You know to wear sunscreen when you’re at the beach or going on a hike, or in any other situation where you might expect to spend a lot of time in the sun, but should you be worried about the light coming from your phone, laptop or other devices?
More health experts are warning against the skin damage that can occur following exposure to blue light, the kind of light that your tech devices typically emit and, while many health-conscious beauty enthusiasts with a skincare routine incorporate some level of sunscreen into their daily product choices, not all sunscreens will protect you from blue light.
Here’s what you need to know about blue light sunscreen, whether or not blue light skin care is really necessary, and the best blue light sunscreen products to buy.
What is Blue Light?
While the term “blue light” has become more common with the advent of personal tech use, blue light isn’t just relegated to tech, and it’s nothing new. Blue light is all around us and accounts for about a third of all visible light.
Dr. Alpana Mohta, dual board-certified dermatologist and founder of Dralpana.com sheds some light on the topic. “The sun emits visible radiations between the spectrum of blue to red light. Blue light sunscreen refers to a type of sunscreen that offers protection against blue light, which is a type of high-energy visible (HEV) light emitted by the sun, electronic devices, and other sources. While the evidence on the harmful effects of blue light on skin is not yet conclusive, some studies suggest that exposure to blue light may cause oxidative stress, inflammation, and hyperpigmentation in the skin.”
Artificial sources of light also emit blue light, from, yes, phones and computer screens to certain light bulbs.
Blue light isn’t all bad; it actually serves some positive purposes by helping to elevate mood and boost your brain function (and perhaps this is why you might feel more alert after staring at your phone in bed in the middle of the night).
However, blue light also comes with some downsides. Too much blue light exposure can lead to eye problems and sleep issues, as well as — we now know — skin issues. Dermatologists say that too much blue light exposure can lead to changes in your skin’s molecular makeup, leading to advanced and premature aging.
Protecting Your Skin from Blue Light
If you’re serious about reducing the signs of skin aging, you’ll likely want to consider adding some blue light skin protection to your arsenal of anti-aging skin care products. Luckily, if you already use sunscreen as part of your skincare routine, you may already be shielding your skin from the harmful effects of blue light and not even know it. Sunscreens with certain ingredients, including zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, will protect your skin against blue light.
What to Look for When Shopping for Blue Light Sunscreen
Before you start shopping for a blue light sunscreen, there are a few things you’ll want to take into consideration to ensure you only pick out the best product for your needs.
As we already mentioned, in order for a sunscreen to effectively block blue light, it should contain either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. However, depending on your needs and skin care goals, you might want to look for other ingredients as well.
Vitamin C, Vitamin E and antioxidants will help further protect your skin from damage. You may even be able to find sunscreens that contain ingredients you use elsewhere in your skin care routine, like peptides, allowing you to cut down on the number of products you’re using and streamlining your routine.
And speaking of your current routine, think about how sun protection might fit into it. Do you already use sunscreen? Then swapping out one for another might be an easy adjustment.
If you don’t already use sunscreen, you may want to think about when you’ll apply the sunscreen and whether or not a certain formula will work on top of or beneath other products, like cosmetics.
Current Skin Concerns
Beyond concerns about aging, you may have other skin concerns that will affect what sunscreen you buy. Dry skin, oily skin, acne and other skin concerns should be taken into consideration, so you only buy products that will help your issue, not exacerbate it.
You can find skincare products that come in an array of sizes. Do you want a bulk bottle of sunscreen that will last you for months? Would you prefer a slender tube that you can slip into your bag and take on the go or one that’s TSA-approved for travel? Maybe you need both. Consider the option that will best suit your needs.
Sunscreen vs. Serums and Other Products
Keep a careful eye out while you shop for a blue light sunscreen, as there are many products on the market that say they’ll provide blue light protection or that they’ll combat the signs of aging caused by blue light, but they’re not actual sunscreens. There’s no SPF rating or ingredients that actually block the light’s rays.
These products definitely have their places. They provide tons of benefits and could make great additions to your skincare routine, but it’s worth noting that they’re not real sunscreen, and they don’t have any blue light-blocking, broad-spectrum SPF ingredients.
Dr. Mohta adds, “As a dermatologist, I recommend using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, which can provide protection against both UV and blue light. Additionally, it’s important to remember that sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours or after swimming or sweating to ensure adequate protection.”
The Best Blue Light Sunscreens:
So, ready to start shopping? Here are some of our favorite blue light sunscreen options.
This sunscreen contains zinc oxide, which means it’ll protect you from both UV and blue light, as well as UVB, IR rays and pollution. The creamy formula is intended to be worn daily and is safe for sensitive skin. You can even use it on delicate skin that’s recently undergone cosmetic treatments.
You can wear this sunscreen under makeup, but it’s advised that you apply it at least 15 minutes before you expose your skin to blue light or sunlight. (Just hold off on your daily screen time — it can wait.)
This sunscreen is also suitable for blocking an array of light thanks to its zinc oxide power. It’s also a great fit for those with specific skin concerns like rosacea, acne or hyperpigmentation. Beyond zinc oxide, active ingredients include hyaluronic acid and lactic acid.
For extra convenience, you can order this sunscreen on Amazon and then have it regularly shipped to your house via a subscription. Additionally, this option is a little more affordable than some of the others on our list.
