A two-part review article published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology highlights the cosmetic industry's heightened interest in blue/visible light. Part one defines blue light and identifies its effects on skin, whereas part two takes inventory of cosmetic ingredients to mitigate these effects and test methods to substantiate related claims.
According to the University of Toledo authors, blue or visible light falls within the wavelengths of 400 to 500 nm and is primarily emitted by the sun as well as digital devices, light‐emitting diodes and fluorescent lighting. Concerns over blue light's effects on skin emerged more than a decade ago but have surged in recent years due in part to increased screen time from tablets, smart phones, etc.
Based on Google Scholar literature searches, the authors found that shorter exposure times to low energy blue light can actually prevent skin diseases, whereas longer exposures to high energy blue light can increase photoaging and skin barrier damage, among other effects.
Furthermore, as is well-known, the industry has launched many ingredients for blue light protection including algae derivatives, UV filters, botanical extracts, antioxidants and vitamins, etc. And while no formal test method has been established to measure their efficacy, spectrophotometers, imaging devices and visual observation, along with measurements of oxidative stress endpoints, have been implemented.
The authors concluded, based on these observations, that industry interest in this area will continue to rise, especially as new test methods uncover additional insights that further the development of ingredients for blue light protection.
"Consumer concerns about blue light and its potentially damaging effects on the skin have been growing as more scientific results are published about this topic," writes Gabriella Baki, Ph.D., director of cosmetic science and formulation design major at the University of Toledo, and co-author on the study. "Blue light protection is important, and in my opinion, we will see more ingredients and products—including moisturizers, sunscreens and even makeup products, with blue light protection claims in the near future."