Now that most of us are experiencing what it’s like to work from home for the first time, it’s important to understand the health effects that staring at a screen for a majority of the day can have. We’re all aware of the fact that staying on the internet for too long can have detrimental effects to your mental health, and how the blue light that’s emitted from our screens can cause us to lose sleep and stay engaged online for longer, however, did you also know that the same blue light can take a toll on your skin?
“Blue light, or high-energy visible (HEV) light, is primarily from the sun, but it’s also emitted by our phone, tablet, and computer screens. While blue light can at times be beneficial, like for killing bacteria and treating acne, being exposed to too much of it can also prompt the formation of free radicals, which break down collagen and cause inflammation, leading to redness, dark spots, and wrinkles. It can also darken hyper-pigmentation, especially in deeper skin tones, so it’s important to protect skin from its powers in the same way we do from the sun,” explains dermatologist Deanne Robinson, MD.
One of the easiest solutions to combat the blue light that’s absorbed into our skin is making sure you’re ingesting enough antioxidants and, surprisingly, broad-spectrum sunscreen. No matter what you should always be putting on sunscreen/SPF every day especially in the morning. Even though you might not go outside throughout the day, especially during this pandemic, SPF’s help improve your skin’s hyper-pigmentation, prevents premature aging, and now, protects your skin barrier from blue light absorption.
In terms of ingesting antioxidants, Dr. Robinson explains that “antioxidants do not physically block the light, rather they work to neutralize oxidative stress caused by the light.” Basically, your skin gets “stressed out” the longer you look at blue light, which leads to all of those detrimental effects, so antioxidants may not stop the blue light from absorbing into your skin, but it will stop your skin from reacting negatively to the light.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, “most of the blue light we’re exposed to comes from the sun, but as research continues to show, we are spending more than half of our waking hours interacting with devices and are therefore exposed to more blue light now than at any other point in history. Luckily, there are plenty of products that provide blue light protection and help shield skin from its harmful effects.”
Some of these products that the AAO is referring to involve skin serums, sunscreens and moisturizers that are designed to combat negative effects caused by blue light exposure. Serums or other skin care products that have hyaluronic acid are extremely beneficial for this as well. Hyaluronic acid is an amazing way to hydrate your skin in general, and it should be a part of your skin care routine anyway, but one of the many benefits of it is that it hydrates your skin immensely. When your skin is properly hydrated, it’s less likely to “stress,” and remember, there’s no such thing as “over-hydrating” your skin, so be generous.
When looking for a sunscreen you want to choose a formula that’s described as “broad-spectrum,” has minerals, and has an SPF of at least 30. Broad-spectrum means it protects your skin from multiple kinds of light (such as blue) and the minerals will give your skin a direct hit of antioxidants as well.
Skin care may be the last thing on some of our minds, but just because we’re not out in public everyday doesn’t mean that our skin’s health needs to suffer too, so what are you waiting for? Stop reading this and go put on some sunscreen!
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.