Effects of blue light on skin and how to formulate for it - naturally & sustainably!
Updated: Nov 12
Smartphones, laptops, TVs and tablets are a normal part of our everyday life.
Lockdown measures enforced due to the Covid-19 pandemic have brought about a surge in TV watching, online streaming and social media usage, along with a rise in working from home models. This means we're connected to our devices now more than ever.
According to a recent study by Unilever, 60% of people now spend more than six hours a day in front of a digital device(1).
Trouble is, these devices that we’re all so dependent on are very focused sources of HEV light (blue light); which is among the shortest, highest energy wavelengths in the visible light spectrum (it typically ranges in wavelength from 400nm to 500nm).
The major source of this blue light is natural sunlight, but various studies have suggested that continual close-up exposure from our digital devices can impact skin negatively.
60% of people now spend more than six hours a day in front of a digital device which, when spread across five working days, equates to the same impact on the skin as spending 25 minutes in midday sun without protection (2)
So how exactly does blue light affect skin?
The harmful effect of invisible ultra-violet light on our skin has been recognised by scientists for many years. UVA and UVB radiation is a major cause of premature skin ageing, manifesting itself as lines and wrinkles, loss of elasticity, and uneven skin tone and pigmentation.
More recently, it has been discovered that blue light has similar harmful effects on the skin:
Blue light penetrates deeper than UVA and UVB, reaching beyond the dermis (3)
Blue light is responsible for the generation of 50% of the Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) generated in the skin, as a result of sun exposure (4)
Superoxide and hydroxyl radicals are among the radicals generated which promote indirect DNA damage (5)
Blue light exposure activates matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) that lead to wrinkle formation and premature ageing (6)
Blue light decreases the carotenoid content in the skin (7)
Unfortunately, 64% of consumers are completely unaware of the effects blue light can have on their skin (8). And, since many of the UV filters used in SPF sunscreens are ineffective against blue light wavelengths, consumer education is key.
Harnessing the power of carotenoid-rich blueberries for blue light skincare
The carotenoid content in our skin decreases when exposed to HEV light.
Carotenoids are important lipid-soluble antioxidants synthesized and typically found as coloured pigments in plants, fruit, and vegetables. Carotenoids act as important antioxidants within the skin; they scavenge harmful free radicals (mainly reactive oxygen species), helping to protect against cellular damage, the effects of ageing, and even some chronic skin conditions.
That's where Blueberry NECTA® comes in. This powerful carotenoid-rich skincare ingredient has been specifically developed to provide a natural shield of defence against HEV exposure from the sun and digital devices (tested at 2% and 3% use levels) - offering skincare formulators a 100% natural solution for battling the blue.
It contains a standardised level of beta-carotene - a source of pro-retinol that can be converted in the body into retinol (vitamin A).
Blueberry NECTA® contains 32% more carotenoids than standard blueberry seed oil
Blueberry NECTA® supports photoaging skin in many other ways too.
It contains protective phytosterols and high levels of essential omega fatty acids (omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9), helping to support skin’s barrier function. The nutritious cocktail of carotenoids and lipids provides a multi-functional protective shield for the skin.
This natural active oil for blue light defence is 100% upcycled too!
One of the most notable benefits to formulators is that Blueberry NECTA® is 100% upcycled; the blueberries used are a waste product of the juice production industry. The oil is extracted from the seeds of the waste pulp via cold-pressing to create a high quality, nutrient-rich, zero waste blueberry oil.
Any leftovers from the production process are upcycled once again to create Blueberry CRUSH™ exfoliants for beauty & personal care!
1kg of Blueberry NECTA® contains approx. 800,000 upcycled berries diverted from food waste
You can order just what you need (to further minimise waste in the supply chain)
If you'd like to try Blueberry NECTA®, you may be pleased to know that - as with all our ingredients - there are no big MOQs, so you don't have to worry about ordering more than you actually need. It’s all part of our ZERO WASTE BEAUTY® pledge.
1 & 2. Unilever 2020, accessed on 9th November 2020 <https://www.unilever.com/news/press-releases/2020/sixty-four-percent-of-people-unaware-of-blue-light-impact-on-skin.html/>
3. Green Facts, accessed on 11th November 2020 <https://copublications.greenfacts.org/en/artificial-light/figtableboxes/8.htm>
4. PubMed: UV, visible and infrared light. Which wavelengths produce oxidative stress in human skin?, accessed on 11th November 2020 <https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19319493/>
5. NCBI: Superoxide accelerates DNA damage by elevating free-iron levels, accessed on 11th November 2020 <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC19375/> & PubMed: Blue light induces mitochondrial DNA damage and free radical production in epithelial cells, accessed on 11th November 2020 <https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15797866/>
6. Journal of Investigative Dermatology, Irradiation of Skin with Visible Light Induces Reactive Oxygen Species and Matrix-Degrading Enzymes, accessed on 11th November 2020 <https://www.jidonline.org/article/S0022-202X(15)35829-2/fulltext>
7. Hindawi, Blue-Violet Light Irradiation Dose Dependently Decreases Carotenoids in Human Skin, Which Indicates the Generation of Free Radicals, accessed on 11th November 2020 <https://www.hindawi.com/journals/omcl/2015/579675/>
8. Unilever 2020, accessed on 9th November 2020 <https://www.unilever.com/news/press-releases/2020/sixty-four-percent-of-people-unaware-of-blue-light-impact-on-skin.html/>