Although we know we should slather ourselves in SPF to protect our skin from the sunshine we basked in at Easter, science has uncovered yet another reason to avoid bright light.
This time, though, it's not sunlight but blue light, known as High Energy Visible (HEV) light, that we should shy away from. Blue light? Yes, the sort given off by laptop, tablet and phone screens, on which we spend increasing amounts of time, reports the Daily Mail.
"Studies have shown that blue light can induce oxidative stress in the skin," explains dermatologist Dr Stefanie Williams. Oxidation is the gradual damage to the skin that produces free radicals — unstable electrons which accelerate the skin's ageing process.
"Blue light has a longer wavelength than UVA and UVB light, so it can penetrate skin more deeply and damage the cells" DNA and the collagen and elastin that keep skin firm and supple. If the damage carries on long enough, it results in wrinkles. There is no outward sign it's happening, either.
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"The effect of HEV light on skin is a recent discovery," says Boldijarre Koronczay, founder of Eminence Organics skincare. "But if you're serious about skin health, protection from just UVA and UVB rays is no longer enough.
"On average we get more than six hours of HEV light exposure each day, so an effective defence is paramount. HEV weakens the skin's protective barrier and activates melanin production, which causes pigmentation."
How much of a problem is this? "Scientific studies as recent as this year suggest such exposure may accelerate pigmentation changes and add fine lines and wrinkles," says Roshida Khanom, associate director of beauty and personal care at Mintel. "It's clear from our research that most consumers are unaware of the damage HEV light is capable of doing to our skin."
Limiting screen time benefits your health as well as your skin, as blue light suppresses production of the sleep hormone melatonin. See if your phone settings allow a "yellow light" option and fix a blue-light protector to your devices.
The skincare industry has also found a way to help, with products that guard against blue light and limit its effects. This includes sunscreens with extra screening ingredients, and antioxidants to mop up free radicals.