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There is much anecdotal evidence that tanning, either by artificial light or sunlight, helps prevent acne. The drawback is that ultraviolet light can burn and damage skin cells. In my research on the web, I found that one form of medical treatment for acne is blue light therapy. It entails shining intense blue light on the skin for 30 minutes or so. The treatments are usually administered by a dermatologist, and they can be quite expensive. The range of wavelengths used is 440 nanometers down to 400 nanometers, which is the borderline of ultraviolet, which ranges from 400 nanometers down 180 nanometers. I suspect that some of the perceived benefit from tanning may be due to the blue light that is present in sunlight and from the lights used in tanning booths. In blue light therapy, the blue light acts upon an enzyme the p. acnes bacteria secrete, transforming it into a free radical that kills the bacteria.

It occurred to me that the benefit of blue light may be obtained, at no cost, by exposing the skin to sunlight that has been filtered to remove all or most of the ultraviolet rays. In searching the web, I found that polycarbonate, a material used in safety glasses, can filter out ultraviolet light, while allowing other wavelengths (colors) to pass through. Polycarbonate that conforms to ANSI Z87.1-1989 filters out 99% of ultraviolet radiation, both UV-A and UV-B. This material is available in face shields for laboratory and industrial use. Here is a link to the listing of a face shield that conforms to ANSI Z87.1-1989:


Wearing such a shield, it should not be necessary to apply sunscreen to the face, prior to sun exposure. Because the polycarbonate material is clear, it should allow blue light to pass through, while blocking ultraviolet, thus preventing sunburn. Eye protection should still be worn under the shield. Sunscreen should be applied to any exposed skin that is not protected by the face shield.

It also occurred to me that some scattering of blue light from the sun occurs in the atmosphere, hence the blue color of the sky. However, I expect the blue light that reaches the ground, both directly from the sun and indirectly from the sky, to be sufficiently intense to treat acne. Of course, that pertains to the case where the sky is clear and the angle of the sun is well above the horizon.

I don't think it would be realistic to expect blue light therapy alone to clear up a bad case of acne. It would have to be used in conjunction with a healthy diet and lifestyle. If anyone tries my suggestion, please post your results on this board.

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