Anna

Anna

Anna studied medicine and specialized in dermatology and after her studies worked in two hospitals and a polyclinic. Recently however she decided to exchange her position as a doctor for that of freelance medical writer and never regretted this step. Her skills are high in demand by various pharmaceutical or cosmetics companies. Anna writes about the anatomy of the skin and skin problems.

Blue light – What’s the big deal about it?

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We discussed wrinkles; what they are and what causes them in the previous article. A lot of facts resulting in the development of wrinkles on your fair skin were mentioned. In this article, a very important and recent discovery of cause of wrinkles and how it can be managed would be discussed.

In this article, there was a lot of references made to the effects of UVA and UVB rays (present in sunlight) on the skin, and why the skin needs to be protected away from these UV rays to reduce the chance of skin wrinkling. But that is no longer enough, from recent findings and researches, it has been discovered that blue light which is emitted by the sun and screens of digital devices such as your PC and smart phones is now a bigger threat to your beautiful skin. So in this article, methods by which you can protect your skin from the dangers of this blue light will be discussed.

But before then, let me take you through the basic knowledge of what blue light is, its sources and effect on the skin.

What is Blue light?

There is a large spectrum of different wavelength of light. Ranging from the high frequency rays which are referred to as ultraviolet rays down to the low frequency rays which can be referred to as infrared. However, we are unable to see most of these light waves, but the ones we can see with our naked eyes, such as the one that brings about the sunrise and brighten up the day is of a special wavelength, and blue light happens to be a part of it.

Blue light is also referred to as high-energy visible(HEV) light. It is high-frequency electromagnetic wave which from your basic knowledge of physics in elementary school implies that it has a short wavelength. The blue light take a large percentage of the wave energy emitted by the sun, about 50 percent of the sunlight spectrum. However, the sun is not the only source of blue light although it accounts for a larger percentage of it; the digital devices such as our smart phones, tablet, TV, and even the LEDS lighting around are also major sources of blue light.

Except you’re photophobic, you’re being surrounded and accustomed to light in your everyday activities. From the light you absorb through the digital read out on your alarm clock when we wake up from bed, to the sun rays coming through the window to announce a new day, and the whole staring at screen of the PC at work, you’re being surrounded by all sort of light source. The sun is a major source of blue light, which is also considered natural as it aids in regulating our sleep cycles and patterns. However, the digital devices around us such as your smart phones, laptops, TV screens are much closer to you, and as you use them more often, they are considered to be a potential long-term threat to your skin.

On average basis, we tend to check our phones about 150 times a day, and spends a total of 10 hours or even more staring at screens. These statistics suggests that we now get more of blue light from the screens of our digital devices even more than we get from the sun alone. An influential dermatologist, Dr. Murad once stated that, “spending 4 eight-hour workdays in front of a computer exposes you to the same amount of energy as 20 minutes in the mid-day sun”. You probably spend much more time staring at your phone’s screen and absorbing more of the blue light from your screens, which may over time cause your skin to wrinkle and age prematurely.

Digital devices which are being labelled as the silent agers of our generation is no doubt a prominent source of blue light-an enemy to that beautiful radiant face of yours. The blue light coming majorly from screens of our devices have been discovered over the past few years to be affecting our sleep patterns, memory and even eyesight. The recent discovery which is the major point of discussion in this article is the fact that it makes us look older.

How does Blue light affect us?

There are numerous ways blue light can affect your general health, wellness and physical appearance. Discoveries have been made which establishes the fact that blue light can alter important hormones secretion in the body, cause insomnia, affect your body’s metabolism and even cause a change in how your reproductive organs works.

Few of these harms, especially those that involve your physical look and appearance is discussed as follow:

Compromises beauty sleep.

One of the advantage of the natural exposure to blue light from sunlight during day time is to help the memory, stimulate awareness, make you feel better and most especially regulates your sleep patterns and cycles naturally. On the other hand, when you pick up your phone at night or keep watching your latest series obsession from Netflix through the night, you are throwing your entire natural circadian rhythm into confusion and you will discover that you find it very difficult to fall asleep later and might eventually spend the remaining of the night scrolling through your phone.

