While the effects of UVA and UVB light on our skin are widely known and discussed, there are various other types of light that reach our face on a daily basis – and skincare science has shown some of these to be detrimental to our skin. One of those types of light is high energy visible light or HEV light. This is part of the daylight spectrum and also encompasses the blue light from our beloved phones, tablets, and computer screens.
Blue light has a short, high-energy wavelength that can deeply penetrate the skin, even more so than UV rays, as we’re so close to the source.
So, what damage are our phone screens doing to our skin, and what can you do to minimise the risks?
What is blue light doing to your skin?
Research has found that excessive exposure to blue light can cause skin damage, including pigmentation, and often much deeper pigmentation than that caused by UV light. It is also responsible for inflammation, premature ageing, fine lines and wrinkles and weakening of the skin’s barrier functions.
Our skin is photosensitive, which means that light triggers reactions and one of those reactions believed to be triggered by blue light is oxidative stress which promotes extrinsic skin ageing. I have noticed many of my younger patients are experiencing skin issues that are usually associated with older skin, such as fine lines, uneven skin tone and pigmentation. This isn’t surprising for a generation that is constantly plugged in.
As well as the skin, blue light also affects our eyes and can lead to premature age-related macular degeneration – an incurable condition that can lead to vision loss.
What can you do to protect your skin?
Of course, it’s unlikely that we will undergo a digital detox or reduce the amount of time that we spend on our devices anytime soon. Still, thankfully, there is a myriad of options that can help prevent HEVL skin damage.
Daily sun protection
Yes, daily sun protection is essential, but you should also lookout for a sunscreen that is a blue light specific sunscreen. Different filters are essential for blue light – iron oxide is a great option. You should wear that sunscreen every day, even if it’s cloudy outside and even if you’re staying indoors. I always say that if you don’t need a torch to see, you should be wearing sunscreen.
Antioxidants help protect the skin against oxidative stress, which is one of the adverse effects of blue light. They neutralise the free-radical damage and melanocyte production that leads to pigmentation. Look for products such as the Revision Skincare C+ Correcting Complex, which is specially formulated to defend and correct the skin-damaging effects of free radicals generated by Urban Dust and High Energy Visible light (HEV or blue light).
As an added layer of protection, I use screen filters on all my devices from a great brand called Ocushield. They’re medically rated screen protectors that have been developed by qualified optometrists and effectively block up to 99% of harmful UV & blue light emissions. I have noticed a significant difference in the quality of my sleep since I’ve started using them, and I know that my eyes are being protected as well as my skin.