It seems that we are increasingly aware of the damage to the skin caused by solar radiation and, therefore, we use products to protect ourselves from it. Surely you know about UVA and UVB radiation, but currently experts put a point of warning about exposure to another type of radiation known as visible light, as this can also have negative effects on our skin.
Visible light comprises the small range of radiation within the electromagnetic spectrum that can capture the human eye. In other words, it is the light that we can see, whether it is from the sun, from a light bulb, from a screen… Within the spectrum of visible light, blue light is the closest to UV radiation and it is the most energetic among those that we can perceive by sight.
If you continue reading this article, you will discover:
- Where the radiation known as blue light comes from
- What effects blue light have on our skin
- What to do to protect ourselves from the effects of blue light
Origin of blue light
We usually associate visible light with light from the sun. However, we do not usually associate it with the light from light bulbs or from the screens of mobile phones, computers, or televisions that we use daily.
Blue light represents around 30% of the visible light spectrum, and has a wavelength of between 380-475nm, very close to UV radiation. It is the most energetic type of radiation in the visible spectrum and is capable of penetrating to the deepest layers of the skin, which, added to the number of hours we are exposed to our electronic devices, makes it a factor to consider in our skin health.
How blue light affects the skin
Next, a series of effects that this type of light cause is exposed.
Aquaporins are a family of structural proteins that form channels in the cell membrane to facilitate water transport.
It has been observed that, after exposure to blue light, the number of this type of molecule is decreased, thus affecting the ability of cells to retain water, and eventually leading to dehydrated skin.
The structure of the skin is based on an extracellular matrix that acts as a link between cells but is very sensitive to external factors. This is due to the activation of metalloproteinase enzymes, related to the degradation of matrix molecules, by different stimuli, such as blue light. The uncontrolled action of these enzymes leads to the degradation of protein fibers in our skin such as collagen or elastin, causing a loss of elasticity and firmness, and favoring the formation of wrinkles.
At the same time, blue light can promote the formation of free radicals, very unstable molecules, which also damage the matrix. Its action affects the functionality of fibroblasts, cells responsible for producing collagen and maintaining the structure of skin tissue. These effects also contribute to loss of firmness and premature aging.
Appearance of spots
As we already told in a previous article, exposure to light stimulates the activation of melanocytes, responsible for providing melanin to our skin. Additionally, blue light is also capable of inducing this activation, thus favoring the appearance of hyperpigmented areas. It has been observed that the duration of these spots is longer than those caused by UV rays.
Lack of rest
Excessive exposure to light from screens during the day causes light overexcitation in our brain and can lead to insomnia. This lack of sleep directly affects the skin, and also leads to dehydration of the skin and decreased collagen synthesis by fibroblasts.
In conclusion, exposure to artificial light is a factor to consider in our skin health, since it can produce negative effects on the skin, as occurs with other types of radiation.
Currently, we cannot spend our day to day without using a computer or a mobile, but it is convenient to establish periods of disconnection: your skin and your mind will thank you.
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Keywords: blue light, radiation, effects on the skin, wrinkles, dehydration, insomnia
Cohen L, Brodsky MA, Zubair R, Kohli I, Hamzavi IH, Sadeghpour M, Cutaneous Interaction with Visible Light: What Do We Know. J Am Acad Dermat. (2020).
Liebmann, J., Born, M., & Kolb-Bachofen, V. Blue-light irradiation regulates proliferation and differentiation in human skin cells. Journal of Investigative Dermatology (2010) 130(1), 259-269.
Godley, B. F., Shamsi, F. A., Liang, F. Q., Jarrett, S. G., Davies, S., & Boulton, M. Blue light induces mitochondrial DNA damage and free radical production in epithelial cells. Journal of Biological Chemistry (2005) 280(22), 21061-21066.