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Study Examines Iron Oxide for Blue Light Skin Protection


Results show iron oxide provides high energy visible light protection in products formulated with iron oxides.

Ultraviolet radiation may be the main cause of aging skin, but concerns exist about the effects high‐energy visible (HEV) light (400 nm to 500 nm) has on skin, and current research is scant.

With the knowledge that iron oxides (red, Fe2O3; yellow, Fe(OH)3/FeOOH; and black, Fe3O4) effectively block HEV light using different attenuation profiles, Colorscience, Inc. (Carlsbad, Calif.) included these ingredients in certain product formulations for enhanced skin protection.

To advance the HEV body of knowledge, researchers recently published clinical trial results in The Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, which assess iron oxide efficacy for blocking HEV (Blue Light) as part of specific skincare product formulas.

To examine ingredient efficacy, study authors, Eric Bernstein, MD, Harry W. Sarkas, PhD, and Patricia Boland, BA, measured the amount of HEV light attenuation from 400 nm to 490 nm in vitro with diffuse transmittance spectroscopy using a Perkin Elmer Lambda 750/UV/VIS/NIR Spectrophotometer. They found that several Colorscience products (All Calm® Clinical Redness Corrector SPF 50, Even Up® Clinical Pigment Perfector SPF50, and Total Eye® 3-in-1 Renewal Therapy SPF 35) resulted in 71.9% to 85.6% HEV light attenuation across the tested wavelengths (415 nm to 465 nm).

All three products are formulated with zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, and iron oxides, which results suggest, provide enhanced blue light protection. Furthermore, results show this combination of ingredients is safe, effective, and environmentally friendly in the quest to protect against HEV.

“My entire career has been laser-focused on the use of lasers in medicine and the study of sunlight,” says Dr. Bernstein in the press release. “One thing I’ve learned all too well is that sunlight causes a range of problems for our skin including: fine lines and wrinkles, enlarged pores, redness, pigmentation, skin sagging, and skin cancer. Visible blue light is the most energetic, and therefore the most damaging light, to reach our skin and penetrates more deeply than ultraviolet rays. I have been interested, for many years, in ways to protect skin against all wavelengths of light. This research is important because it shows that skin care [sic] products formulated with iron oxides, combined with mineral sunscreen actives and other ingredients, effectively shield skin against harmful, high-energy, visible wavelengths.”


Bernstein EF, Sarkas HW, Boland P. Iron oxides in novel skin care formulations attenuate blue light for enhanced protection against skin damage. J Cosmet Dermatol. Published online November 18, 2020:jocd.13803.

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