LED Blue Light

HEV Licht; smartphone; LED Blue Light

LED blue light is as ubiquitous in our increasingly digitalized lives as it is in visible sunlight. Blue light is part of the visible light spectrum and has the shortest wavelength. It is known to interfere with melatonin production and can affect sleep. It is often emitted by electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets and computers, and can also be emitted by LED lighting and energy-saving light bulbs. Recent studies using improved methods show that both artificial and natural blue light have long been underestimated in their skin-damaging effects.


LED blue light has hardly been investigated in its effect on the skin so far

Until now, long-wavelength blue light, whether emitted by LED devices or from the sun, has received little attention in terms of its effects on skin aging and skin toxicity.

However, a recent experimental study* shows that blue light from digital devices, such as smartphones, tablets or TVs, can cause skin damage and accelerate skin aging. It is reasonable to assume that LED blue light from the sun is also harmful, especially since the irradiance of the sun is higher than that of LED devices. The solar radiation that reaches the earth is 44% visible light, including blue light. Some studies indicate that LED blue light stimulates melagonesis and may contribute to hyperpigmentation disorders. Natural blue light in realistic doses appears to be harmful to the skin by producing oxidative stress that causes irreversible damage through lipid peroxidation, protein oxidation, and overproduction of MMP-1.

Such harmful effects on the skin could be demonstrated in an experimental study* for LED blue light under normal usage patterns of digital devices.

The previously available data on the effect of blue light on the skin were obtained on very simple cell models, which are hardly comparable to human skin. The new experimental study worked with 3-D skin models.

Single layer keratinocyte models or skin explants were irradiated with a light emitting diode (LED) with an emission spectrum similar to smartphones or televisions (420-480nm with a peak at 450-453nm).

The study found that blue light from digital devices can harm skin health and lead to premature aging.


The results at a glance:

 Blue light generates ROS (reactive oxygen species) in the skin

In the above-mentioned study, the intracellular concentration of ROS in keratinocytes was significantly increased by LED exposure. The harmful effects of ROS include disruption of signaling pathways and thus cell metabolism, impairment of the structure and function of proteins and lipids. This results in chronic inflammation, disruption of immune function. ROS enhance the expression of matrix metalloproteases, which degrade the extracellular matrix during chronological skin aging, and the processes of light-induced skin aging.

In the experiment, it was found that the concentration of ROS in keratinocytes was greater than in fibroblasts after LED blue light irradiation. The keratinocytes seem to be particularly sensitive to oxidative stress and need special protection.


LED blue light causes oxidative damage in the skin by releasing 4-HNE

In the experiment, LED blue light evoked oxidative stress in keratinocytes, causing lipid peroxidation.  A very toxic by-product of lipid peroxidation, 4-HNE (4-hydroxy-2-nonenal), is formed. This oxidative stress biomarker alters important biomolecules, including proteins, DNA, phospholipids.

This toxic compound also accumulates in skin exposed to UVB radiation and in normally aged skin. It is therefore reasonable to assume that LED blue light accelerates skin aging.

LED blue light also damages the mitochondria. Since these are a major producer of reactive oxygen compounds, oxidative stress is further boosted.


Oxidative stress by LED blue light leads to protein damage in dermis and epidermis

The experimental study was able to show that LED-emitted blue light increases the concentration of carbonylated proteins in the dermis and nitrotyrosine in the epidermis. Carbonylated proteins and nitrotyrosine are produced by ROS after irradiation of the skin with blue light as biomarkers of oxidative and nitrosative stress, respectively, and indicate tissue damage. LED blue light not only leads to the formation of ROS, but probably also stimulates NO production. Nitrogen is produced in the skin after defense mechanisms are triggered, which could explain the accumulation of nitrotyrosine. Nitrotyrosine is formed when tyrosine and tyrosine residues in proteins are attacked by reactive nitrogen and oxygen species.

Thus, the skin experiences oxidative and nitrosative stress from blue light exposure. LED blue light can therefore cause the same damage to the skin as UVB radiation, which leads to increased levels of nitrotyrosine and carbonylated proteins.


