On average Americans spend about ten hours a day in front of a screen. That’s a lot of time in front of our smartphones, computer screens, and TVs! (Hello Netflix marathons!). Some blue light exposure is actually essential for us – it helps us maintain our circadian rhythms and positively impacts our mental alertness, memory and boosts our mood.
But as we know, you can have too much of a good thing. Overexposure to blue light can damage our retinas, keep us tossing and turning at night, and prematurely age our skin. So read on for the Bless guide to blue light defense skincare!
So, what is blue light anyway?
When we think about light rays (and light ray damage), we usually think about the sun. While it’s true that the sun is the largest emitter of blue light, because screens are so much closer to our faces than the sun it’s the screens that we should be concerned about. Blue light rays have the shortest wavelength and the highest energy of the spectrum. Most research about the impact of blue light a.k.a. HEV rays (short for high-energy visible rays) studies the impact of blue light on eye cells. Remember when your mom would tell you not to sit too close to the T.V.? Turns out she was onto something! As we increase our time spent around screens, and as more and more products go digital, we’re also increasing our long-term risk factor for exposure.
What’s the risk?
When you think of environmental damage, most people think of damage from air pollution or from the sun’s powerful UVA/UVB rays. Scientists posit that prolonged exposure to blue light rays, especially at close range, can accelerate aging and encourage dark spots. The primary pathway of damage comes from the generation of free radicals. Collagen and elastin, when exposed to free radicals, weaken and die, leaving your skin wrinkled and less resilient. Free radicals also damage our cells’ DNA, which puts us at risk for developing cancer. While there are no studies that say using your iPhone will give you cancer or cause your face to prune up, the risks increase with prolonged exposure.
So what do we do?
It’s not hopeless! Before you throw out your flat screen and trade your iPhone for a Nokia brick, read on. One of the best ways to limit blue light exposure is to use a blue light blocking screen (they even make blue light blocking eyeglasses!) or change the settings on your computer to adjust the levels of blue light. You can use the iOS feature Night Shift, or yes – there’s an app for that.
PS: Worried about blue light and other rays close to your face while you’re chatting away? Just use a headset, silly! Plus you’re less likely to break out your skin if you’re not holding your grimy phone screen against your cheek.
Blue Light Skincare
The name of the game when it comes to blue blight defense skincare is topical antioxidants. For a sunscreen that defends against atmospheric pollutants as well as UVA/UVB and HEV rays, look to Murad’s City Skin Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 50 PA++++.
One of the very first products on the market specifically designed to combat the effects of blue light is the Supreme Day Cream by Dr. Sebagh. This cream doesn’t contain SPF – instead, it works as an extra line of defense again HEV rays.
Other great face cream options include the La Defense Daily Moisturizer which neutralizes both blue light and environmental pollution, and the Elemis Daily Defense Shield SPF 30. For a budget-friendly blue light battling serum, I love the Resist Omega+ Complex Serum from Paula’s Choice.
Blue Light Makeup
Make your cosmetics do double duty! The Complexion Rescue Defense™Radiant Protective Veil from Bare Minerals is an all-in-one lightweight hydrating veil that protects your skin from indoor and outdoor light damage while evening your tone and boosting radiance. This product is formulated with cacao extract to protect against blue light, and sugar molecules to block pollution particles. Plus, it gives your skin an otherworldly, lit-from-within pearly glow.
If you’re already loyal to a foundation or BB cream, consider adding in a HEV ray-blocking primer. The Moonlight Primer by Make is specially formulated to shield against both HEV light and infrared light. This primer is formulated with a marine algae that protects against free radicals, pollution and heavy metals.
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