Disrupts skins natural circadian rhythm.

Exposure toBlue light especially in the night doesn’t only affects your normal sleeping patterns but it also results in disorder in natural circadian rhythm of the skin cells. The skin cells go through a natural process of repairs by night when the entire body is at rest. However, if you fail to sleep at this period of time and at the same time exposes your skin to blue light, you are causing it to assume it is daytime which results in a disorder in your skin repair process and when such practice is repeated over and over again the skin begins to wrinkle and age prematurely.

Poor Eyesight.

It must have crossed your mind at a point in time that staring at the screen of your digital devices day in day out can result in poor or deteriorating eyesight. Yes, it is a fact. Unprotected exposure of your eyes to the blue light coming from the screen of your PC can lead to degeneration of your sight. The blue light triggers the secretion of Retinal which is produced by the eye and causes to go through series of chemical reactions which is dangerous to the eyes. According to studies, blue light from the screens of devices can also lead to dry eyes. For example, when you’re engaged with your phone, you notice that you blink less and this causes the tears in your eyes evaporates faster, which may cause the cornea to dry out if such practice is being repeated over a long period of time.

Pigmentation.

I know you don’t want to see this happening to your skin, but this is just one of the negative effects of your skin being exposed to blue light. If you are at the risk of getting pigmentation, then blue light can increase your chances of getting pigmentation or even worsen it. A skin condition named Melasma, which is common to women can be provoked by exposure to blue light and may result in hyperpigmentation which are more difficult to treat compared to that of exposure to UV light.

Wrinkles.

Yes, blue light makes your skin age and wrinkle prematurely.So, if you’re serious about preventing premature ageing and wrinkles, you aren’t expected to protect yourself from UVA and UVB rays alone, you need to be protected from blue light too. According to studies, blue light has the ability to penetrate into the dermis more than the UV rays does, and gets to the collagen and elastin structure of the skin. It then degenerates and destroys the fiber framework of the skin, weaken the skin and makes it lose it elasticity. With time the skin becomes weak, then wrinkles and folds begin to appear.

From the list of harms and havoc blue light causes, you may begin to wonder why blue light is being recommended by salons and clinics for skin treatment.

Well, let me start by letting you know that not all the blue light is dangerous. As a matter of fact, a large portion of the sun rays reaching us at daytime is blue light and it has been discovered to possess great health benefits such as helping our mood and boosting alertness. The blue light used in skin treatment at clinics is entirely different to the dangerous blue light emitted by your TV, phone screens, bulbs, street lights and even PC screens.

This type of blue light is emitted by LED (Light Emitting Diode) which is a computer chip that emits energy at a specific therapeutic wavelength. When this particular blue light coming from a therapeutic light source at the right wavelength come in contact with the cells in the dermis of the skin, they would be converted into ATP known as Adenosine triphosphate that fuels the skin and boost its ability. This type of blue light has the ability to stimulate the function of elastin and collagen in the skin structure and in turn keep wrinkles away from your beautiful skin.

An important benefit of the blue light therapy is the treatment of acne. Blue light therapy is pain-free and has the ability to reduce acne by fighting and killing harmful bacteria around the skin with the aid of the high-end LEDs, which disperses light of specific wavelength to the areas of the skin to be treated. Blue light also provides an effective therapy to some sort of skin disorder such as breakouts. Although, there has not been any standard research to compare the effects of the blue light therapy to that that of the gold standard ingredient for acne, but you can go for the blue light therapy and better still talk to your dermatologist to help you with such options.

These treatments from the blue light therapy can really help make your skin beautiful and give you a very good complexion without any pain or aftermath. However, the potential harm this blue light may cause to our skin when absorbed at a wrong wavelength and time cannot be ignored.

