Turns out the sun isn’t the only culprit when it comes to causing skin damage!
We’ve made progress. You and I. We’ve bought sunscreens with SPF 30 or above, and actually use them before stepping out of the house. Great! However, given the fact that we’ve sat at homes for the most part of 2020, and continue to WFH this year as well—it’s only human naivety to feel that our skin has some sort of protection—from external stressors like the sun and pollutants. Sorry to collectively burst (y)our bubble—this is only partially true: We are overlooking our exposure to blue light. What fresh version of hell is this you ask? Read up to find out more….
WHAT IS BLUE LIGHT?
It’s not something we’ve made up from thin air! Blue light is also known as high-energy visible (HEV) light. Since the wavelength of HEV is longer than UV rays it is less intensive in action in the short term. Much like the ultraviolet rays of the sun, HEV too can produce free radicals that are harmful for the skin!
While the sun is the main source of blue light, our digital screens emit it too! Basically—TVs, laptops/desktops, smartphones and more! Celebrity Cosmetic Dermatologist and author of the bestselling book Skin Rules, Dr Jaishree Sharad, says, “Any digital screen that uses LED technology has high level blue light. Blue light is even present in the fluorescent/incandescent light bulbs we use at home.” Dang!
WHAT IT DOES
Let’s get straight to the facts.
▶ IT’S BAD FOR YOUR EYES AND SLEEP CYCLE
HEV harms the retina and reduces the production of melatonin—disrupting your sleep cycle. According to a recent article in the New York Times, ‘proximity is, of course, a factor when thinking about the danger’. ‘You’ll get less blue light from your TV than from your computer because it’s farther away. More light from your phone than your computer because your phone is so close to your face’.
▶ IT’S BAD NEWS FOR YOUR SKIN TOO
When your skin absorbs the blue light, it produces unstable oxygen molecules (free radicals) that damage the skin. Explains Dr Sharad, “Over exposure to blue light will lead to—hyperpigmentation, fine lines, uneven skin tone, dull skin, collagen degradation and early signs of ageing.” Blue light causes oxidative stress and destroys collagen—the protein that’s responsible for maintaining your skin’s elasticity and youthful appearance!
HOW CAN YOU PROTECT YOUR SKIN?
With everyone spending more time indoors and in front of the screens, protective measures against blue light are a must! Well, reducing screen time would have been ideal, but who are we kidding, right? The next best thing to do is to switch to ‘night mode’ or ‘night shift’ on your gadgets: This creates a warmer screen tone!
If possible, swap your regular LED bulbs with ones that emit less HEV.
Dr Sharad recommends wearing sunscreen even indoors. “Standard sunscreens will give you about 30 to 40 per cent protection from blue light. Sunscreens with ingredients like iron oxide, vitamin C and other antioxidants provide optimum protection. If you can’t find a sunscreen with all of the above ingredients—you could use a vitamin C serum and top it off with a regular sunscreen for added protection,” she adds.
Besides, you could even get eye glasses that have filters against HEV and filters or anti-glare screens for your other gadgets as well. Like they say, prevention is always better than cure!
[All Images Credit: Shutterstock]