Health is beauty, and beauty is health! Staying healthy is more than eating well and exercising (although this is super important too!) Our work and home environment also play a huge role in how we feel, especially considering our increased screen time for work and fun.
So, how does our screen time affect our health? If you’re spending a significant amount of time on either a phone or computer, then blue light may become a health concern for you to manage. Here’s everything you need to know about how blue light can affect you…
To understand how blue light affects us, let’s talk about what it is and what it does to us.
We all get that ultraviolet light from the sun can damage our skin and eyes because we can feel it and see the results. One day in the sun without protection can result in some serious consequences. Blue light is more subtle but similar to this.
What is Blue Light?
Blue light is what’s emitted from computer screens, phones, TVs and even fluorescent lighting in our homes or office. We can’t see ultra-violet (UV) light, but its dangers (skin damage and cancer risks) are now common knowledge. We know to look for UV protection in our sunglasses and lotions. But, we are just learning that blue light has similar properties to ultraviolet light.
When we take normal sunlight and put it through a prism, it spreads out the different light waves and makes them visible, like a rainbow. The purple and blue wavelengths of light are in the visible spectrum of light and sit close to invisible UV light. But blue light has a shorter wavelength which means less of it is required to cause damage, unlike the colour red, for example. Blue light can penetrate our skin far easier than any other type of light in the visible spectrum of light.
An example of an even higher frequency wave than a light wave is an x-ray or microwave – those types of waves can travel right through objects! That’s great when you need an x-ray or want to cook food, but we generally want to block these higher frequency waves from impacting our skin, eyes and bodies. This includes ultraviolet light and blue light as well.
How Does Blue Light Impact Our Skin?
According to holistic skin expert Gemma Clare, ultraviolet light enters skin cells and causes damage to the DNA. She advises that blue light directly damages collagen through oxidative stress.
Collagen is the primary supporting protein of the skin and gives it that soft, full appearance. It’s believed that when blue light is absorbed in the skin, it causes free radicals to be produced. Think of free radicals as tiny loose magnets that bounce around and attract tiny pieces of your collagen cells, putting a small dent in them. Over time, the collagen starts to break down and results in premature ageing of the skin.
According to a recent report from Unilever*, 30 hours of screen time increases skin inflammation by 40%. We also know that blue light causes skin, specifically medium to dark skin, to become hyperpigmented. With this in mind, protection from blue light is crucial for healthy skin!
What About Our Eyes and Hormones
There is even more research on the changes blue light can have on our eyes and hormones. Blue light has been shown to cause eye strain, headaches, tired eyes and even macular damage. It also decreases the sleep hormone melatonin, leading to all kinds of health problems, but especially poor sleep.
When you look at your devices at night, your brain is tricked into thinking that it’s daytime, and it releases a hormone that usually is highest in the morning, cortisol. This is our wake-up and get-out-of-bed hormone! Having higher cortisol combined with lower serotonin at night can easily disrupt sleep and wake-up cycles.
Indoor vs Outdoor Light
Sunlight also emits lots of blue light, along with the full spectrum of light. We know how to protect ourselves when we are outside. Harmful blue light is also found in LED lighting indoors, but who thinks about the damage done? We let our guard down when we go indoors.
What Can We Do To Protect Our Skin & Eyes From Blue Light?
A good quality anti-blue light cream can protect your skin from free radicals in two ways. First, it can block the absorption of blue light by creating a protective barrier. Secondly, antioxidants, such as vitamin C, can be absorbed into the skin to help prevent damage from free radicals. Of course, you could sit inside with zinc oxide slathered on your skin, but there are many more pleasing options available. Although creams lose their efficacy as you sweat during the day, and if you’re like most people who take off creams in the evening, you’re probably going to be using your devices still late into the evening and be exposed to the potential pitfalls of blue light.
You can also eat your way to protect your skin from the effects of blue light. Vitamins like vitamins C and D are great antioxidants, as are many substances found in fruits and veggies. Eating well is one way of getting a good dose of antioxidants but combining that with a high-quality supplement is even better!