Blue light from screens may cause premature aging, here's what dermatologists want you to know

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ByKate Larsen KGO logo
Tuesday, August 11, 2020
Here's how blue light from your screens may cause premature aging
With so many people working and learning from home, our screens have become even more ingrained in our daily lives. Bay Area dermatologists say blue light from our screens may lead to premature skin aging.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- With so many people working and learning from home, our screens have become even more ingrained in our daily lives.

"It turns out that our beautiful devices that we love, our laptops, computers, have blue light in them," said Dr. Zakia Rahman.

"There's been a growing interest in whether blue light... may lead to premature skin aging," explained Steven Y. He.

Dr. Rahman and Dr. He are both Bay Area dermatologists.

"We have a lot of evidence that blue light leads to free radical formation as well as a little bit of mitochondrial DNA damage and that can accelerate some of the cells to age a little quicker and ultimately lead to a little bit of fine line formation, redness and brown spots," said Dr. He, who specializes in cosmetic dermatology, at Bay Area Cosmetic Dermatology in San Francisco.

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On the visible light spectrum, blue light is right next to UV light, which we know is very harmful to the skin. But, Dr. He points out that the sun is still multiple times worse than our devices when it comes to light exposure, and that unlike UV light, blue light is NOT thought to cause skin cancer.

However, according to Dr. Rahman, "there is evidence that visible light can actually cause our skin to make pigmentation, particularly in people of color."

Dr. Rahman is a clinical professor of dermatology at Stanford, specializing in lasers and skin of color. "That melanogenesis can be splotchy pigmentation and can be really unsightly and can affect people's life"

The good news, is that you can block blue light.

"You need sunscreen to really sit on skin in order to block the blue light," said Dr. He.

Dermatologists say to use mineral based sunscreens with ingredients like iron oxide, and non-nano zinc and titanium dioxide to block blue and UV light.

Chemical sunscreens do not block blue light.

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Adding an antioxidant to your skin care routine can also help according to Dr. He.

And, on many devices, there are settings to remove some of the blue light from the screen. On many iPhones, there is a "night shift" option in "display and brightness," that actually makes the phone a little bit warmer in color.

Blue light blocking screen protectors are also widely available.

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