Light can impact our skin and health in major ways. And, while sunlight might be the most well-known culprit of premature signs of aging, it is not the only one. The truth is, we probably spend less time in the sun than we do in front of the blue light. “Blue light is the typical light emitted from electronic devices, including our phones, computers, TVs and other electronic devices,” says Alissia Zenhausern, N.M.D. Thanks to the modern tech-savvy world we live in, exposure is unavoidable. And, unfortunately, many of us are exposed to unhealthy levels, aka blue light pollution.
What is blue light pollution?
Much like sunlight — UV rays — there is such a thing as too much blue light exposure. “Blue light pollution is the term coined for our excessive use of electronic devices that actually interfere with our body’s natural circadian rhythm [sleep cycle],” says Zenhausern.
While blue light pollution can have a detrimental impact on the sleep cycle — including triggering insomnia, fatigue and sleep disturbances — as well as cause eye strain and headaches, it can also wreak havoc on the complexion. And get this: It is very similar to that of the sun’s damaging UV rays.
How does it affect your skin?
In terms of skincare (and health), blue light is like a man-made version of the sun. But, unlike the sun, you can not just go inside or wait until nighttime to steer clear of its destructive path. “Blue light contains a certain type of wavelength (typically between 380 to 400 nanometers) that can actually damage the skin over time,” says Zenhausern.
“This doesn’t mean that using your phone at night for a few minutes will cause damage. However, if you do that every night or fall asleep with the TV on, you expose your skin and body to blue light at a much higher degree, [which] can be damaging,” she adds. As far as blue light skin damage goes, Zenhausern says it mostly causes a change in “color pigmentation, inflammation and can even cause premature aging.”
How can you reduce blue light exposure?
“There are many effective ways to help reduce your risk of light exposure. The easiest eliminating electronic devices at night, especially if the electronic device is the only form of light that is on,” says Zenhausern.
In terms of skincare, blue light is like a man-made version of the sun
Zenhausern suggests countering technology with technology — use software and apps specifically designed to reduce exposure. “F.lux [is] a free downloadable software that can help reduce the blue light exposure from your computer and phones,” she explains. “RedShift is another great app that helps adjust the color of your screen according to the position of the sun in your location,” she adds. And, since blue light does not just affect the skin, using glasses can also help reduce the impact that it has on your body. Zenhausern recommends using “glasses like Swanwick, which can be worn to reduce your blue light exposure while watching TV or when you are on your computer.” These glasses can be worn both during the day and at night and can help combat ailments like strain and headaches that are commonly associated with blue light.
Much like with the sun’s UV rays, the skin needs antioxidants to protect itself from blue light damage. However, not many antioxidants are up for the challenge. Lutein is one of the only carotenoids powerful enough to protect against the negative effects of blue light pollution. It is “an amazing antioxidant that helps protect your eyes from damage, including that caused by blue light from our computers and phones,” says Zenhausern.
In addition, a powerful SPF can keep your complexion protected both indoors and outdoors. The ingredient Xanthophyll is another plant-based carotenoid that accomplishes this by absorbing blue light. It is important to look for this in products that claim to be blue light blocking so you can ensure that your skin is properly safeguarded.
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