Over the past few years, many of us have increased our screen time – and with it our absorption of HEV light. But how is this affecting our skin? We take a look at the potential skin damage of HEV from blue light and how best to protect your skin from your screens…

Words: Rachel Tompkins | Images: Shutterstock

Despite being relatively unknown, HEV light has been found to influence skin conditions and can cause skin to age prematurely. While UV light penetrates the outer layers of the skin, HEV light penetrates the lower layers (the dermis). And unlike UVA and UVB, HEV light is not associated with skin cancer or sunburn. However, it is associated with ageing, as is UVA. It can also induce hyperpigmentation, and may contribute to age spots and sunspots.

Blue light creates free radicals on the surface of the skin that cause oxidative stress, resulting in a weakened skin barrier, along with damage to the fibres that keep your skin looking firm and smooth. ‘You need to protect your skin from HEV light as this penetrates the dermis and can cause premature ageing, wrinkles and damage,’ says Dr Rekha Tailor, founder of Health & Aesthetics and a former GP.

blue light skin damage protect HEV

Do blue light shields prevent skin damage?

While you can protect your skin with sunscreens and make-up designed specifically to shield against HEV blue light damage, another approach is to block it at the source. Ocushield screen protectors are blue-light blockers for computers and phones. These screen protectors block out 90 per cent of blue light wavelengths between 380nmand 420nm, and up to 40 per cent is blocked between 420nm and 500nm, without adding an orange or yellow tint and keeping your screen easy to read.

Dhruvin Patel, founder of Ocushield believes it’s better to eliminate the harmful blue light directly from the source of the screen for many reasons. ‘Users can stay protected even when not wearing sunscreen, which many of them don’t if indoors, especially for evening scrolling on Instagram. Also you have to keep your sunscreen topped up during the day and so the efficacy can vary as sweat and natural oils change the protection level, and creams require continuous product replenishment,’ he says.

Ocushield also makes non-prescription and prescription glasses, as well as clip-on lenses that block 95 per cent of blue light, reducing eyestrain and sleep disturbance. The lenses have a barely noticeable yellow pigment to absorb blue light and a special coating to repel blue rays, all while maintaining more than 95 per cent transparency. So you might want to wear these for computer work if you can’t add a screen protector, for example if you’re using other people’s equipment.

6 ways to prevent blue light skin damage

Protect your skin against damage from HEV blue light with these top tips and product recommendations…

blue light skin damage protect HEV

1. Wear a broad-spectrum SPF

PCA Skin Weightless Protection Broad Spectrum SPF 45 (£40) is fast-absorbing, super light weight, and ideal for oily or breakout-prone skin. Institut Esthederm Photo Reverse Tinted (£55) provides a sheet tint and is best used over moisturiser, while Murad City Skin Age Defense Broad Spectrum SPF50 (£60) glides on and also adds a sheet tint. Reapply every two hours if you are working with screens or are outdoors.

2. Choose a foundation with blue light filter technology

Some foundations include digital blue light filter technology, such as Milani Screen Queen Foundation (£16.50), which helps conceal signs of digital damage, including dullness, discolouration and hyperpigmentation.

3. Eat your antioxidants

These help fight free radicals and UV damage. Some key antioxidants are: lycopene, found in cooked tomatoes and in watermelon; beta carotene, found in spinach and cantaloupe; Omega-3, present in nuts, seeds and salmon, and catechins, a type of flavonoid, which is in green tea and apples. It’s also worth using skin creams containing antioxidants as these help support your skin from the outside.

4. Exfoliate your skin

Removing the dead skin cells helps new, healthy skin cells underneath to regenerate more quickly. Try fine AHA or BHA exfoliators rather than ones with large grainy particles, which can scratch and further damage the skin.

5. Block blue light from the source

Add an Ocusheild blue light screen (from £24.99) to your phone and computer to vastly reduce blue light at the source. New antibacterial screens for iPhone SE and 12 are available to pre-order (£29.99).

6. Stay hydrated

Plump your skin up by drinking two litres of water a day. You could also try a collagen powder or liquid drink, which can help to plump cells from within.

Related: How blue light affects your sleep and weight