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By Kaitlyn McLintock

Here’s a fun (read: frightening) activity. Sit back and add up the amount of time you spend working on your computer on any given day. Take that number and add the amount of time you spend on your phone. Add any remaining screen time, including but not limited to Netflix binges, online shopping, and time spent scrolling through news sites. The number you end up represents how long your skin is being exposed to potentially damaging light emitted from digital devices. This high energy visible light (HEV light), otherwise referred to as blue light, could be affecting the health of your skin in more ways than one.

Research tells us that blue light can cause skin damage. More specifically, it can cause hyperpigmentation and premature signs of aging. It causes the former by inducing inconsistent melanin production in the skin. It causes the latter by exposing your cells to oxidative stress, or free radicals, which damage the collagen in your skin, leading to such signs of aging as fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin.

That’s the bad news, but there’s good news, too. There are steps you can take to minimize the effect of blue light. From keeping an eye on your screen time to using antioxidant-rich skincare products, keep reading to learn more about how to care for your skin in the digital age.

Reduce Screen Time (If You Can)

The first and most obvious step in protecting your skin from an exorbitant amount of blue light exposure is to minimize your screen time. Even though that’s not always feasible when it comes to professional life (especially if, due to recent events, your laptop has become your office), there are ways to stay conscious of the time you’re spending on screens for other reasons. For example, limit time spent scrolling through social media to a few minutes each day. Track your screen time on your phone. Schedule screen-free time in your calendar, so you feel the freedom to walk away from your computer for a specific amount of time. At the very least, switch your phone display to night shift, which minimizes the amount of blue light it emanates.

Make Sure You’re Getting Enough Sleep

Because there’s evidence that blue light disrupts our natural circadian rhythm (aka our sleep-wake cycle), it’s important to prioritize sleep, especially if you’re spending most of your day staring at a screen. After all, research links sleep deprivation with acceleration in physical signs of aging such as fine lines and wrinkles. Sleep deprivation could also harm our skin’s natural reparative processes, meaning damage and inflammation could ensue from not getting enough shut-eye.

Load Up on Antioxidant Protection

We’ve already discussed how blue light exposes your skin to oxidative stress, or free radicals, which can damage collagen and lead to physical signs of aging. Antioxidants prevent free radicals from damaging the skin, which is the reason antioxidant-rich ingredients are so prevalent in blue light skincare products.

The efficacy of antioxidant-rich skincare is exactly why Dr. Goldfaden formulated the Mist Rx Daily Nutrient Face Mist with aloe vera, kale sprout water, Kakadu plum, and plant & fruit stem cells—all of which have antioxidant properties to fight free radical damage, thus mitigating the harmful effects of blue light on our skin.

While these blue-light-blocking tactics are all worth practicing, it’s important to note that our main source of blue light exposure is from the sun (and no, sunscreen won’t necessarily protect your skin. Remember that sunscreen protects against UVA and UVB rays, not HEV…). This is something to keep in mind, lest we panic and blame our ceaseless Zoom meetings for damaging our skin beyond repair. It’s likely that our skin is happy and healthy if we remain conscious of our health and lifestyle habits, focus on getting good, quality sleep, nourish our skin with the right protective skincare products, and schedule regular check-ins with a dermatologist.

ABOUT THE WRITER:

Kaitlyn McLintock is a beauty and wellness writer based in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in such publications as Popsugar, Byrdie, Hello Giggles, Who What Wear, and more. When she’s not writing, researching, and editing, or testing out the latest skincare and makeup products, she’s drinking coffee and spritzing Goldfaden’s Mist RX all over her skin.

Environmental factors have rapidly become a major threat to the health and appearance of your skin. Every day our skin is bombarded by blue light, dust, soot, pollen, pollution, UVA/UVB rays, and smoke in the air from various sources, despite our best efforts to avoid them. These particles—collectively referred to as particulate matter—are small enough to penetrate the skin, where they start to generate a storm of free radicals. The ensuing oxidative stress creates an unfavorable environment of inflammation, lipid peroxidation, uneven skin tone, dehydration, dryness, dark spots, accelerated aging, and wrinkles.

We had a chance to sit down with Dr. G to understand more about how all of these external factors and what we can do to protect against the harmful damage.

How does pollution lead to free radicals in the skin?

