We’ve all probably heard by this point that prolonged exposure to electronic devices is bad for our health. Blue light, a high-energy, short-wavelength form of visible light, is emitted by our digital devices, adding to the list of negative psychological effects of prolonged screen time. This has its effects, too—to start, a review in the International Journal of Ophthalmology suggested this light can easily pass through your eyes’ protective layers to cause damage that may contribute to dry eye, cataracts and macular degeneration.
Studies published in Chronobiology International confirm that exposure to blue light in the evenings negatively affects melatonin production and, by extension, the quality of one’s night’s sleep. Hours spent hunched over a laptop or tablet increase the risk of developing back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, and hand and wrist pain due to overuse injuries and poor posture. (Trust us, we understand.)
In fact, that’s not even everything. It has come to the attention of scientists that blue light can be harmful to the skin.
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Blue light’s most noticeable effect on your skin
The skin is not impervious to blue light’s deep penetration. Blue light, like ultraviolet (UV) light, is thought to cause damage over time, according to early research. This is according to board-certified dermatologist Rebecca Marcus, MD. Dr. Marcus tells The Healthy @Reader’s Digest that while the effects may not be immediately apparent, UV rays are likely a long-term contributor to collagen breakdown, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation.
Blue light exposure leads to free radical formation, a process called “oxidative stress,” according to a study published in Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity. As a result, DNA is broken, as Dr. Marcus explains.
Because of this damage, the proteins collagen and elastin—which are responsible for the skin’s elasticity and firmness—break down and the skin loses its youthful plumpness and elasticity.
In addition, studies published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology suggested that exposure to blue light may hasten the aging process of the skin, cause or exacerbate pigmentation issues, and make conditions like melasma more difficult to treat. According to a review article published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, prolonged exposure may also cause your skin’s barrier to become compromised. Problems like dryness, redness, and acne breakouts are more likely to occur as a result of this.
In summary, existing evidence suggests that prolonged exposure to blue light without proper protection can hasten the onset of skin aging and aging-related issues like sagging, wrinkles, pigmentation, and sensitivity.
Experts in the field of dermatology agree that this anti-aging ingredient from the 1970s is still superior to all others.
I’d like to know how to shield my skin from the damaging effects of blue light.
It may be more practical to find ways to mitigate this effect rather than to alter our actions. It’s also good to know that there’s no harm in protecting your skin from blue light exposure while studies are still being conducted.
A good sunscreen should be your first line of defense when it comes to protecting your skin. Zinc oxide and iron oxide are two ingredients to look for in a broad-spectrum physical sunscreen, as recommended by Dr. Marcus. Zinc oxide and iron oxide, the active ingredients in many physical sunscreens, physically shield the skin from a wide spectrum of light, including blue light, while chemical sunscreens only protect against UVA and UVB light.
Even if you’re not going to be going outside, you should still apply sunscreen every day. Dr. Marcus explains that “blue light is the same whether it comes from the sun or our screens,” which is why it’s important to wear protective clothing when spending time outdoors or near windows. Thus, if you don’t use sunscreen even when indoors, you have no defense against the blue light your screen emits.
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Some essential skin care product ingredients are also recommended to have on hand. Dr. Marcus says antioxidants can protect against oxidative stress by eliminating harmful free radicals. If you want to avoid hyperpigmentation as well as wrinkles, look for antioxidants like vitamin C. (We polled dermatologists to find out which vitamin C serums they recommend getting you started.)
Niacinamide, which is a type of vitamin B-3, is another ingredient she suggests for skin care. In addition to its anti-inflammatory properties, this antioxidant has been shown to strengthen the skin’s protective barrier, enhance its appearance in terms of texture and tone, and diminish the appearance of fine lines.
Moreover, it may prevent blue light-induced skin pigmentation, according to research published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science in 2020. Find out why and how niacinamide can help your skin by reading this in-depth article.
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Research Finds That Blue Light Can Have Negative Effects on Your Skin originally appeared on The Healthy.
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