Do products that protect against blue and infrared light actually work?

A lot of my favorite brands like Murad and Supergoop have been coming out with products that protect against Blue and infrared light in addition to protecting against the damaging rays from the sun, UVA/UVB. Infrared is the dangerous light that comes from things like blow driers, ovens, and gel manicures, while blue light comes from our device (think cellphones and computers). Both are said to be potentially dangerous and major contributors to skin aging so I was very curious to find out whether or not these skincare products might help (because I don’t see myself quitting Instagram, gel manicures, or baking cookies anytime soon…).

“All light energy is categorized on an electromagnetic spectrum,” explains Dr. Hal Weitzbuch, M.D., M.S., F.A.A.D., Calabasas Dermatology Center Medical Director. “Infrared is on one end of the spectrum, then comes visible light including red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet, and then on the other end is ultraviolet light. While ultraviolet energy has long been known to cause skin cancer, more and more data keeps coming out supporting the role infrared energy from the sun plays in causing skin damage as well. Blue light is part of visible light but specifically is emitted from computer and phone screens at higher levels. While skin cancer is not believed to be associated with high blue light levels, this light has been shown to damage the skin.”

To dig a little deeper I spoke with Dr. Anil Shah of Aesthetic Skin.

There is a lot of talk now about blue light and infrared. What exactly are those?
“Although not scientifically validated, preliminary data suggests that Blue light and infrared light are the latest in damaging sources that can affect our skin.  So what exactly are they?  Blue light aka HEV or high energy light is the light seen from our smart devices including tablets, TVs, and computer screens.  Infrared light is the red light which we can’t see but can be felt as heat from our oven, laptops, etc.  Both blue light and infrared light have been associated with premature aging and worsening of skin pigmentation issues.”

Are there skincare/sunscreen products that can protect against them?
“There are a variety of skin care products on the market which utilize traditional sunscreen ingredients such as titanium oxide or avobenzone and combine them with a variety of specialized ingredients.  These ingredients include red algae which absorbs blue light and a whole host of antioxidants which claim to shield against infrared and HEV.  Unfortunately, there is not any evidence that any of these ingredients are successful in helping against either.  The best bet is to make sure antioxidants are included in your morning skin care routine to help combat against HEV, infrared as well as the traditional UVA and UVB.  Hopefully, more studies will help us find the best solution to this new form of light pollution.”

My takeaway? A lot of research still needs to be done! In the meantime we have nothing  to lose opting for sunscreen products formulated to comprehensively fight more than just UVA/UVB like Murad City Skin Age Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 50 PA++++ and the Supergoop line (particularly Unseen Sunscreen). Dr. Weitzbuch, like Dr. Shah, also suggests looking for serums and creams that have antioxidants. “These will help fight the free radicals that are created when infrared and blue light hit the skin.” He suggests Epionce’s Intense Defense Serum as a base layer prior to applying SPF sunscreen.

Model image: Vogue

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