Pollution releases microscopic particles or free radicals that can go deep into the skin and cause damage to otherwise healthy cells. The outcome is loss of elasticity (wrinkles and sagging) and Hyperpigmentation (dark spots).

Can you explain blue light for me – e.g. we get this sort of light from the sun early in the AM, but it’s now threaded through our days thanks to computers/ phones etc?

HEV is primarily emitted from the Sun but also from computers + smart phones + fluorescent lights. All our screens emit High-energy visible (HEV) light and Infrared (IR) light. In some studies HEV and IR light have been shown to penetrate the skin more deeply than the traditionally marketed UVA, UVB and UVC rays.

Can blue light can be damaging for our skin? If so, what are the potential affects (e.g. ageing/ loss of elasticity…).

Blue Light coming from screen time has been proven to breakdown our skin cells which simply just leads to accelerated aging. The affects are similar to those caused by the sun. HEV (high-energy visible light (HEV light) is high-frequency, high-energy light in the violet/blue band from 400 to 450 nm in the visible spectrum. Despite a lack of concurring scientific evidence, HEV light has sometimes been claimed to be a cause of age-related macular degeneration) is emitted from the sun too, just like it is within Blue Lights. Some studies have shown the breakdown of collagen and other similar aging issues such as hyperpigmentation/color changes, inflammation and dehydration.

Does the amount of time that we spend close to blue light (e.g. someone that reads email on the bus/ spends 9 hours at a computer/ looks at a phone on the sofa whilst watching TV, versus someone who works as a teacher and spends less time in front of a screen) come into it? 

Absolutely. Try taking a screen break and always wear protective skincare.

Is there anything a person can do to mitigate the effects? E.g. phone covers for blue light?

Blue blocker glasses and phone and screen covers may help.

Is there anything a person can do, product-wise, to mitigate the effects? 

Environmental aggressors deliver free radicals to the skin, which in turn cause the breakdown of collagen, onset of wrinkles, cell mutation, aging, dark spots, dehydration, inflammation, immune function damage and in some instances cancer.

Antioxidants are substances that may protect your cells against the effects of free radicals — molecules produced when your body breaks down food or is exposed to tobacco smoke, pollution, smoke and radiation. … Antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, and carotenoids, may help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Anti-oxidants can be found in topical skincare products, vitamins and healthy super foods. Below are my list of anti-oxidants everyone should be ingesting and applying and also ingesting to maximize on the skin’s best natural defense system.

The best way to protect against and repair environmentally or digitally damaged skin is to use an anti-pollution based skin care regimen. Exfoliation + cleanse to remove the dead and polluted skin cells. Then treat the skin by using anti-pollution, anti-aging or brightening serum, then seal the skin with a moisturizer and last but not least protect (SPF 30 or higher). The most potent and highest regarded pollution fighting ingredients are Red Tea/Roobois, Ferulic Acid, Vitamin C, Retinol, Resveratrol, White Horehound and the powerful Terminalia Ferdinandiana Fruit Extract, found in our new anti-pollution Mist RX – that can be applied throughout the day to keep your skin properly protected.

 

How about lifestyle-wise? E.g. screen time breaks, no double screening at home… 

Investing in blue blocker eyeglasses may help the strain and effects to the delicate skin around the eye area.  Try to limit screen time and always remember to wear protective and restorative skincare and sunscreen.

The Sun is the number one environmental damage for skin.  Both UVA/UVB rays are harmful. Protect yourself by wearing a hat and sunglasses. Shielding your skin, head and eyes can help with sun damage and pollution-based aging. Always wash you face to remove the residue and makeup from the day. Remember all the pollution from car exhaust, factories and the weak ozone layer sits on the skin!

Eating healthy can also reduce pollution effects on the skin and the body. Eat a diet high in anti-oxidant rich foods such as leafy greens and berries and foods high in essential fatty acids (salmon and almonds). Stay away form foods that can encourage and cause Glycation. The Glycation process, which is basically, sugars (from food and alcohol) breaking down the collagen fibers in the skin and therefore speeding up the aging process. Foods that feed Glycation and cause inflammation in the body and the skin are carbohydrates, fried foods, sugar, processed fatty meats and alcohol.

A healthy skincare regimen will work to fight against outside pollutants.