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

Grazia (UK) - - Contents -

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...


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.’


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.

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