For starters, there are the common culprits, like sun exposure, exhaust emitted from cars, trucks, and trains, and pollution that all cause damage to our skin and bodies. But a somewhat new aging instigator now exists, and experts believe it to be detrimental to our skin. Known as blue light, or High Energy Visible Light (HEV Light), this short-wavelength light is on the blue end of the spectrum of visible light and released from smartphone and computer screens, overhead and indoor lighting and televisions. Unbeknownst to many, the sun also emanates blue light, so you’re technically being bombarded from all angles.
One of the most talked about negative aspects of blue light is potential eye damage, specifically in the form of cataracts and glaucoma. Research from the University of Toledo shows that blue light, “hits a molecule called retinal that triggers a cascade of reactions that could be toxic to the retina.”
But it’s not just the eyes that are harmed. A study in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology reports that the visible light can produce immediate changes in skin pigment that leads to long-term pigmentation, most notably in the form of often stubborn melasma. Other studies assess visible changes in the skin, like redness, as well as invisible ones, like free radical production, which can speed up the rate at which the body ages and initiate collagen and elastin breakdown. Research on blue light damage has led to an uptick in the use of protective antioxidants and ingredients, like polypodium leucotomos root, in beauty and nutraceutical products.
Because so many of us are in constant close contact with our reliable palm-sized devices, it’s becoming more commonplace for the effects of blue light exposure to be seen on the surface of the skin (although you can’t visibly see the light). There’s no denying that the amount of time we spend on our phones and computers and watching T.V. adds up to more blue light exposure than ever before. Light radiated from the sun coupled with HEV light released devices leaves us at even greater risk for damage.
As if that’s not enough, blue light is also said to be disruptive to a healthy circadian rhythm, which is our natural sleep-wake cycle. Although blue light can help regulate normal sleep patterns, too much exposure to it alters the natural levels of melatonin in our bodies. When melatonin levels are low, it can be hard to fall asleep. (On a side note, if you have trouble shutting off at the end of the day and falling asleep, we recommend Hush & Hush MindYourMind, a melatonin-free supplement that sets the stage for inner peace and restful sleep).
While the jury is still split as to just how much device-generated blue light exposure is needed for negative effects to be seen on the skin and body, as well as the frequency of exposure, we say it’s best to veer on the side of caution and protect yourself as much as possible. Sunscreen is non-negotiable, and it’s crucial to always protect your skin from the inside out and the outside in. Stockpile your anti-aging arsenal with these products that do your body good and protect against blue light damage.