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DSM in Personal Care & Aroma Ingredients

Blue light in the digital age

DSM scientists investigate impact of artificial blue light on skin

What’s new about blue light?

Blue light has been around longer than we have – it’s a natural part of sunlight. So why the sudden interest now?

Because blue light has come indoors. Today, blue light emitted by electronic devices like smartphones, tablets, computers and TVs can reach 80% of the intensity of a blue sky. Currently US and Japanese users already spend four hours a day looking at artificial blue light sources, and in Europe the figure is hovering around three hours.  Many people now even use two screens at once. In Britain, for example, 81% of 10–15 year olds with a mobile phone use a second screen while they watch TV. 

Indoor blue light is not natural 

The peak emission of light from electronic devices is about 470 nm, firmly in the middle of the blue light range (400–500 nm). There is already strong evidence that concentrated light of this wavelength has adverse effects on health. Blue light at the wrong time of day – for example when we take our phones to bed with us, or stay up late in front of the TV – is known to upset our circadian rhythm and disrupt our sleep patterns. 

But what does it do to our skin?

Blue light goes deeper

Using light sources that excluded UV rays, DSM’s scientists were able to show that blue light has the potential to penetrate and damage all skin layers. At the surface it is a major source of oxidative stress and hence may weaken the epidermal barrier and cause hyperpigmentation. Damage to the extracellular matrix may accelerate the skin aging process.

What are consumers saying?

Consumers are now beginning to make the link between blue light and potential harm to skin, with beauty journalists and bloggers devoting more articles to the subject. Evidently, they are seeking more information.

But information alone is not enough to beat the blues. As yet, only a handful of skin care products offer protection that extends beyond UV into the blue light spectrum. We in the beauty industry are therefore called on to find creative solutions to this new threat: solutions which DSM is ready to provide with its new concept, Taking total protection into the blue.