As we anxiously await some more pleasant weather, it feels like the right time to discuss updating your skin protection regimen. It turns out, the sun isn’t the only threat, and you don’t even need to set foot outside to feel the effects of another.
I’m talking about blue light. The main source of our exposure to it is the sun, but we’re also getting our fill of it from our screens and indoor lighting. It’s been garnering increasing attention over the last few years after a few small but potentially groundbreaking studies came to light.
One found that exposing skin to the amount of blue light we get from the sun caused more pigment, redness, and swelling than when the same person’s skin was exposed to comparable levels of UVA rays. Another suggested that blue light might stimulate the production of free radicals in skin, which can speed up the appearance of aging.
Let’s unpack that and discuss what you can do about it.
How damaging is blue light, exactly?
Blue light isn’t all bad, actually. It helps regulate our natural sleep-wake cycle, for one. (Though, too much of it may make it more difficult to fall asleep.) It’s also been found to elevate mood and help memory and cognitive function.
But that early research I referenced doesn’t paint such an inviting picture. A lot more research still needs to be done before we can draw any meaningful conclusions, but the evidence so far does seem to suggest that it has the potential to be damaging to our skin.
Some of that has found that as blue light penetrates the skin, it leads to DNA damage, which spurs inflammation and the breakdown of healthy collagen and elastin, along with hyperpigmentation.
It’s still hard to say whether our screens produce enough blue light to cause serious skin damage. Though, it’s not hard to envision a scenario where the longer we spend on our devices, the worse off our skin might be. And make no mistake; we’re spending a lot of time on our devices. A 2016 report found that adults log more than 10 hours of screen time a day.
At least one prominent dermatologist has been quoted as saying, “Spending four eight-hour workdays in front of a computer screen exposes you to the same amount of energy as 20 minutes in the midday sun.”
What can you do about it?
Before we discuss your skin protection regimen, find the “night shift” (or “night mode”) setting on your phone and tablet and set it to run all the time. That’ll effectively disable the blue light emissions from those devices.
Now, as for your regimen, a quick search will yield lots of new topical antioxidants that are designed to boost our skin’s natural defense system against blue light and environmental stressors. I offer what I believe to be the most effective formula on the market, SkinMedica’s LUMIVIVE. It’s billed as “full atmospheric protection against blue light and pollution.”
LUMIVIVE is a two-step system. The Day Damage Defense Serum provides protection all day long while the Night Revitalize Repair Complex enhances the critical sleep-repair cycle. Together, they can offset the 10 hours, on average, we spend in front of a screen each day and restore your skin’s radiant glow within 14 days.
In time, it may become as essential as your broad-spectrum SPF.