Blue light seems to be almost totally unavoidable due to the fact that they are all around us from devices that help get our work done faster and more effectively, and the gadgets that makes our lives easier and fun. But no cause for alarm, you don’t need to start bothering on disposing that your newly purchased iPhone or you start missing out your exciting releases on Netflix. Instead we are going to discuss some methods by which you can control the negative effects of blue light on your skin and in turn keep it ever-radiant and wrinkles-free.

How can it be dealt with?

As you are aware that blue light is being emitted all around us from our TVs, phones and computer screens when in our homes and places of work, and even through sunlight and the traffic lights on the streets, it is required that any effective measure that would be taken to protect us from its unwanted side effects should involve both indoor and outdoor approach. This will help protect you from direct exposure to blue light and the damages they may cause to your skin by devices or the environment.

This methods ranges from adjusting personal lifestyles and practices, taking precautions and using protective devices, to applying protective products that will help protect against the damaging effects of blue light.

Here are some helpful methods, practices and ways of keeping blue light and its negative effects in control:

Blue-light blocking Glasses.

As you now know that if you are exposed to blue light at evening, your brain is tricked to “think” that it is daytime, which in turn reduces the amount of melatonin production which is responsible for sleep and also affects your skin in the long run. One of the way you can protect your skin from blue light in the evening is to block all blue light with the aid of amber-tinted glasses. These amber-tinted glasses effectively block all blue light even in a lit room or while using a blue light-emitting device such as your laptop. So, you might want to put on these amber-tinted glasses as a protection at evening or before bedtime to help regulate your melatonin production for you to have a good night rest and an ever-glowing skin.

Screen settings.

You may find putting on glasses at night tiresome or awkward, well, if you don’t want to put on glasses, you may try out some other way of reducing exposure to blue light. Such way is installing or activating a program or feature on your devices that will automatically adjust the color and brightness of your display depending on the time of the day. Programs such as flux can be installed on your PC and Nightshift on your iPhone which will help adjust your screen’s brightness and block all blue light and give the monitor a faint orange color to which is harmless to the eyes and face.

Screen protector.

If you’re one of those that can’t help taking numbers of selfies in a day or you keep tooling your twitter news feed for recent posts, you may need to get a screen protector that does not only protects your screen from scratches but also blocks blue light from reaching your face. These type of screen protectors contain a special type of film which blocks blue light and doesn’t allow it to pass through it to your face. They are also available for your tablet and phones too and are effective in filtering blue light emitted by your digital devices.

Sunscreen.

You might wonder if protection from blue light is being focused on the indoor light emission alone, well, there is a lot of exposures to blue light when outdoor too, and your tinted glasses or phone setting may not be enough to keep your skin safe this time. So, you might want to know about sunscreen products. Sunscreen products that contains antioxidants are considered to be essential for everyone that cares about their skin. One way the blue light causes damage to our skin is to induce oxidative stress in our skin which leads to wrinkling. Although our skin contain natural antioxidants present in them, they are however used up when the skin is exposed to UV and blue light present around us. Therefore, applying sunscreen products containing antioxidants can help strengthen your skin and protect it from the damages blue light may cause.

Diet.

I know that you’re aware that your style of feeding and what you eat contributes to how healthy your skin is. A lot of vegetables and fruits in your meals help build and strengthen your skin structure and also provides it with a smooth look. But this goes a bit further than that; as a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables boosts your skin’s natural antioxidants content and helps strengthen its defense against the harm blue light may pose to it.

Some other precautions that can be taken to help reduce the effects of blue lights are;

Changing your bedroom lighting to a softer one.

Reducing your phone’s brightness to match the brightness of the room.

Reducing the amount of the unnecessary time you spend staring at your phone.

Being conscious of how close your phone is to your face

Taking few seconds break to look away from the PC’s screen at work.

With these methods and precautions, and you trying your best to practice them, you can always get that beautiful face of yours staring back at you from the mirror every morning. I’m sure you found this article educative and useful, try to share with your friends and families as you expect the next one.

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