Blue Light

HEV Licht; LED-Blaulicht; Blaues Licht

It is a known fact that we should protect our skin against harmful UV rays. Recently, we have been warned about other rays: blue light. That is not at all a trendy whim. It is scientifically proven fact. Blue light is synonymous with HEV light, High Energy Visible light. It is also known as screen light or ultrablue light, and it really has a blue or violet glow. In the light spectrum, blue light is adjacent to the UV rays. Other than the UV rays, which have been examined extensively during the last years, scientists have not attached any importance to blue light for a long time. Now, that has changed (fortunately) because of the negative side effects of blue light.

Let us first take a look at the composition of the sunlight.


The three components of the sunlight

We distinguish between three parts of the perceivable sunlight. First, the UV rays invisible to our eyes. They divide up into three segments: UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C rays. Second, the infrared light, the thermal radiation. This invisible light makes up nearly 45 percent of the total sun rays. The third component is the visible light, i.e. the rays that are visible to the human eyes. The proportion of the visible light in the sunlight is 50 percent. Because of its extremely energy-rich radiation it is called High Energy Visible Light (HEV light or blue light). The naturally occurring blue light has to be distinguished from the blue light produced by smartphones, tablets, notebooks, computers, and televisions. A US study has revealed that this artificial blue light is much more harmful for our skin than the UV radiation of the sun.


The effects of blue light

Blue light contributes to skin aging and damages the cells. While UV-B rays mainly attack skin’s outer layers, blue light penetrates deeper, even to the deepest skin layers. It is not involved in sunburns; but there is evidence that it causes immense oxidative stress and has adverse effects on the cells. Consequently, in the course of time, free radicals destroy the complex cell structures and disturb the essential production of collagen and elastin, which are the bases of skin’s youthful and plump appearance. These damages cause premature skin aging. Blue light is suspected of being a culprit of irregular skin pigmentation or hyperpigmentation in the technical terminology. To conclude, blue light is involved in three annoying effects: the formation of wrinkles, age spots, and irregular pigmentation. Moreover, blue light could be responsible for many cases of skin impurities.


Modern technologies cause premature aging

The blue light radiating from our smartphones, tablets, or screen is nothing other than HEV light. Many of us spend over six hours daily in front of a screen due to their work or in leisure time. We use our smartphone 24 hours a day. We are exposed to blue light without protection and catch the consequences mentioned before. In that context, a case in Great Britain caused a stir. A blogger made fifty or more selfies a day … until she finally was irritated by ugly changes on her skin which she never had detected before. Her skin was troubled by dullness and impurities, wrinkles and blotches. The young woman’s complexion looked increasingly tired. Her dermatologist did not need a long time to find the cause: the blue light of her smartphone. New generation cellular phones have setting options to reduce the blue notes in the display. However, the majority of mobile phones do not yet offer such setting options, and most smartphone users do not think of that opportunity. Moreover, so far, it is not clear whether the reduction of the blue light is sufficient to have a protective effect.


Considering the fact that the mass distribution of ultra-modern flat screens, innovative smartphones, tablets, computers, and lamps has taken place only during the recent ten years, at present there are not yet any long-term studies revealing the exact risks and side effects of the blue light. One thing is for certain already now: this light is not harmless. Larger quantities of blue light, which are usual on a normal day in the office in front of the PC or with our today’s excessive use of cellular phones, cause lines and wrinkles, spots, dryness and redness, and impair healing.

But that’s not all: Blue light could damage our eyes. There is evidence that in the long term the blue light promotes the development of cataract.


Effective protection against blue light: cosmetics of the future

Certain cosmetic substances are capable to offer a relatively safe protection against the HEV light.

Such a substance is lutein. Lutein is a carotenoid found mainly in the petals of tagetes (marigold). In medicine, lutein has been used already for some time in the prevention and alleviation of macula degeneration (disease of the retina of the eye) due to old age.  By now, lutein has established itself in natural cosmetics. Scientists have detected that its chemical structure is able to absorb the blue light. In tests, precious facial care oils containing this blue light protection hindered the permeation of blue light.

Another effective substance is licochalcone A. This natural substance is derived from the roots of the Chinese liquorice. It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties. It is high-performing to neutralize free radicals. Licochalcone A achieves cell protection while counteracting the adversities of blue light.

Glycyrrhetinic acid is an extremely active antioxidant. It, too, is derived from the roots of the Chinese liquorice. It shields the DNS. It has anti-inflammatory and soothing effects and – what is even more important- it intensively supports the cells’ own repair mechanisms.

Sun protection products generally are effective shields against UV-A and UV-B rays but those offering additional protecting effects against the harmful blue light are very rare.

The solution are innovative formulas containing plant-derived substances like lutein, licochalcone A or glycyrrhetinic acid specialized in the protection against oxidative stress caused by blue light and UV rays. “Cell phone creams”, as those products are nicknamed,   will become standard on cosmetics shelves in the future.


Portraits of the substances to protect against blue light


INCI: Lutein

Alternative terms: Xanthophyll, E 161b

CAS number: 127-40-2

Brief description: orange-yellow solid

Solubility: almost insoluble in water

Melting point: 190° Celsius


Licochalcone A

Alternative terms: 3-dimethylallyl-4,4´-dihydroxy-6-methoxychalcone, LICA

CAS number: 58749-22-7

Origin:  Flavonoid, derived from the root of Chinese liquorice

Brief description: yellow, crystalline solid


Glycyrrhetinic acid

INCI: Glycyrrhetinic acid

CAS number: 1405-86-3

Brief description: an aglycone of the liquorice ingredient glycyrrhizine, active ingredient of the category of triterpene saponins

Solubility: almost insoluble in cold water

Melting point: 220° Celsius


Products with blue light protection screens by Cosmacon

Although the scientific knowledge about HEV light is rather new, it has already created a stir because this kind of radiation promotes premature skin aging. Cosmacon develops for you the innovative products that protect against the blue light … that means protection against premature aging.