We are well aware of the damage caused by UVA and UVB rays – it is drummed into us from such a young age, and although many choose to ignore it, the information is more than readily available. But how much have you read about HEV light, otherwise known as high-energy visible light or blue light? What if I told you that the light emitted from your computer screens, TVs, phones and tablets was prematurely ageing you? No, this is not the premise of a Black Mirror episode – this is something that many experts worldwide believe is actually happening…. AHHHHHHH!
What is blue light?
Blue light, or HEV light, is a form of visible light that is between 400 to 450 nanometres on the visible light spectrum. Blue light is a part of sunlight but we are near certain, due to research, that it does not contribute to the risk of skin cancer, whereas UVA and UVB rays do. You may have heard about its usage in LED light therapy before, where it is actually beneficial to the skin as it has anti-bacterial qualities. It is beneficial in this circumstance due to controlled usage – ie. for one hour a week once a week.
The issue is that we are being exposed to blue light near constantly these days. If we aren’t in front of the screen at work, we’re in front of it on the bus, at home, in the morning, in the evening… you must see my point by now.
Well, what does that mean? It means “screen face”. Now, there is not a lot of conclusive evidence out there on the effects of blue-light on the skin – some believe that it cannot cause intense damage to the skin, whereas others believe that it can come with an abundance of issues.
Overexposure of the skin to blue light is said to impair the skin’s barrier function, meaning that your skin is more susceptible to damage from free radicals which can cause premature ageing. Additionally, some have seen a correlation between pigment problems and blue light exposure.
What does one do to protect from “screen face”?
There are products out there that include HEV protection, usually alongside UVA and UVB protection already, but it is also set to be a big technology this year so I expect to see plenty of releases of HEV protection from the big brands.
Murad have an SPF that provides broad spectrum protection including protection from HEV light. I am a massive fan of Murad as a brand and Dr. Howard Murad, the founder, as a human, because Dr. Howard Murad believes in a lot of the same philosophies as I. When researching how to protect the skin from blue light, the brand looked into organisms known as extremophiles that can survive and live in extreme environments.
Technology advanced so quickly that we humans haven’t had a chance to catch up in terms of evolution, so it made sense for Murad to learn from organisms that have successfully adapted to different conditions.
Murad City Skin Age Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 50 (€59.50) uses an ingredient known as lutein to help to protect the skin from blue light. Well, what in the name of shkin is lutein? Lutein is something known as a carotenoid, an organic pigment made by plants and algae. Lutein is only made in plants, specifically leafy green ones – as if we needed another reason to love our leafy greens. It is a mineral sunscreen, rather than a chemical sunscreen, which provides a physical barrier from light.
In clinical studies, lutein has been proven to help protect the skin from visible light damage – inteeerestingly, it is known to also protect the retina when ingested.
Not only can you use lutein topically to battle off screen-related skin damage but interally also. Lutein is an ingredient in Advanced Nutrition Programme’s Skin Antioxidants supplement (€39.00) alongside vitamin A and green tea extract, which are known for their antioxidant properties.
Antioxidant protection is also thought to fend off the damage caused by our screens. Skinceuticals have CE Ferulic (€150.00) and Phloretin CF (approx. €130.00) antioxidant serums in their range as an extra mode of defense against light-related free radical damage. CE Ferulic contains vitamin C and E as well as ferulic acid, potent antioxidants, and is suited more towards the normal to dry-skinned amongst us and Phloretin CF contains phloretin, vitamin C and ferulic acid for the more oilier of us. The reason that vitamin E is omitted from Phloretin CF is due to the fact that vitamin E boosts ceramides (waxy lipids found in the skin), which Skinceuticals believes may clog pores.
Another option would be the Declaré Global Protection Serum (€59.50), which provides protection against the free radical damage that is caused by pollution and other environmental factors and HEV light too – I have used it and find it to be faaabulous.
If you are truly terrified of the damage that COULD be caused and want an additional mode of defense, you can find HEV-reducing screen protectors for your computer and phone online as well as HEV-protecting glasses to possibly help to lessen the damage caused to your peepers.
The Nerdie Recap:
- HEV light, otherwise known as high-energy visible light or blue light, may cause premature ageing and problems with pigmentation but results from research so far are not conclusive
- You can protect yourself from possible damage with reinforced products and antioxidants
In my opinion, it is much, much, much more important to protect from the damage caused by UVA and UVB light as these types of light can contribute to the risk of skin cancer. We are exposed to UVA or UVB light all the time – through windows, in the car and walking from our car to work. Unless you are living in a cave with no opening, you need to be wearing SPF all the time.
The SPF included in makeup is not enough, seeing as it is usually SPF 15 and you do not apply enough for it to be effective at blocking the sun’s rays. You need a broad spectrum SPF of preferably 30 to truly protect yourself and you need to be applying at least a shot glass full of it on your face. If you are in direct exposure to sunlight (ie. you are a construction worker or farmer), you need to be re-applying sunscreen to all exposed areas at least every two hours.