It has been more than a year and we all find ourselves mostly staying at home, in front of a screen - be it our mobiles, laptops, computers, or TVs. While this clearly is the new normal for most of us, there are certain things we need to be a little careful about. One of them is blue light and the effect that it can have on your skin.
What is blue light?
Blue light is one of the lights of the visible spectrum (VIBGYOR). It is emitted by your smartphones, laptops, computer, tablets, TVs and other devices with screens. Fluorescent and LED light bulbs also give off blue light. It is a high-energy short-wavelength light. We also get blue light from the sun.
Given how much time we all spend staring at screens, we are exposing ourselves to quite a bit of blue light and that is a problem for our skin.
What does blue light do to your skin?
1. Speeds Up Skin’s Ageing Process
Turns out, blue light is a lot like your UVA and UVB rays. In fact, blue light penetrates your skin even deeper than UV rays, all the way to your dermis which contains proteins such as Collagen and Elastin, and can negatively affect your skin cells, causing cell shrinkage. This speeds up your skin’s ageing process. There is also a connection between blue light and the production of free radicals in your skin, which also contributes to the skin ageing process.
2. Can Lead to Pigmentation
Another aspect of excessive exposure to blue light is the increased risk of pigmentation. Blue light can induce both immediate and persistent pigmentation in the skin.
3. Dry Eyes
Exposure to excessive blue light can cause eye strain and dry eyes too. Dry eyes are a condition in which the eyes are not lubricated enough. When actively staring at a screen, we do not blink as much as we should and this causes dryness. To avoid this, try to take a break every 20 to 30 minutes and give your eyes time to relax. If you wear glasses, consider investing in blue light filtering lenses.
How is your body affected by blue light?
1. Impacts your sleep cycle
If you have ever read about building a nighttime routine, chances are you have probably come across someone talking about limiting the use of electronic devices around 1 to 2 hours before bedtime. This is because blue light reduces the levels of melatonin, the sleep hormone, in your body. Melatonin also controls mitochondrial function and if melatonin production decreases, your body’s energy levels also go down. This is probably why a lot of us crave a hit of caffeine to wake us up in the morning even after sleeping for a sound 8 hours.
Not only this but blue light can also affect the natural circadian rhythm of your skin cells. So what happens is that your skin cells are tricked into thinking that it is really daytime and as a result, they do not undertake their natural nighttime repair process. This can further lead to signs of ageing and pigmentation issues.
2. Causes eye strain
Exposure to blue light is known to affect the photoreceptors in our eyes and causes the eyes to feel strained. Blue light can also result in conditions such as glaucoma and cataracts.
What is the Difference Between Blue Light Exposure from UV and Blue Light from Screens?
The sun is the biggest source of blue light that we are exposed to; digital devices only make up a fraction of the radiation. But here is the thing - our digital devices are quite close to us, as opposed to the sun. As a result, blue light UV is a lot more diffused and the blue light from our screens is more concentrated. Another point to note is that we are all using our electronic devices a lot more than usual, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So do not dismiss blue light from screens!
Is it all bad news?
By now you have probably come to the conclusion that blue light is bad news. But that is not entirely true. Exposure to blue light during the day can actually do a lot of good to your body. It boosts alertness and elevates the mood. It is all a matter of timing. The same thing that is bad for you during the night is great for you during the day because that is how our bodies are supposed to function. The problem is that we are receiving the same input during the day and night and that is what causes trouble.
In fact, blue light is also used as a skincare treatment for acne-prone and can help control breakouts.
How to protect your skin from blue light exposure?
While the easiest way to protect yourself from excessive blue light is to simply cut down your screen time, that is not always possible. So here are a few skincare ingredients that you should definitely incorporate into your skincare routine if you are not already.
1. Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide
If you are not wearing sunscreen daily, here is a gentle reminder to start immediately. Look for physical sunscreens that contain either Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide. These two compounds are great at physically blocking blue light from penetrating your skin. Chemical sunscreens, though they may help with UVA and UVB rays, are not that effective against blue light.
