Modern technology is amazing, but there’s a price to pay for staring at our screens all day. Recent research has shown that the blue light emitted by our phones, tablets and computer can actually harm our skin and eyes. Also known as high-energy visible light (HEV), blue light can stimulate photo-ageing and over time lead to skin discoloration, inflammation and a weakened skin surface. Read on to learn more about this modern aggressor and find out how you can protect yourself.
Blue light is everywhere. It is present in daylight, but also emitted by fluorescent lamps and LED devices such as computer screens, televisions and smartphones. Sunlight is the largest source of blue light to which we are exposed, and digital devices only emit a fraction of that radiation. But because we keep our phones so close to our face all day and check them constantly, this increases the risks. According to statistics, millennials check their smartphones on average 157 times a day. That is more than five times as many as older adults, who check their phones on average only thirty times a day. Millennials therefore run a much greater risk of exposure to blue light every day.
There is visible light and then there’s invisible light. Visible light is the light that you can see, such as sunlight or the light from your mobile phone. Invisible light, however, cannot be seen with the naked eye, such as UVA and UVB rays. This radiation, among other things, causes you to burn and is harmful to your health. If you look at a diagram of the light spectrum you’ll see that the wavelengths of UVA and UVB rays vary from 100 nm to 400 nm (nm stands for nanometer, a measure that is used when measuring light). The next color of the spectrum is blue light, with a wavelength ranging from 380nm to 500nm. It has been proven that blue light with a wavelength between 380nm and 400nm is harmful to your skin. The risk seems to decrease somewhat as the wavelength gets closer to 500nm.
We strongly advise fitting your phone with a blue light screen protector. This is a cheap yet effective solution that allows you to use your phone or tablet without having to worry about skincare or sunglasses to limit the damage. Some smartphones also have a setting (often called night mode) that turns off blue light and gives more yellow light instead. Using this setting all the time is much gentler on your eyes and can be a good way to help prevent skin ageing.
Whether the light comes from the sun or your smartphone, make sure you always protect your eyes. Use polarised sunglasses to prevent damage from light exposure in the long term. If you do not have a screen protector with a blue light filter, it can help to view your phone from an arm's length. There are some studies that show treatments with blue light can have a positive effect on certain skin conditions, but unless a doctor prescribes a facial with blue light, you should always protect your skin against the possible damage caused by blue light. Besides a filter for your smartphone, a good broad-spectrum SPF and skincare products packed with antioxidants are the best way to reduce the negative effects of blue light. And if you already use these products, that’s one less thing to worry about!
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