LED blue light causes skin damage by overexpression of MMP-1 and protein oxidation

MMP-1 is a matrix metalloprotease, an enzyme responsible for the degradation of the extracellular matrix during chronological skin aging. It is expressed mainly by keratinocytes and fibroblasts with substrates of collagen type I and III.

It is well documented that UVA and UVB rays increase the formation of MMP-1 and promote light-induced skin aging and skin cancer. The altered collagen loses its water-binding capacity; consequently, the skin loses its plumpness and becomes wrinkled.

LED blue light with an emission spectrum like everyday LED devices (420-480nm with a peak at 450-453nm) led to overexpression of MMP-1 and skin damage in experiments.


Conclusion: LED blue light damages the skin and makes it age faster

LED blue light and natural blue light have a similar effect on the skin as UVB rays and promote premature skin aging. The skin should therefore be protected from blue light in the same way as from UV light.


Cosmetics to protect against blue light

Anti-blue light cosmetics are a new category of cosmetics designed to reduce the effects of blue light on the skin. These products often contain certain ingredients, such as vitamins C and E, that can help protect the skin from the harmful effects of blue light. There are also special formulas designed to protect the skin from UV radiation and minimize the appearance of pigmentation spots. Anti-blue light cosmetic products are still relatively new and their effectiveness has not yet been fully studied.

For more exciting information about Anti-Blue Light cosmetics, feel free to check here!

In the experimental study on the effect of LED blue light on skin, an extract from Lespedeza capitata (LCE) leaves was shown to protect keratinocytes and skin explants from LED blue light damage. In the experiment, the LCE extract decreased the formation of ROS, 4-HNE, carbonylated proteins, nitrotyrosine, and MMP-1.


PROFILE: Bush Clover

INCI: Lespedeza Capitata Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract

CAS No. 84837-05-8

Other names: Roundhead Lespedeza, Roundhead Bush Clover, Bush Clover.


The results in detail:

To protect cells from the formation of ROS, LCE plant extract at a concentration of 1% proved to be effective. It acted on keratinocytes for 24 hours before irradiation with blue light. It is likely that LCE acts by activating endogenous protective systems by stimulating protein expression of a transcription factor that regulates the adaptive response to oxidants and is essential for skin resistance to oxidative stress.

To protect the skin from the release of 4-HNE, the plant extract LCE was used in 3% concentration. After exposure to LED blue light, the amount of 4-HNE was significantly reduced.

At a concentration of 3%, the plant extract LCE reduced the accumulation of two markers of oxidative and nitrosative stress, respectively.

Application of LCE plant extract before and after blue light exposure decreased MMP-1 overexpression.


Here you can see other active ingredients that also minimise the effects of blue light on the skin:

