We have educated ourselves on how damaging UVA and UVB rays can be to our skin. Sun exposure is one of the prime reasons of pre-mature skin ageing and it can be responsible for as much as 90% of the effects. Wearing SPF daily is known to reduce the risk of skin cancer and prevent signs of ageing, as it protects the skin from the harmful effects of UVA and UVB, but there is a new kid on the block that we need to watch out for: blue light.
“Our skin can suffer visible changes, such as increased pigmentation, loss of elasticity and inflammation”
Also referred to as HEV (High Energy Visible) light, blue light comes from both the Sun and the devices that we use daily. Phones, tablets, computers, you name it – looking at a screen for hours has been proven to be just as harmful to the skin as 20 minutes spent in the mid-day sun, Dr. Murad, who is the renowned dermatologist behind Murad Skincare, tells Bazaar. The LED back-light technology that helps with screen brightness and clarity emits strong blue light waves, according to Blue Light Exposed. The sun is still the main source of blue light we are exposed to, but we are increasingly seeing the effects coming from the short-wavelength light emitted by our screens, which has visibly damaging effects on both the skin and the eyes. Meenakashi Gupta, assistant Professor of Ophthalmology from New York City told Allure that blue light is not entirely bad, as it contributes to regulating the body’s circulation pace, helps elevate mood and enhances our cognitive function. Dermatologists still advise that, despite our exposure to it being inevitable, our skin can suffer visible changes, such as increased pigmentation, loss of elasticity and redness/inflammation. Dermatologist Dr. Stefanie Williams told Bazaar that ‘blue light has the ability to penetrate deeper into the skin, compared to both UVA and UVB light… It can penetrate all the way into the dermis, where our collagen and elastin live’. The loss of collagen alone, an amino-acid protein that helps maintain skin’s firmness, leads to decreased skin elasticity and sagging. Elastin is also a major protein component that helps skin maintain its original position, so the loss of it contributes to the appearance of visible signs of ageing.
If you are wearing sun protection everyday (which if you aren’t, what are you doing?!), you’ll be disappointed to hear that most SPFs do not help protect against the effects of blue light. Dr. Ainah Tan told Byrdie that formulas containing iron oxide are the ones that shield the skin against visible light. Dr. Gary Goldfaden, who stands behind the brand Goldfaden MD, told Women’s Health that ‘the best way to protect against or repair environmentally or digitally damaged skin is to use an anti-pollution-based skincare regime’. With that in mind, we have rounded up some of the best SPFs below that will double up as blue light defence for the digitally disturbed…
When you are done with gazing at screens for the day, help your skin come back to life – you want to be looking for both products that are soothing and formulas that help combat hyperpigmentation. Topical antioxidants such as Vitamin C are known to mildly counteract the effects of HEV light exposure, whilst introducing exfoliating acids into your routine can help with discolouration as they promote brighter-looking skin.