From tech neck to eye strain, the digital age is really the gift that keeps on giving when it comes to health impact. Unfortunately, early studies indicate that blue light exposure – digital or otherwise – can also affect our skin.
For beauty junkies, keeping free radicals and oxidative stress to a minimum currently means avoiding exposure to UV rays and urban pollution.
But should you also be limiting your screen time?
Hello! Fashion caught up with world-renowned facialist Sarah Chapman, who has worked with the likes of Meghan Markle, Victoria Beckham and Naomi Watts, to find out more about antioxidants, blue light and its potential impact on your skin.
What is blue light?
Blue light, part of the electromagnetic spectrum, is a high-energy, short-wavelength light. While it is closely associated with digital devices, it is also emitted by the sun. Unlike UVA and UVB rays, blue light is visible to the naked eye.
What is the potential skin impact?
"There's still a lot of research that needs to be done, but more and more studies are indicating that blue light can generate free radicals and lead to oxidative stress, just like UV rays and urban pollution," Sarah Chapman explains, "This then leads to hyperpigmentation and accelerated skin ageing."
Early studies indicate that blue light exposure can lead to oxidative damage in the skin. It penetrates deeper into the skin than UV rays and can accelerate collagen breakdown.
What is an antioxidant?
Antioxidants help protect the skin against oxidative damage caused by free radicals (unstable molecules that can harm cells) and environmental aggressors like UV and pollution.
"Oxidative stress is triggered when free radicals attach themselves to your skin cells: damaging your DNA, disrupting your skin barrier and degrading your previous collagen and elastic," explains Sarah says, "Topical antioxidants act as a line of defence, neutralising free radicals before they attack your skin."
"Not just collagen protectors, antioxidants are proven collagen boosters. They encourage collagen synthesis and slow its degradation, softening the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles over time and keeping the skin looking plump and youthful."
Examples of antioxidant ingredients include: niacinamide, polyphenols, ferulic acid and vitamins A, C and E.
Can blue light ever be good for you?
It's not all doom and gloom. Exposing your eyes to blue light via the sun in the morning plays a key role in regulating your circadian rhythm – your body's natural sleep-wake cycle. "This innate process is linked to your skin’s own cycles of renewal and repair, which keep your complexion healthy, balanced, and functioning as it should," Sarah says.
Alertness is great for the start of the day, but this goes both ways. Because blue light affects your circadian rhythm, late-night scrolling will predictably impact your ability to get to sleep.
How can you protect your skin against blue light?
Wearing a physical (also known as mineral) sunscreen can help fend off blue light, especially those that contain ingredients like zinc oxide. This sits on the skin's surface and deflects both UV rays and blue light.
Another approach is to strengthen your skin barrier. A healthy barrier protects your skin from environmental aggressors and retains moisture, and ingredients such as ceramides and squalane can make a world of difference.
And then, there are the ever-defensive antioxidants. "There have been brilliant innovations in the world of digital defence skincare and ingredients," Sarah says. "My Digital Shield and Digital Rest moisturisers combine potent antioxidants with specialised actives B-Circadin and Co-Biodefender EMR, which are specifically developed to fortify the skin against blue light and EMR-induced oxidative stress."
What inspired you to create the Digital Shield and Digital Rest?
"When I’m performing treatments at my clinic, I see first-hand how lifestyle shifts impact my clients’ skin," Sarah explains. "The realities of our modern, fast-paced lives mean we’re constantly exposed to free radicals from urban, domestic, digital and atmospheric pollutants."
"The increased time spent on devices is worrying the industry and showing initial concerns. Our skin is under constant attack. I formulated Digital Shield and Digital Rest to future-proof the skin against these unavoidable aggressors, delivering a complete 24-hour cycle of protection and restoration."
Digital Shield and Digital Rest are available to shop at Sarahchapman.com