We all know at this point that sun damage is really terrible for the longevity of your skin (and health). But one thing I never considered that could possibly lead to skin damage is my cell phone, computer, and TV—specifically the blue light (the high energy visible, or HEV, light) from each.
According to recent research, long-term overexposure to blue light really can speed up signs of aging, from hyperpigmentation to inflammation to even premature fine lines and wrinkles. And while “long-term overexposure” sounds like a billion light-years away, think about how often you are staring at a screen throughout the day, whether you’re scrolling through Instagram, responding to emails, or watching Netflix. Pretty much the entire day unless you’re asleep, right? Sure sounds like long-term overexposure isn’t really that far away.
Thankfully, there are some pretty easy ways to incorporate protection from HEV into your daily life.
Starting (especially) with sunscreen. Traditional-formula sunscreens don’t have the complexity to protect you from tech light, but there are new formulas hitting the market that will not only protect you from UVA and UVB light, but also HEV. One of the most praised by users and dermatologists alike is Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Brush On SPF 50 ($65), which is the new, complex formula of the company’s famously great Brush On SPF 30.
“We’ve put together a unique, patented technology with a robust complex of specialty ingredients that, when combined in our Sunforgettable Total Protection Brush-On Shield formula, have the proven ability to prevent nearly 50 percent of free radical formation induced by UV+ pollution while also protecting skin from 93 to 98 percent of HEV (blue) light,” says Patricia Boland, director of product development and ideation at Colorescience.
Ninety-three to 98 percent coverage from blue light is incredibly extraordinary when you think of how much interaction you have with the tech light throughout the day. And beyond just the great coverage is the fact that it’s one of the easiest sunscreens to apply, thanks to it’s brush-on formula. You simply swipe the brush on your face, and a light powder (in four different shades) will look and feel like nothing but protect you from everything.
Also, one of the most important aspects of sunscreen is consistent reapplication to maintain the level of protection, and reapplication of a cream or liquid will most likely ruin your makeup application (and layers upon layers of sunscreen really don’t feel great on your face, right?). So a powder formula that feels like nothing is pretty revolutionary. I find that the Colorescience version even acts as a lightweight setting powder, helping rid me of midday oily skin while also protecting me.
Celebrity cosmetic dermatologist and surgeon (and a major pioneer in skin-care advancements) Patricia Wexler is a big fan of the Colorescience brush-on sunscreen, too. (She’s also regularly known to go out in the sun with a sun umbrella to make sure she’s entirely protected.)
“This mineral-based, chemical-free sunscreen powder is always in my bag—it brushes on easily, allowing me to reapply constantly throughout the day without having to rub on another layer of lotion,” says Wexler. “It has the added benefit of absorbing oil and giving my skin a matte, smooth finish.”
Beyond just the sunscreen, there are a few other things you can add to your daily routine to minimize blue light interactions:
Shift your phone to night mode close to bedtime when it’s darker in your room or home. It disables blue light in favor of yellow light, which is far easier on the eyes and your skin.
Cover your phone with a blue light screen shield. It helps eliminate your blue light interaction throughout the day (similar to the night mode, but available and easy to use during the day). Phone shields are around $7 and computer screen shields can start around $10.
When in doubt, if you don’t have a screen shield, view your phone at arm’s length.
“We are seeing more and more studies illustrating the harmful effects of light beyond UVB and UVA, into the HEV and IR part of the spectrum,” says Boland. “The free radicals that form as a result of this comprehensive radiation can lead to advanced skin aging and potentially more serious health risks. Our skin is our largest organ and it’s important to protect all exposed areas from the damaging effects of free radicals.”