Ozone Signature's Natural Sun Protector is a great option. It contains both Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide as well as Aloe Vera, which is a great soothing and hydrating ingredient. Another great choice is Zyna’s Daily Defence Anti-Pollution Anti-Digital Aging Cream. It is an SPF 30 cream that contains Titanium Dioxide. The cream also contains Aloe and Chamomile extracts and is soothing and nourishing.
2. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is one of the most popular antioxidants and one of the most popular ingredients in skincare today and there is good reason for that. It protects the skin from oxidative stress due to free radicals, fights pigmentation, and stimulates collagen production in the skin. What’s not to love? The best part: vitamin C-based skincare can be in the form of a cleanser, serum, mist, ampoule, moisturiser, face oil, or face mask.
Skin Pot’s Intense Repair and Hydration serum is a great choice for all skin types. Rich in Vitamin C, Hyaluronic Acid, and Peptides, this one packs a punch and helps the skin look plump and radiant. You can check out our entire range of Vitamin C products on our website too.
3. Other Antioxidants
Besides vitamin C, antioxidants such as Green Tea, Vitamin E, White Tea, and Retinol among others provide great benefits and protection from blue light. Conscious Chemist’s Reboot Overnight Serum is a great option. It contains Bakuchiol, a natural alternative to Retinol. It also contains Peptides that strengthen and repair the skin and boost collagen production.
Niacinamide, like Vitamin C, is one of the most popular ingredients in skincare as well. It helps enhance the skin barrier, decongest pores, improves skin tone, softens fine lines and wrinkles, and brightens skin. This ingredient is suited to all skin types and is available across a wide variety of formulations.
4. Eyecare Essentials
Your under-eye area needs some tender loving care too so make sure to use an eye cream to let your tired under-eye recover and recuperate. You can opt for a lightweight under-eye oil such as the Rustic Art Invigorating Under-Eye Fluid. This antioxidant-rich lightweight oil nourishes the under-eye area without being too heavy. If you are looking for something more emollient and thicker, Ilana Organic’s Lush Eyes is the one for you. This eye cream and mask is enriched with Kiwi, Marula, Frankincense and Avocado oils. It is moisturising and de-puffing. What’s not to love?
Read more about eye care here.
Cutting down on your screen time
1. Get some Sun during the day
Setting your body clock right is essential for your overall health and wellbeing. In the morning, make sure you catch a glimpse of the sun - go for a walk or a run. Start the day right!
2. Polarised Sunglasses and Reading Glasses
Blue light is not limited to just your screens; the biggest source of it is the Sun so do not be under the assumption that you can do without protection if you are not looking at a screen. Invest in polarised sunglasses and blue light blocking reading glasses to keep your eyes protected at all times.
3. Take breaks
When we are working or studying, our attention is so focused on what we are doing that it is only after we leave the desk that we realise how strained and tired our eyes feel. To avoid this, take a short break every hour or so. Do light stretches and peel your eyes off a screen. Here are some exercises to help your eyes relax:
- Rub your palms together, warming them up. Close your eyes and gently cover them with your palms. Do not put too much pressure on your eyes. Hold this position for 5 minutes. Repeat if you like.
- You can also follow the 20-20-20 rule. This means taking a 20-second break every 20 minutes and focusing on something 20 feet away from you. This one helps a lot with eye strain.
4. Switch Night Mode on
Many smart devices have an option for a Night Mode which dims the screen and makes the display a little warmer, so as to help your eyes adapt. Make use of this feature. You will thank us later!
5. Limit Your Device Usage
Monitor your screen time on your phone and other devices and keep a check of how long you want to use them during the whole day. 1-2 hours before going to bed, make sure you do not expose yourself to blue light of any kind - or as little as possible.
6. Being More Mindful
Staring at a screen all day long, working long hours can be very stressful. Practice being more mindful and be sure to take some time out of your day to focus, re-align, and take a breather. Head over to our blog for more on how to live a more mindful and stress-free life.
Blue light is a high energy visible light that can trigger oxidative damage, cause pigmentation, and trigger inflammation in your skin. While the main source of blue light is the sun, we have all been spending a lot more time indoors and on our smart devices and are constantly exposed to blue light. Including antioxidant-rich products in our skincare, wearing sunscreen even when indoors, and spending some time apart from our devices is the key to our well being.
- Gauri Sindhu