I was roaming the aisles of Ulta last week when I noticed a plethora of products dedicated to undoing the damage brought on by blue light exposure. I’m aware blue light from our screens isn’t the best, but I figured utilizing blue light glasses was good enough. However, I didn’t know we needed to use blue light-blocking skincare products in our skincare routine on a regular basis. In that moment, I couldn’t help but wonder how blue light affects our hair. If it’s this bad for the skin, is it equally as dangerous to our strands and scalp? Should we be using blue light-blocking shampoo and conditioner? Are there sprays that will minimize harmful blue light effects?
Needless to say, my curiosity got the best of me and I couldn’t shake these questions. A quick Google search didn’t produce the results I was looking for, so I reached out to UK-based trichologist Kate Holden to get my questions answered. She was kind enough to give me the lowdown on blue light and the impact it has on our hair. Keep scrolling to read what she had to share!
How Does Blue Light Affect Hair?
Blue light affects our hair in a variety of different ways, yet it’s not as direct as you would expect.
“The link between blue light exposure and hair is less direct; we know that blue light suppresses the release of melatonin, which can cause issues with our sleep if we are exposed to too much blue light before bed,” Kate says. “Sleep deprivation can affect your overall health, and can cause a temporary hair loss condition called telogen effluvium (TE). It may even exacerbate hereditary hair loss.”
What you may be surprised to know (I know I was) is that blue light exposure is actually good for our strands. Shocking, right? Kate shares that “blue light is needed for good health generally, as it makes us feel alert and improves our attention. It’s only a problem if we are exposed to blue light at night.”
How Is Blue Light Therapy for Hair Loss Different Than Being Exposed to Blue Light Via Screens?
But what about blue light therapy? Isn’t that used as a treatment for hair loss? Indeed it is. And wouldn’t you know, it’s the same type of blue light. Kate can take it from here.
“Phototherapy is used often in the treatment of hair loss,” she says. “We tend to use infrared (red light) wavelengths to treat hair loss, but there have been a couple of studies suggesting that blue light can help hair growth too. The blue light is the same, but it’s about when you’re exposed to it and for how long. I wouldn’t suggest that holding your phone up to your hair will help with hair growth though.”
How Can You Minimize the Effects of Blue Light?
To maintain optimal levels of blue light exposure, Kate suggests “you limit blue light as much as possible two to three hours before bed. You can also utilize the night mode settings in your smartphone to filter out blue light at night.”
As it turns out, blue light isn’t all that bad. More than anything, it comes down to when you’re exposed to blue light. So if you absolutely have to use your phone during the evening, take the necessary precautions. And no, sadly, scrolling endlessly through TikTok until you fall asleep doesn’t count as a necessity. Trust me, I wish it did.