Although we know we should slather ourselves in SPF to protect our skin from the sunshine we basked in at Easter, science has uncovered yet another reason to avoid bright light.
This time, though, it’s not sunlight but blue light, known as High Energy Visible (HEV) light, that we should shy away from. Blue light? Yes, the sort given off by laptop, tablet and phone screens, on which we spend increasing amounts of time.
‘Studies have shown that blue light can induce oxidative stress in the skin,’ explains dermatologist Dr Stefanie Williams. Oxidation is the gradual damage to the skin that produces free radicals — unstable electrons which accelerate the skin’s ageing process.
Alice Hart-Davis revealed the best products for protecting skin against harmful rays including blue light and UVA (file image)
Blue light has a longer wavelength than UVA and UVB light, so it can penetrate skin more deeply and damage the cells’ DNA and the collagen and elastin that keep skin firm and supple. If the damage carries on long enough, it results in wrinkles. There is no outward sign it’s happening, either.
‘The effect of HEV light on skin is a recent discovery,’ says Boldijarre Koronczay, founder of Eminence Organics skincare. ‘But if you’re serious about skin health, protection from just UVA and UVB rays is no longer enough.
‘On average we get more than six hours of HEV light exposure each day, so an effective defence is paramount. HEV weakens the skin’s protective barrier and activates melanin production, which causes pigmentation.’
How much of a problem is this? ‘Scientific studies as recent as this year suggest such exposure may accelerate pigmentation changes and add fine lines and wrinkles,’ says Roshida Khanom, associate director of beauty and personal care at Mintel. ‘It’s clear from our research that most consumers are unaware of the damage HEV light is capable of doing to our skin.’
Limiting screen time benefits your health as well as your skin, as blue light suppresses production of the sleep hormone melatonin. See if your phone settings allow a ‘yellow light’ option and fix a blue-light protector to your devices.
The skincare industry has also found a way to help, with products that guard against blue light and limit its effects. This includes sunscreens with extra screening ingredients, and antioxidants to mop up free radicals. Here are the latest high-tech solutions . . .
THE ANTIOXIDANT POWERHOUSE
Eucerin Sun Anti-Age Face Fluid SPF30 or 50 (£20, boots.com)
Eucerin Sun Anti-Age Face Fluid SPF30 or 50 (pictured) uses extracts from the Chinese licorice plant to protect cells from excessive sunlight
Like UVA rays, HEV light penetrates the deeper layers of the skin and can generate free radicals, one of the main causes of ageing. These interfere with skin cells and break down the collagen and elastin. Eucerin’s special anti-HEV agent is a powerful antioxidant called Licochalcone A, which is anti-inflammatory, soothing and the sworn enemy of free radicals.
It is derived from the root of the Chinese licorice plant (Glycyrrhiza Inflata), which uses natural compounds to protect its cells from excessive sunlight.
It also helps to protect the deeper epidermal skin layers — those at risk from the long wavelength of blue light rays.
Clinical and dermatological research has proven that sunscreens containing Licochalcone A offer effective and extended protection from HEV light as well as from ultraviolet light.
THE QUADRUPLE PROTECTION POTION
Priori TETRA fx 251 Broad Spectrum SPF45 Color Guide (£75, prioriskincare.co.uk)
Priori TETRA fx 251 Broad Spectrum SPF45 Color Guide (pictured) is a high-tech sunscreen which is also able to protect skin from up to 43 per cent of HEV blue light
The latest sunscreen from this high-tech cosmeceutical skincare brand contains Priori’s unique ‘high-intensity radiation complex’, which uses the ingredients carnosine, soliberine and sepia melanin to block not just harmful infrared rays, but also 43 per cent of HEV blue light from everyday electronic devices.
Putting this together with antioxidants, DNA-shielding enzymes and sunscreen provides the skin with three additional layers of protection.
THE HIGH-TECH FACE DEFENDER
Teoxane Advanced Perfecting Shield SPF30 (£46, skincity.co.uk)
Teoxane Advanced Perfecting Shield SPF30 (pictured) is a lightweight moisturising sunscreen made from a range of ingredients that protect skin from HEV light, UVA and UVB
If you’ve heard of Teoxane, it’s probably because of its increasingly well-known range of injectable hyaluronic acid facial fillers.
But the brand also has a cracking range of highly scientific skincare products, of which the stand-out star is this moisturising sunscreen. It is lightweight, easy to apply and manages to give even protection without adding a ghostly sheen to your face.
Its full-spectrum sunscreen ingredients keep skin protected from HEV light as well as UVA and UVB.
THE NATURAL SKIN SHIELD
Eminence Organics Lilikoi Mineral Defense Moisturiser SPF33 (£59, theskinsmith.co.uk)
Eminence Organics Lilikoi Mineral Defense Moisturiser SPF33 (pictured) uses cocoa-seed extract to help prevent the breakdown of collagen and elastin
This new primer and moisturiser from one of Meghan Markle’s favourite skincare brands uses natural ingredients to shield the skin from environmental stressors such as HEV light and pollution.
The rich antioxidant and mineral SPF formulation feels lightweight for such a hard-working concoction. There’s cocoa-seed extract to help prevent the breakdown of collagen and elastin, and lilikoi (passion fruit) extract, rich in minerals and antioxidants, to help combat free radical damage and protect against oxidative stress.
THE ALGAE ALL-ROUNDER
Trilogy Multi-Shield Moisturiser SPF15 (£28.50, trilogyproducts.co.uk)
Trilogy Multi-Shield Moisturiser SPF15 (pictured) features Pepha-Age to help guard against the effects of blue light
It moisturises, it provides decent broad-spectrum protection from UVA and UVB rays and now, thanks to the inclusion of a new ingredient called Pepha-Age, it helps to guard against the damaging effects of blue light, too.
What’s Pepha-Age? It is, as you’d expect from ethical skincare brand Trilogy, derived from a natural source — freshwater algae, to be precise. It has been scientifically proven to boost the skin’s natural defences against blue light, thanks to its vitamin B3, zinc and amino acids.
THE MAGIC OF MARIGOLDS
Murad City Skin Age Defense Broad Spectrum SPF50 with Environmental Protection Technology (£60, murad.co.uk)
Murad City Skin Age Defense Broad Spectrum SPF50 with Environmental Protection Technology (pictured) protects skin from HEV light using lutein
The Environmental Protection Technology in this uses lutein, an antioxidant derived from marigolds that has been found to protect the skin from HEV light. It creates a barrier to stop the rays penetrating skin.
THE ANTI-POLLUTION TINTED VEIL
BareMinerals Complexion Rescue Defense SPF30 (£35, bareminerals.co.uk)
BareMinerals Complexion Rescue Defense SPF30 (pictured) hydrates skin whilst using cacao extract to protect against blue light and pollution
This hydrating serum protects the skin from indoor and outdoor light damage. It’s formulated with sustainably sourced cacao extract from Peru to protect against blue light, and sugar molecules to block pollution particles. It also has a tint for added radiance.
THE VITAMIN C BOOSTER BASE
The Hero Project Vit C-30 Ultra Brightening Serum (£39, hero project.com)
The Hero Project Vit C-30 Ultra Brightening Serum (pictured) is able to protect against environmental stressors in addition to free radical molecules created by blue light
This contains no sunscreen ingredients, but it does deliver a whopping great dose of vitamin C, formulated so that it is both stable and highly effective.
This will mop up free radical molecules created by blue light, and help defend the skin against other environmental stressors such as daylight and pollution.
Just remember to layer an effective sunscreen over the top.
Alice Hart-Davis created thetweakmentsguide.com
Additional research by Karen Heath