tech neck” or “smartphone wrinkles”—the toll of spending too many hours in front of an electronic screen. Those aren’t just vivid metaphors—over-exposure to blue light may actually be harmful to your skin and your health. (As if you needed another excuse for a digital detox!) Here is what you need to know, and what to do about it.

What is Blue Light?

Blue light refers to the short but high-energy wavelengths on the blue end of the visible light spectrum. A lot of the blue light we’re exposed to comes naturally from the sun (the scattering of blue light by air molecules is what makes the sky look blue). But it’s also emitted by LED lights, including those found in TV screens, smartphones, tablets and computers. Today the average person spends upwards of 12 hours a day in front of screens of some sort—it seriously adds up.

Why is it a problem?

Blue light, when it occurs naturally, can be a good thing: The body uses blue light from the sun to regulate sleep and wake cycles (aka your circadian rhythm); blue light also boosts attention and mood—you know that energized feeling you have on a bright, blue-sky day? Thank blue light, in part, for that lift. Naturally falling levels of blue light at the end of the day also help you fall asleep.

The problem comes with overexposure, says Marta Cammarano, Ph.D., VP of research and product development here at Chantecaille. Too much blue light can confuse the body’s clock at night and suppress the release of melatonin in the brain, causing sleep disorders, which may eventually be associated with conditions like diabetes and obesity. In the eyes, prolonged exposure to blue light can lead to digital eye strain and vision issues like retinal damage.

Your skin can suffer, too. Preliminary research shows that visible and blue light may also trigger skin aging by penetrating deeply into its layers, inducing oxidative stress and mitochondrial DNA damage and leading to hyperpigmentation and collagen breakdown. “All of this may be linked to fine lines, wrinkles, and overall aging,” Cammarano says. In short: If you’re in front of a screen often (and who isn’t?!), you should be thinking about protecting your skin.

How can applying a blue light-protection product help?

Key botanicals in Chantecaille’s Blue Light Protection Hyaluronic Serum fight blue-light pollution and digital aging. Fermented extract from a radiation-resistant microorganism helps skin adapt to visible light, minimizing the appearance of brown spots and wrinkles. Nasturtium flower extract revitalizes skin that has been overexposed to blue light. Not to mention that in our Bio Lifting Serum+, cocoa peptides extracted from Peruvian cacao also combat blue light pollution and oxidative stress. Not only can an anti-blue light serum help shield your skin from indoor LED lighting, but it’s also a good bet to wear under your daily moisturizer and a sunscreen that protects against UV-A and UV-B rays.

What else does the serum do?

Blue Light Protection Hyaluronic Serum also helps out with the appearance of skin volume and smoothness. The serum contains tamarind extract, a vegetal equivalent of Hyaluronic Acid that hydrates to improve visible firmness, and alga extract that mirrors the effects of Hyaluronic Acid, smoothing the skin’s appearance and reducing the look of marionette lines.

Are there other things we can do to reduce blue light exposure?

We’re not going to recommend going back to energy-sucking incandescent light bulbs. But it’s a good idea to cut down on screen use, particularly in the two to three hours before bed, to minimize sleep-cycle disruption. Using a pair of blue-light blocking glasses—there are now a few different options on the market—may likewise help normalize circadian rhythms and ease blue light’s effects on the eyes. “You can also lower the brightness of your phone or computer screen” during the day, Cammarano advises, or download a blue-light filter app for your smartphone or tablet. But remember, most blue light exposure comes from being outdoors, and there’s nothing like a wide-brimmed sun hat to do the trick.

Learn more about the 6 supercharged botanicals that help save your skin from blue light.

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