There are products that work to prevent blue light damage, and yet, conversely, there are treatments and gadgets which harness blue LED light to treat skin. What gives? The difference lies in the wavelength of these lights and how much you are exposed to. Blue light therapy, which is beneficial for skin, uses blue LED light with a wavelength between 405 nm to 420 nm to target acne.
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The Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) bacteria, which causes pimples, contains an abundant amount of the molecule porphyrin. These molecules absorb blue light to create free radicals, eradicating the bacteria in the process. Blue LED light also contains anti-inflammatory properties which soothes redness.
What is blue light?
The blue light which has often been demonised is also known as High Energy Visible (HEV) light. HEV light has been shown to penetrate deeper into skin compared to UVA and UVB rays, and can cause damage which shows up in the form of wrinkles and pigmentation. It has a wavelength which ranges from 380 nm to 500 nm, and as mentioned in the introduction, you will find that this includes the range of light that is used for blue light therapy treatments as well. That is because blue light is not inherently bad for you. Research has shown that exposure to HEV light can boost mental alertness and elevate your mood, but the problem comes from over-exposure to blue light in the form of computer and mobile phone screens.
How is blue light harmful to skin?
Unlike UVA and UVB rays, which disappear after the sun sets, the threat from HEV light extends well into the night. As with most things in our lives, balance is the key when ascertaining if blue light is good or bad for you. Blue light can be both a friend and a foe. If you spend long hours in front of your computer or mobile phone screen, it may be wise to consider some form of protection against the risk of over-exposure, be it putting on a pair of yellow-tinted glasses for your eyes or applying skincare products which can shield your skin against HEV light.
Check out our best picks to protect your skin against overexposure to blue light damage: