You’d think that by now, we’d be well-versed in the A to Z of the dark side of technology. If years of public health announcements and shows like sci-fi anthology Black Mirror have taught us anything, our digital devices — when not used wisely — are the gateway to our own detriment. While excessive use has been linked to negative effects on the eyes, social lives and even mental health, your skin has now been added to that list, thanks to the emission of blue light from your phones and computers. “What’s blue light?” you ask.
What is blue light?
If you thought staying hidden from the sun would keep you safe from photoageing, we’ve got bad news: Light emitted from the devices that run our lives are responsible for 10 percent of the visible changes in our skin. Also known as HEV (High Energy Visible) light, it penetrates deeper in our skin than UVA and UVB rays from the sun. What’s worse is, it can even access your dermis, where collagen and elastic fibres sit, resulting in elasticity breakdown, causing wrinkling and sagging. It can also induce pigmentation.
Fear mongering or fact?
It’s important to note that for all the talk about blue light’s negative impact, it has its upsides. Exposure to it in the day helps to maintain your body’s circadian rhythm, which refers to the 24-hour clock that governs your body’s natural sleep and wake cycle. Blue light is also used for acne therapy and works by killing certain bacteria on the skin. As blue light from digital devices is a relatively new skin aggressor, research on its damage isn’t entirely conclusive. But giving your skin the protection it needs is still a worthwhile cause.
Skincare with blue light protection
While slapping on sunscreen seems adequate, most of the products on the market only protect you from the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. Crystal Tomato’s is an exception. The brand found its roots in one of the world’s first skin supplements made of white tomatoes and has recently launched Beyond Sun Protection.
Founder Catherine Tan decided to create her own sunscreen with blue light protection after participating in multiple scientific conferences where dermatologists spoke up about the harm caused by blue light. “When I did a market survey, there were no known sunblocks that protect against blue light. This started my quest five years ago to formulate one that is medically proven to protect against blue light,” says Tan. “Without a sunscreen that protects against blue light, one would have less than half the protection (against UVA/UVB) and that is not good enough protection against skin pigmentation and premature aging,” she continues.
The creation of Crystal Tomato’s offering took a good five years of research and trials, resulting in a sunscreen that offers a whopping medically proven protection grade of 54.1 percent against blue light — the highest in the market.
In the same vein, luxury beauty brand Chantecaille has introduced a new Blue Light Protection Hyaluronic Serum. Harvey Tsao, the brand’s regional manager in Asia, tells us that the serum’s ingredients can strengthen your skin to adapt to blue light, creating oxygen flow in your skin to avoid cell suffixation. Natural ingredients calm and soothe any inflammation and redness caused by blue lights. Featuring a potent blend of six supercharged botanicals, it contains fermented extract to activate skin’s own photo sensors to shield your skin from blue light, and reduce brown spots and appearance of wrinkles. Nasturtium flower revitalises dehydrated skin, increases radiance and skin’s natural rosy hue, and reduces transepidermal water loss, and the appearance of fines lines and wrinkles. This, alongside other potent ingredients, is blended into a single formula that promises to re-plump, soothe skin, and fight against the dire effects of pollution.
Skincare aside, your first line of defense is to tackle your digital devices. Reduce your exposure to blue light with filters and protectors for both your laptops and your smartphones. Also, look for a night mode in your phone settings to reduce the strain on your eyes and the delicate skin surrounding it.
When asked how else we can counter the effects of blue light on our skin, Tan tell us that there is little else you can do aside from wearing sunscreen with sufficient blue light protection. Tsao on the other hand, advises “to try to monitor and control your screen time and make sure you don’t grow an addiction to digital devices.”