iACTIVE Blue LightKimiKa, LLC Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract
BLUE OléoactifHallstarGlycine Soja (Soybean) Oil , Polyglyceryl-3 Diisostearate , Oryza Sativa (Rice) Extract , Oryza Sativa (Rice) Germ Extract
Urbluray MSShanghai JAKA(GREAF) Biotech Co., Ltd.Butylene Glycol , Aqua , Medicago Sativa (Alfalfa) Extract
Synastol TCSytheonTerminalia Chebula Fruit Extract
Lumicease blue ingredientLipotec S.A.U.Glycerin , Aqua , Hydrolyzed Pea Protein , Glucose , Sodium Chloride , Sodium Succinate
Ciste'MBASFMaltodextrin , Cistus Monspeliensis Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract
SakadikiumSEPPICGlycerin , Aqua , Hedychium Coronarium Root Extract
Redoxol S3MMP EuropeNordihydroguaiaretic Acid
AQUACERIAGSI Europe - Import + Export GmbHSodium Metaphosphate , Aqua
SpecPure Aqua GBESpec-Chem Industry IncGinkgo Biloba Leaf Extract
LingostemProvitalAqua , Glycerin , Vaccinium Vitis-Idaea Fruit Extract , Xanthan Gum , Sodium Benzoate , Citric Acid , Gluconolactone , Calcium Gluconate
IBR-UrbiotectLucas Meyer CosmeticsAqua , Glycerin , Inula Helenium Extract
SymVital MADASymriseZingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Extract
ARABIAN COTTONVytrus BiotechGlycerin , Gossypium Herbaceum (Cotton) Seed Extract , Citric Acid
ECTOinOILbitopAqua , Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside , Propanediol , Ectoin
ecofarm BILBERRY LEAF-GICHIMARU PHARCOS CO., LTD.Vaccinium Myrtillus Leaf Extract
CarotolinoLipoid Kosmetik AGCanola Oil , Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot) Seed Oil , Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot) Root Extract , Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil , Tocopheryl Acetate , Beta-Carotene
Bioyouth-BLC Bluelight CareBloomage Biotechnology Corp., Ltd.Ectoin , Trehalose , Tropaeolum Majus Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract , Ergothioneine , Tricholoma Matsutake Mycelium Ferment Extract , Sodium Hyaluronate , Hydrolyzed Sodium Hyaluronate , Sodium Polyglutamate
SOLIBERINEGreentechAqua , Propanediol , Buddleja Officinalis Flower Extract
Arganyl LS 9781BASFAqua , Glycerin , Argania Spinosa Leaf Extract
CUREBERRYICHIMARU PHARCOS CO., LTD.Butylene Glycol , Aqua , Vaccinium Myrtillus Leaf Extract
Bicotene NaturalBicosome SLAqua , Lecithin , Hydrogenated Phosphatidylcholine , Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot) Root Extract , Beta-Carotene
GinsenoLite - GInnovacosGlycerin , Aqua , Panax Ginseng Root Extract
ArctalisLipoTrue, S.L.Pseudoalteromonas Ferment Extract
Plant C - Stem Vigna RadiataInnovacosGlycerin , Aqua , Phaseolus Radiatus Meristem Cell Culture Extract
SUN'ALGGelymaPongamia Glabra Seed Oil , Dunaliella Salina Extract , Haematococcus Pluvialis Extract
ANTILEUKINE 6SEPPICCaprylic/Capric Triglyceride , Laminaria Ochroleuca Extract
α-LupalineLaboratoires ExpanscienceLupinus Albus Seed Oil , Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Oil Unsaponifiables
Ectoin naturalbitopEctoin
BicomideBicosome SLAqua , Lecithin , Niacinamide , Lysolecithin
Bicoalgae ω3 (Omega-3)Bicosome SLAqua , Phosphatidylcholine , Glycerin , Isochrysis Galbana Extract , Nannochloropsis Gaditana Extract
Bicoalgae XTBicosome SLAqua , Phosphatidylcholine , Glycerin , Haematococcus Pluvialis Extract
Biollagen FQ6Jiangsu Jland Biotech Co., Ltd.Sodium Hyaluronate , sh-Polypeptide-123 , Mannitol , Copper Tripeptide-1 , Trehalose , Pullulan
PEPHA-AGE CBDSM Personal CareScenedesmus Rubescens Extract , Pentylene Glycol , Citric Acid , Aqua
Sensolene Light ETHallstarEthyl Olivate , Olea Europaea (Olive) Leaf Extract
TEGO Pep UPEvonik – Personal CareTetrapeptide-4 , Glycerin , Aqua
TEGO TurmeroneEvonik – Personal CareCurcuma Longa (Turmeric) Root Extract


Cosmacon develops latest LED blue light protection

Cosmacon follows the current findings on the effects of blue light on the skin and the development of efficient active ingredients to protect the skin. We offer you advice based on the latest scientific findings. Just contact us, we will be happy to advise you!




Direct and Indirect Effects of Blue Light Exposure on Skin: A Review of Published Literature.; Suitthimeathegorn O, Yang C, Ma Y, Liu W.Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2022; 35(6):305-318.

The impact of blue light and digital screens on the skin.; Kumari J, Das K, Babaei M, Rokni GR, Goldust M.J Cosmet Dermatol. 2023.

Langwelliges LED-Blaulicht  schädigt menschliche Haut.; H. Chajra, D. Garandeau, F. Joly, M. Frechet. Sofw Journal. 2020; 1/2

Anti-oxidant activity of avicularin and isovitexin from Lespedeza cuneata.; J. S. Lee, A. Y. Lee, N. G. Quilantang, P. J. L. Geraldino, E. J. Cho, S. Lee. J Appl Biol Chem (2019) 62(2), 143-147.