When outdoors the sun is the main source of blue light exposure to our skin but when indoors the biggest exposure comes from electronic devices. Blue light is the short-wavelength blue/violet band of the visible light spectrum. Researchers and dermatologists are increasingly looking at possible effects on skin from our daily use of electronic devices. The concern over blue light and skin care can be traced to recent research that showed changes in skin cells when exposed to blue light over a time period of only 60 minutes. Skin cells showed shrinkage and some died. Blue light may also cause collagen and elastin fibers to weaken and increase the production of free radicals, all factors that can speed up the aging of skin. Pigment changes, redness and swelling mostly in people with darker skin were observed. More research is needed to identify effects of blue light on skin. If you want to be cautious in protecting your skin against premature aging or other possible effects of blue light, here are some things to think about.
Watch your exposure
A recent survey revealed that the average American spends 11 hours daily exposed to digital media. That includes smartphones, which are usually held closely to the face; tablets, laptops, desktop computers and TV screens, all of which give off blue light. Stay aware of how much time you are spending and the distance between yourself and your devices.
Signs of too much exposure may include redness, swelling, early wrinkles and changes in pigmentation.
While there is no consensus on a safe threshold for time spent using electronic devices here are some ways to protect your skin from possible effects of blue light.
1. Wear a mineral sunscreen that contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to block blue light when in front of screens. Added antioxidants are a plus.
2. Use a hands-free phone that keeps the device at a distance from your face. This may involve a Bluetooth headset, earpiece, or voice activated device.
3. Cut down on your screen time. Take regular breaks.
4. Add screen protectors to your devices that block or dim blue light.
5. Reduce screen brightness. This is especially important at night if you want to get a good night sleep. Remember, sleep is good for your skin.
6. Apply skin care products that contain antioxidants (vitamin C). Antioxidants fight oxidative stress that visible blue light can cause.
Human skin has been exposed to lots of different light over the millennium. It is not fully known what long term biological effects frequent exposure to blue light might cause but premature aging of skin has been indicated in some research studies.
(photo: masha raymens | pexels)