Human skin has been exposed to different levels of light for as long as we can remember. Interestingly, over time, due to the consequences of modern life, we are not exposed to adequate levels of natural light during the day, instead, we are overexposed to relatively high levels of artificial light at night. Exposure to light emitted from electronic devices on our skin cells, even in the case of short periods of time, can increase the generation of reactive oxygen species. Skin is a major target of oxidative stress and the link between ageing and oxidative stress is well documented. Current data shows that exposure to blue light can lead to different levels of damage in both our eyes and skin.
Blue light is everywhere. It is found in daylight, but also emitted by fluorescent lamps and LED devices like computer screens, TV and smartphones. Sunlight is the largest source of blue light to which we are exposed, and digital devices only emit a fraction of that radiation. But because we keep our phones so close to our face all day and check them constantly, this increases the risks. According to studies, millennials check their smartphones on average 157 times a day. That is more than five times as many as older adults, who check their phones on average only thirty times a day.
The potential long-term harms of visible light, and in particular blue light, on our skin, comes as we’re increasingly attached to our digital devices, as studies have also shown that we spend 50% of our lives staring at screens. Especially now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, when many of us have found ourselves spending more time indoors and in front of a monitor of sort than ever before. So, it’s important to understand the effects of blue light.
If you’re interested in preventing premature ageing, experts say that protection from UVA and UVB rays is no longer enough. Recent research also confirms that blue light – emitted from the sun and our digital devices – also contributes to the damage of our skin.
Blue light a.k.a High Energy Visible (HEV light) poses potential skin harm through free radical generation, experts explain, as blue light has been shown to induce oxidative stress in human skin. This can contribute to skin ageing, just like exposure to UVAs. In comparison, blue light, however, has the ability to penetrate the skin into a deeper level. In fact, it can reach all the way to our dermis, where the collagen and elastin are found.
What’s more blue light also compromises our beauty sleep by disrupting our natural circadian rhythm. Being exposed to significant amounts of blue light at night, for example, may affect the quality of your sleep. It’s because, it affects the level of melatonin, our sleep hormone.
Not only this, but research from Estée Lauder demonstrates that blue light exposure at night impacts the natural circadian rhythm of skin cells themselves. Their results indicate that exposure to blue light at night can throw skin’s natural circadian rhythm ‘out-of-sync’, causing skin cells to continue to ‘think’ it is daytime, impacting their natural nighttime repair process, which can lead to visible signs of ageing and even dark under-eye circles.
Before you change your skincare regime, simply, address your tech and cover your phones and computers with a blue light shield or set them up in favour of yellow light (often called ‘night mode’ or ‘nightshift’).
Applying topical antioxidants in the form of skincare, as well as eating a diet rich in antioxidants, like vegetables and fresh fruit, can boost our skin’s defence against oxidative environmental damage.
A good broad-spectrum SPF is highly recommended as well.
Whilst a safe dose of natural blue light exposure from the sun is recommended, most of the artificial blue light from our devices can cause numerous side effects to our skin, and even our overall health. And as such we recommend taking all the available advice into consideration so that you can protect yourself from additionally harming your skin and any other health issues that might be caused by the extended exposure to blue light.
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