How Zoom University Can Mess With Your Skin

Catch me falling into a blue light blues.

( Samantha Reddit / Rowdy Magazine Online Writer )

Netflix binges, endless TikTok scrolls and online classes, oh my! Quarantine and social distancing really did a number on many of our screen times.


As if awkward Zoom silences and remote-work burnouts weren’t bad enough, apparently increased screen time is damaging our skin. Yeah, so that online lecture really does hurt.


Here’s Rowdy’s breakdown on how:


The Science


Blue light, also known as High Energy Visible (HEV) light, is what radiates from our electronic devices and indoor fluorescent lighting. Prolonged exposure to the light from computers, tablets, TVs, and smartphones can cause skin damage like discoloration, inflammation, and premature aging. Too much blue light may lead to more swelling, redness, and pigment changes for those with darker skin tones.


First, blue light breaks down your skin’s collagen and elastin (the proteins in your skin that keep it smooth, firm, and tight) by creating oxidative stress, while the pigment in your skin known as “flavin” absorbs blue light. Then, this chemical reaction creates unstable oxygen molecules, AKA free radicals, that wreak havoc on your complexion.


Sunlight is our main source of blue light, and digital devices only emanate a fraction of the sun’s radiation. However, we typically hold our phones and laptops much closer to us than other sources of blue light. So, you know how you’re holding your phone really close right now? That means you’re currently increasing your level of exposure.


The Solution


Although wearing sunblock on a daily basis is a great skincare habit, sunscreens typically protect against ultraviolet A and B (UVA/UVB) rays. This means they don't usually do much to protect your skin from blue-light rays unless they contain iron oxide, which helps deflect visible light rays.


Try looking for serums that are packed with antioxidants. Antioxidants have been recommended for defending skin from the visible effects of airborne pollutants, sun damage, and, you guessed it, harmful blue light rays.


Eating an antioxidant-rich diet can also give a boost to your skin’s defense against oxidative damage. Fill your grocery cart with berries, avocados, sweet potatoes, nuts, and leafy greens to look as good as you’ll feel!


Aside from skincare, you can always cover your phone or laptop with a blue light screen shield or use a “night mode” setting that tints your device’s display with a soothing yellow-toned light. Blue light has been a commonly known disruptor of beauty sleep as it disturbs our natural circadian rhythm. So, not only will reducing blue light exposure be easier on your eyes and your skin, but it will likely help improve the quality of your sleep too. Talk about a win-win-win!


Shedding Light on Some Helpful Products


Supergoop’s Unseen Sunscreen has been a top choice by the skincare community for its use of red algae pigments that help absorb blue light emitted by electronic devices. For fans of clean beauty, this product is vegan, cruelty-free, reef-safe, and gluten-free. It’s also water and sweat resistant – perfect for Florida natives like myself.





Dermalogica’s Invisible Physical Defense sunscreen is another popular choice since its for being lightweight and safe for those with sensitive skin. It contains zinc oxide for blue light protection, as well as green tea for antioxidants. Make sure to apply after moisturizing and before sun exposure for maximum effectiveness.


As an avid user of La Roche-Posay, I’d also recommend trying out its Anthelios HA Mineral Moisturizer. It offers broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection with antioxidants and is suitable for all skin types.


As for your evening routine, I love the Antioxidant Facial Oil by Mad Hippie. It’s a cruelty-free, preservative-free, vegan vitamin cocktail for your skin. I like to use this oil after all other lotions and serums to lock in all the moisturizing goodness.





I’m also a big fan of The Ordinary for being no-nonsense, affordable, and transparent about their ingredients. The Ordinary’s Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% is another great antioxidant addition to any nighttime skin routine. It’s best when applied after water-based serums and before heavier creams or lotions.




As a parting thought, don’t forget to step away from the screens every once in a while. It’s definitely easy for me to get tunnel-vision while typing away at my laptop or being sucked into an endless loop of opening and closing the same four apps. I think we could all use a reminder or two to step away from our devices to stretch, go for a short walk, make a smoothie, or any action that brings us into touch with reality.