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You likely already know all about how sunlight can affect your skin, but are you aware of the ways blue light can impact your complexion? Blue light is commonly used in light therapy, also known as phototherapy, and it can impact your skin, and perhaps address some of your skin care concerns, in more ways than you might realize. We bet you’re wondering—is blue light good or bad for your skin? Below, we’ve gathered the facts on the potential benefits of blue light and the potential blue light has to damage your skin.
Let’s get down to business—what exactly is blue light? Blue light is a type of visible light that’s used during blue light therapy, a dermatological practice. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), blue light therapy is one of the most popular in-office acne treatments cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Curious about how blue light therapy works? The Mayo Clinic shares that first your doctor might apply a medication—photosensitizers—to make your skin more sensitive to the light. This is where the blue light comes in. The Cleveland Clinic states that under the light, the photosensitizing agent reacts with oxygen, causing a chemical reaction that destroys unhealthy cells.
You may recognize the term blue light because it is also the same as the light emitted from your smartphone and laptop, as well as other technological devices you likely use on a day-to-day basis.
Now that you know more about what blue light is, you may be wondering what benefits it may have for your skin. In particular, blue light used during phototherapy has been shown to improve acne. According to the National Center of Biotechnological Information (NCBI), blue light therapy is clinically shown to control acne and improve skin’s appearance without harsh chemicals or prescriptions. Even better, there are at-home devices available, so you can help address your acne in the comfort of your own home. Just keep in mind that these at-home devices are less powerful than the ones a dermatologist uses, per the AAD, so it may take longer to see results.
One more thing to consider: The AAD states that visible light (which includes blue light) is not effective against blackheads, whiteheads, acne cysts, or nodules—only pimples. So, if you’re looking to treat a form of acne other than the latter, blue light therapy may not be the best option for you.
Now that you know blue light can be used to address acne, you’re probably wondering if blue light can cause harm to your skin. After all, like we mentioned earlier, blue light is all around us—assuming you spend any time on a phone or computer. According to a study from the NCBI, although phototherapy with blue light has become important in the treatment of many dermatologic conditions, there is substantial evidence to show that similar to the exposure to infrared and ultraviolet light on our skin, exposure to blue-violet light can also be associated with some adverse effects on the skin.
So what exactly does this mean? The NCBI scaringly states that selfies can lead to skin damage and accelerated aging—including wrinkles—particularly when taken with flash. This doesn’t mean you should run for the hills when it comes to blue light and blue light therapy, however. As with anything, moderation is key! Researchers have reported that blue light does not cause premature photo-aging and claimed that short-term application of visible blue light in dermatological practice is safe, according to the NCBI study. So, unless you’re taking hours’ worth of non-stop selfies, you’re likely in the clear. Of course, you can always consult with your dermatologist to determine if it’s better for you to lay off the blue light.
Next up: Speaking of technology, check out our article, What is a Smart Mirror?