When we think of ways to prevent damage from aging to our skin and overall health, we think in terms of diet and sun protection and wrinkle reduction and prevention. But that is not all we have to worry about now. Our phone could be aging us along with our other devices, such as computer and tablet. But how?
When I got my new phone I noticed that in the settings was an option to use the timer to shut down the blue light that we also see in LED lighting in our homes and offices. This blue light is also harmful to our skin and eyes. Can we prevent this and turn back some damage that was already done? Read on to find out.
What Exactly Is Blue Light?
All light exists on a spectrum. The human eye can only see light rays on the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum of visible light. The colors red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Light creates EM energy waves that the brain perceives as color. Each wave has a different energy which makes us interpret it as different colors. As we move up the spectrum, from red to violet, the energy increases.
The more energy a wave has, the higher the frequency. Waves that have a higher frequency are potentially more damaging to our bodies. This is why infrared lights are good for us and UV lighting is not. Check out my article on home light therapy here. On the scale of visible light, blue light is high.
All light contains these waves, but it’s the energy they emit that allows us to see colors. Blue light is no exception. Actually, our sun is the largest source of blue light and the reason we see the sky as the color blue, due to the suns rays colliding with air molecules in our atmosphere. This is why blue light is important to life here on earth: it helps us to differentiate night from day allowing us to regulate our sleep cycles, known as circadian rhythm.
How Blue Light Can Harm Us
Blue light is a high energy visible light, and our eyes provide very little protection from it, especially on clear or sunny days. Our LED screens ( such as computer, tablet, phone and even television) produce an even stronger intensity of the same blue light. Too much of this can affect our sleep cycle, our eyesight and cause damage to the eye itself.
The eyes frontal membrane ( cornea), naturally absorbs light from lower frequencies ( red, orange, green), but high frequency light ( blue, violet) goes straight through the eye to the retina, which absorbs it, and over time causes damage to the retina. It can also throw off our sleep cycle because our bodies associate blue light with daytime, and looking at a blue screen late at night can trick our bodies into staying awake. Some studies show that this can affect our mental health and cause sleep problems.
Studies also show, blue light can cause damage to our skin. Though not as harmful as the higher frequency UVB and UVA rays, blue light rays are found in all LED screens as well as in our homes and offices, which means a lot of us are being exposed to more blue light than UV rays on a daily basis.
The way it affects our skin is similar to UV rays. The frequency of blue light is harmful because it passes through our skin into the deep tissue underneath causing damage by producing free radicals. These molecules can damage our cell structure and damage our own skins’ DNA. When the body in unable to fight off the damage from free radicals, it causes premature aging, such as fine lines and wrinkles, loss of elasticity and overall dullness.
What Can We Do About It?
People are now becoming more aware about how blue light can affect our bodies, and the beauty industry is too. Many are turning to cosmetic products and treatments to help fight and prevent the damage to our skin. An excellent website AEDIT.com, has researched this topic extensively and spoke with Payman J. Danielpour, M.D., F.A.C. S, a Board Certifed Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon in Beverly Hills, to find out how to combat and reverse the signs of aging due to blue light damage and improve the skins’ appearance. “Treatments are based on whether we are addressing a problem or trying to avoid problems in the future,” he says. “Having a good aestheticism to provide a structured facial protocol to address skin tone, texture and color is always a good start. In addition, using micro needling, hydra facials and a variety of lasers and peels can help treat and avoid signs of aging.”
Best Products To Combat Damage ( Links for products lead to Amazon)
To combat the effects of blue light on our skin, “the best way is to have a good skin care regimen that addresses a lot of problems that are associated with facial aging,” says Dr. Danielpour. Avoid unprotected exposure, use SPF protection when outside (ideally SPF 50 and make sure it says “broad spectrum”) and use a skin cream that is rich in powerful antioxidants and Vitamin C. Products that are specifically formulated to combat photo aging (aging caused by light exposure) are particularly useful.
Paula’s Choice has products such as protective lotions and balms, that are specifically formulated to block blue light and encourage the skins’ natural healing process. Their Defense and Resist ranges include products like the Antioxidant Pore Purifier and the skin Resorting Moisturizer SPF 50, which guard against blue light damage. Other popular skincare brands like Murad and Dr Sebagh Cosmetics, are coming out with protective products as well. Using a blue light screen protector also helps as well as certain glasses that protect against blue light We should also be limiting our screen time to during the day and not too close to bed time.
Treatments To Delay Damage
Here is a list of treatments that can help delay the damage from blue light exposure:
- Botox is one of the most popular ways to smooth wrinkles and fine lines to make the skin appear fresh and youthful. The treatment involves injecting the chemical into the specific facial muscles which are creating the wrinkle, causing them to relax and the skin on top of it to become smooth. This is especially popular for reducing the appearance of brow wrinkles, crow’s feet and frown lines. One set of non-invasive injections takes around 15 minutes with minimal recovery time. Session costs vary, but are typically around $400 on average.
- Microneedling can be used to stimulate and regenerate the layers of our skin by increasing the speed in which new cells are created. The process is relatively painless as the skin is numbed prior to the procedure. It usually takes 3-6 sessions to see results and each session costs about $400.
- Hylauronic Acid is in many skin care products. It is a naturally occurring substance in the human body that lubricates joints and helps aid the bodies natural healing process. There are some studies that indicate it can be used to reduce signs of aging in the skin as well. Hyaluronic acid is often used in filler products like Juvéderm Ultra Plus Allergan which can help reduce fine lines and wrinkles in the face when injected and massaged into lines. Results are typically visible after 2-3 weeks and can cost an average of around $600.
- Hydra Facials are another popular solution for those wanting to reverse the signs of light damage and aging. It’s a 3 step process that includes cleansing, exfoliating, and intense moisturizing with a special serum. The result is softer, supple, youthful looking skin. Each treatment takes about a half an hour and repeat treatments are suggested. A single treatment will cost you around $ 150.
- Thread Lifts are becoming more popular due to the fact that it is less invasive than a regular face lift. Rather than having skin removed to reduce sagging and wrinkles, the doctor carefully inserts threads into the face which then suspends the skin in a way of minimizing the effects of time and gravity by reducing sagging giving the face a lifted appearance. Thread lifts are performed under local anesthetic and have little recovery time. The cost of a thread lift in the U. S is currently around $2500.
In addition to using blue light blocking products and having these treatments, we need to take time out from using our phones and looking at screens all day. Always make sure to use sunscreen daily, because even if the sun isn’t out, the rays are still there and we need to protect our skin now more than ever. Sleep, diet, hydration and exercise are equally important to fight the signs of aging.
Thankfully as technology evolves so do the skin care treatments that can help us slow down the damage to our skin. I would like to credit the website AEDIT.com with giving me a lot of this information. Their site is full of information on the latest trends in beauty and aesthetics so I highly recommend you check them out. I have their site linked above. Thanks for reading and as always, please comment below with any thoughts or questions.
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