Blue in the face
We all know blue light from our phones interferes with our sleep, but now it seems it’s damaging our skin too, says Hannah Coates
LURKING IN EVERY bedroom, gym and train carriage is a silent skin attacker. Blue or High Energy Visible (HEV) light is emitted from our digital screens – that includes phones, tablets, computers, TVS – and even energysaving lightbulbs. You may worry about being addicted to your screens, but have you ever thought about what the light they emit is actually doing to your skin? Probably not, but when you consider that we check our phones about 28 times a day – that’s more than once an hour – and spend on average 2.09 hours on them in every 24, it makes sense to question its effect. Grazia investigates...
THE DANGER ZONE
We already know that the sun’s UVA and UVB rays are the ultimate skin sinners, but blue light, which is both high in energy like UV and present in daylight, is also negatively impacting our skin. ‘It increases free-radical production by a dramatic 140%,’ says Dr Nadine Pernodet, vice president of Skin Biology & Bioactives at Estée Lauder, ‘so the oxidative damage to skin is going to be out of control.’ And
where there is oxidative damage, the hallmarks of ageing accelerate: fine lines, wrinkles, sallow skin, uneven tone, inflammation and loss of firmness.
A recent clinical study carried out by Skinceuticals shows that HEV increases pigmentation by 4.3% in light skins and a scary 18.1% in darker skin tones. Which means that while we’ve been ignorant of HEV damage even being a ‘thing’, it’s actually causing difficult-to-treat skin changes. ‘An excess of it can also cause various dermatologic conditions,’ says Linda Blahr, head of training and science at Skinceuticals. ‘ Think hives, chronic actinic dermatitis (a type of eczema) or other photoallergic skin reactions.’
BLUE BEAUTY SLEEP
The other reason we need to be wary of screens? Blue light affects our circadian rhythm, which governs when our bodies wake up and go to sleep and is influenced by the amount of light or darkness our cells are exposed to. ‘For example, your body knows that it needs to switch to night mode, a time for recovery, repair and regeneration, when it gets dark,’ explains Dr Pernodet, who has led extensive research in Estée Lauder’s blue LED light chamber to ascertain exactly what HEV does to our skin. ‘ What we’ve found is that when our skin cells are exposed to blue light, they don’t switch into night rhythm so they don’t repair themselves. That means that the accumulation of damage from the daytime doesn’t get removed and the presence of light also adds more damage to skin,’ she says. So essentially, the more we insist on falling asleep to that loop of episodes on Netflix, the less time our cells get to rejuvenate.