Why You Should Care About Blue Light Now More Than Ever
Not to sound too melodramatic, but at this very moment, as you read this, rays of light are penetrating deep into the layers of your skin. And chances are, as of late, you’re spending a lot more time in front of a screen than usual, whether you’re working remotely, attending Zoom happy hours, or filming TikTok dances late into the night (guilty!). As we adapt to spending more time at home, our skin is feeling the consequences. That’s because light rays, whether they come from the sun or a screen, have the power to leave lasting damage on your skin.Bottom line: Sunscreen is important to protect yourself against all sorts of radiation, not just the UVA and UVB rays you hear about. But fear not! Keep scrolling for a complete guide to all the types of light and how to protect yourself against each (promise not to get too scientific on you).
Types of Light That Affect SkinUltraviolet Light (UV)
The type of invisible light emitted from the sun can be broken down into three categories: UVA, UVB, and UVC. Because exposure to UVC light hasn’t been proven to have much of an impact on skin, the focus tends to be more on UVA and UVB rays.
- UVA is a type of long-wave light that can cause skin cancer and accelerated aging. Since 95% of UVA light reaches the Earth (and, in effect, our bodies) it has the ability to do significant damage to our skin. These rays reach the deep layers of the skin and produce melanin (which is what causes skin to look tan). They contribute to the formation of wrinkles and loss of firmness. UVA rays can also penetrate glass, meaning they pass through windows.
- UVB has a shorter wavelength than UVA light (plus, there are 500 more UVA rays found in sunlight than UVB ones) but this type of ray causes sunburn, as well as skin cancer. UVB light reaches the topmost layer of your skin and, unlike UVA, these rays cannot seep through glass. However, it is prevalent outdoors—especially if you live in sunnier climates—and can reflect off water, sand, and snow (and yes, reach you even on cloudy days!)
While HEV light also comes from the sun, unlike UV light, this type of ray is visible to the human eye (it’s actually the same type of light that causes the sky to appear blue). On top of that, this blue light is emitted from many of the electronic devices we are glued to on a daily basis—smartphones, computers, televisions. While research is still fairly limited, there is growing evidence that this type of light can reach deep below the layers of the skin, leading to hyperpigmentation (like melasma and dark spots) and the breakdown of collagen, which causes premature aging (like wrinkles). Excessive exposure to blue light is one of the major reasons to use a daily sunscreen that protects against HEV light as well as UV light, particularly if you spend a majority of your day in front of a screen.
Also known as infrared light, these rays are invisible to the human eye but can be felt. For example, the heat we feel from a radiator is infrared light; it’s also what allows our remote control to change channels on the TV. Exposure to infrared light has not been shown to cause skin cancer, and research about its impact on skin is fairly limited. That said, there is evidence that adding antioxidants to your regimen can protect your skin from potential cellular damage caused by IR, which is why we included antioxidants that combat IR, HEV, and more in our sunscreen formula. You can also load up on antioxidants by patting on our Sunday Morning Oil-Serum.