If you feel digital detox is the way out, then allow us to tell you that it is not a fool-proof solution. With another lockdown making its way into our lives, our screen time is only likely to increase
Since last year, most part our time has been spent staring at screens — phone, laptops, TV, or tablets. Whether it is the work-from-home setup (thanks to the pandemic) or FOMO making us switch from one app to another, leading to mindless scrolling. According to the Smartphones and their impact on human relationships 2020 report commissioned and conducted by CMR, an Indian technology research firm, “there has been an 11 per cent increase from about 4.9 hours in 2019 to 5.5 hours in March 2020.”
But this increase in screen-time is directly proportional to a decrease in one’s health — watery eyes, headaches, back and neck problems, to name a few. But, have you ever thought about the impact blue light, which is emitted by the screens, has on your skin?
“Blue light or high energy visible light (HEV) is a high frequency, short-wavelength light (400-500nm) in the violet/blue bandwidth which is emitted by devices like smartphones, tablets, televisions, LCD screens, fluorescent and LED bulbs,” explained Dr Karishma Kagodu, Cosmetic Surgeon at Dr Karishma Aesthetic shares.
Adding to it, dermatologist Dr Kiran Lohia said unlike UVA/ UVB rays — which are well-researched and are known to cause issues such as pigmentation, freckling, tanning and wrinkles — “blue light is a new phenomenon with new technology that we are exposed to much frequently. This has different side effects like increased photosensitivity.”
‘Blue light penetrates deeper into the skin as compared to UVA/UVB light’
But how harmful is it? “Blue light penetrates deeper into the skin as compared to UVA/UVB light, thus it can be more active in inducing pigmentation as compared to UVA/UVB light (if exposure is for long durations),” cautioned Dr Kagodu.
But there is more to its effects. While ageing is a natural process, overexposure to blue light can expedite the process and also lead to photoaging, which is caused by exposure to light or UVA/UVB radiations. In fact, “exposing your skin to three hours of blue light can cause as much damage as one hour of sun exposure, without the sun protection,” Samir Modi, founder and managing director Colorbar Cosmetics, said.
Not only that, but blue light also causes oxidative damage which occurs when the skin is triggered by free radicals, or unstable oxygen molecules damaging healthy skin cells. “The unstable oxygen molecules ‘steal’ from nearby ones to stabilize themselves, creating more unstable molecules in the process,” explained Modi.
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Elucidating, Hinaa Khan, head of education, Dermalogica India said blue light harms us by breaking down collagen and thus darkening existing hyperpigmentation as well as triggering inflammation.
By now, we know about the potentially harmful effects of HEV, but Dr Kagodu pointed out that skin of colour is more prone to any kind of pigmentation, more so if it is exposed to longer durations/larger amounts of blue light. “Groups identifying to the skin of colour are affected with prolonged exposure to blue light because light causes increased tanning in darker skin individuals whereas, the skin burns for those with less melanin,” she told indianexpress.com.
How to take cover?
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If you feel digital detox is the way out, then allow us to tell you it is not a fool-proof solution. With another lockdown making its way into our lives, our screen time is only likely to increase. So what works best for the skin?
Dr Geeta Grewal, cosmetic surgeon and wellness expert, 9 Muses wellness clinic said: “Before you tweak your skincare regime, it’s important to cover your phones and computers with a blue light shield. Not only, that you can easily switch to dark/night mode and tone down the brightness too.”
Another way is to include topical antioxidants in the form of skincare. “Topical antioxidants such as sunscreens with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide work best against blue light,” shared Naina Ruhail, Co-founder, Vanity Wagon. Modi concurred and said products which have “an oxidative combination of beta-carotene, carrot root extract and carrot seed oil work great in protecting the skin.”
For Khan, it is overnight treatment serums that “can help to reduce the damage caused to the skin with blue light exposure. Ingredients such as Vitamin C Serum work amazing in enhancing the skin’s natural defence system to brighten, firm and dramatically reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles”. If the skin, however, is not protected with sunscreens during the day, “the results will be compromised.”
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Thus, if you are sincerely applying your sunscreen even when you are at home, you are doing the first bit towards protecting the skin.
For those with dry skin, Dr Grewal suggested using moisturizers rich in hyaluronic acid, glycerin, shea butter and ceramides. “All of this coupled with drinking water helps keep your barrier intact and in turn fight the HEV damage,” she said.
While topical treatments are essential. Dr Lohia stressed on the importance of including some of these ingredients in one’s diet as it will “automatically protect your skin from within.” It is best to include antioxidant-rich foods such as pomegranate, Gogi fruit, green tea, grape seed, rosehip, vitamin E or Vitamin B3 (niacinamide), he shared.
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