In case you were wondering how much your screen time has increased since the Covid-19 lockdown began, just head to your Instagram Profile Activity and might be in for a shocker! Whether you’re browsing for news, scrolling through Instagram, FaceTiming family, binge-watching Netflix or even working on your laptop, screen time for everyone has shot up thanks to the lockdown. All of this has exposed us (and our skin in particular) to blue light damage, a phenomenon still unknown to many. But given that social distancing is slowly becoming the norm, we wanted to dig deeper into the harmful effects of blue light.
A quick chat with Medical Head of The AgeLess Clinic & Celebrity Skin Expert, Dr Harshna Bijlani helped us understand blue light damage and how you can prevent it a little better.
- What is blue light?
- How does blue light affect your skin?
- Can skincare prevent blue light damage?
- What are the ingredients that can protect you from blue light damage?
- Dr Harshna Bijlani’s pro tips on dealing with blue light damage
What is blue light?
Light comes in various spectrums and wavelengths. The visible light emitted from the sun ranges in the wavelengths of 390 nm to 700 nm. UVA and UVB, on the other hand, fall under invisible light but that doesn’t mean it isn’t damaging your skin, just because you can’t see it.
The latest controversial light in skincare is High-Energy Visible (HEV) Light or blue light, the wavelength of which ranges from 380 nm to 500 nm. “HEV Light is the light emitted from our cell phones, computer screens, certain types of light bulbs and so on and is now known for damaging to our skin health,” explains Dr Bijlani.
How does blue light affect your skin?
While we still need further studies to indicate the extent of the damage, various studies show evidence that supports its contribution to pigmentation in individuals who are susceptible to it.
“HEV light leads to skin damage in multiple ways, namely pigmentation, dark spots, free radical damage (free radicals are unstable molecules that can cause damage to our cells in the form of oxidative stress) and so on,” reveals Dr Bijlani, outlining the major effects of blue light exposure.
Blue light also affects your natural circadian rhythm and melatonin levels, leading to a disrupted beauty sleep cycle and further stress. For context, four days in front of a laptop can be equivalent to standing in the afternoon for 20 minutes! All of these elements indicate how damaging blue light exposure can be for your skin.
Can skincare prevent blue light damage?
The best thing you can do is to limit your exposure to HEV light and wear a specialised sunscreen that protects you from it. If you don’t have a specific sunscreen for this purpose, opt for any good sunscreen like the Lakmé Sun Expert SPF 30 PA++ Ultra Matte Lotion that provides UVA/ UVB protection.
In terms of treating the pigmentation caused by it, you would need to use the same products you would normally use to treat pigmentation and promote skin health.
What are the ingredients that can protect you from blue light damage?
To help control photo-damage and oxidative stress, use a product rich in antioxidants. Some good ingredients to look out for are Vitamin C, idebenone, retinol and niacinamide in the form of antioxidants. Acids like hyaluronic acid, lactic acid and so on also help lighten pigmentation.
The Pond’s White Beauty Day Cream with SPF 15 is a great option to prevent pigmentation as it contains Pro-Vitamin B3, which is a potent skin lightening agent as well as niacinamide. You could also use the Dermalogica Biolumin-C Serum, which is a high-power Vitamin C serum that also contains lactic acid. These ingredients work to brighten the skin and accelerate cell turnover. What’s more, it also contains Sophora Japonica flower extract to help the skin return to a calm state after experiencing oxidative stress, and Salvia Hispanica (chia seed) oil to hydrate and help quench free radicals.
Apart from this, increase your intake of supplements like oral antioxidants and collagen, and remember that homecare can only help you so much. Go for regular facials and opt for mild collagen-boosting treatments early on for skin health and upkeep and to slow down the ageing process as best as you can. If you do notice pigmentation, you can opt for lasers or peels as recommended by your dermatologist.
Dr Harshna Bijlani’s pro tips on dealing with blue light damage
- Try and limit your exposure to HEV light.
- Use a blue light-reducing filter or setting (newer phones have it as a built-in option)
- Opt for a hands-free headset, ideally a wired one for calls.
- Avoid extremely bright LED bulbs in your home.
- Maintain a safe distance from your TV and laptop while you’re working on it.