Reviewers report that it’s suitable for super-sensitive skin that typically breaks out following sunscreen application and that it can be worn under makeup.
So remember how we said above that there are sunscreens, and then there are serums that aren’t sunscreens? Well, this product is a mixture of both. This tinted mineral serum, with its zinc oxide, offers SPF 40 protection, but it’s incredibly lightweight and also includes active ingredients like hyaluronic acid, niacinamide and squalene.
Since it’s tinted, you can wear it in place of your normal makeup if you typically go light on the foundation. The serum comes in more than 25 different shades.
Reviewers report that the product’s smell isn’t the greatest, and you do have to make sure you exfoliate before you use it. But, if you can get past those issues, you’ll love the product’s smooth application and look, as well as its protection.
A similar, tinted sunscreen from skincare favorite brand Drunk Elephant, this option offers SPF 30 protection with iron oxides that block blue light. You’ll also enjoy the moisturizing, antioxidant ingredients that boost this product’s power, from glycerin to sunflower shoot extract to algae to raspberry seed oil.
You can use the sunscreen on not just your face, but also your neck, chest and hands to prevent premature aging elsewhere. Just be sure to apply it about 15 minutes before light exposure for full protection.
A consumer study found that nearly 90% of users said that the product gave their complexion a glowing effect, while nearly 100% agreed that the product could be applied smoothly and evenly without streaky residue.
For a more budget-friendly option, look to Cocokind’s basic facial sunscreen lotion with SPF 32 protection that protects your skin against all light damage. The moisturizing ingredients, zinc oxide, plankton and algae help further protect your skin from environmental stress and other damage, as well as early signs of aging.
The Best Blue Light Serums and Other Products
As mentioned, there are a lot of products out there that aren’t really sunscreen, but they do help to counteract the symptoms of blue light skin exposure. If you’re not looking for a new sunscreen, but you do want to remedy blue light-caused issues like early signs of aging, consider adding one of these products to your online shopping cart.
This blue light-specific hydrating mist is a great pick for those who shy away from wearing sunscreen (even when they know they should!) because they typically associate sunscreen with a greasy, gross, lotion-like texture that causes breakouts and other skin woes. In mist form, the light spray is refreshing and hydrating, leaving behind no icky goo or white smears.
The all-natural and cruelty-free formula uses red algae and other active marine ingredients to repair existing damage, hydrate your skin and help protect it from pollution and blue light damage. Applying the mist is easy, and you can use it right after you’re finished applying your makeup, just like you might a setting spray. You can reapply the mist up to three times daily.
This option, available conveniently on Amazon, is a serum, so it offers multiple benefits beyond just protecting your skin from the impacts of blue light. Packed with hyaluronic acid, this Payot serum smooths and plumps skin to reduce the signs of fine lines as soon as you put it on. Just apply the serum in the morning, as you would any serum or cream.
Reviewers report that the formula isn’t greasy and that it’s a good fit for all skin types. It won’t clog up your pores, and it leaves your complexion glowing and radiant.
This blue light protection serum is similar and filled with hyaluronic acid to keep you looking younger in every way. While the serum is designed for all skin types, do note that the product is “intensely moisturizing.” Despite this, reviewers with oily skin do say it works well without adding to their skin’s natural oil. Reviewers also report that they love the formula’s lightweight, silky texture.
Just use the serum as you would any other, under your moisturizer. Apply it both in the morning and at night.
Apply this digital defense serum in the morning and evening, after you apply your moisturizer. The lightweight, cooling formula will not just protect you from the signs of blue light; it’ll also help to reduce uneven skin tone and brighten your complexion.
Blue Light Sunscreen FAQs
TL;DR? Have more questions? Let’s see if we can answer them.
What is blue light?
Blue light, also called HEV light, which stands for “high energy visible” light, is a highly common light that’s emitted from the sun, certain light bulbs and techs such as tablets, smartphones, televisions, computer screens and more.
Do I need a blue light-specific sunscreen?
Not really. That said, you do need to add sunscreen in general to your skincare routine, as blue light — as well as other forms of light — can harm your skin over time. Look for any sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide in the ingredients list to protect your skin from blue light.
How much is blue light sunscreen?
If you’re buying sunscreen that specifically shields your skin from blue light, you can expect to pay double digits, with some sunscreens from pricier, luxury skin care brands costing over $50.
Give Your Skin the Protection It Needs
You only get one face. Give your skin the protection it needs from the tech you use on a daily basis with blue light sunscreen.
You might also be interested in: What is Red Light Therapy and Does it Work? [Plus 5 At-Home Devices To Get You Started]
The 9 Best Blue Light Sunscreens & Serums:
- Alastin Skincare SilkSHIELD All Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 with TriHex Technology
- EltaMD UV Clear Brand Spectrum SPF 46
- ILIA Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40
- Drunk Elephant Umbra Tinte Physical Daily Defense SPF 30
- Cocokind Daily SPF
- One Ocean Beauty Blue Light Protection Hydrating Mist
- Payot Blue Techni Liss Anti Blue Light & Aging Skin Care
- Chantecaille Blue Light Protection Hyaluronic Serum
- SeneGence Digital Age Defense Serum