Blue light, also known as HEV or High Energy Visible light, is present everywhere, with sunlight as the largest source of it. Blue light is scattered when the shorter higher energy blue wavelengths interact with the air molecules, causing the sky to turn blue. Blue rays have shorter wavelengths producing more energy, making us more exposed to the hazards of blue light every day.
Human Exposure to Blue Light
Sunlight is the largest source of blue light; however, there are still other sources like:
- LED light
- Fluorescent light
- Flat-screen LED televisions
- Compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs
- Smartphones, tablet screen, computer monitors
While the amount of blue light from screens is relatively lower compared to the ones we get from sun exposure, the concern over the long-term impact of screen exposure is getting higher. This is mostly due to the close proximity and the duration of time spent on screens. With more kids now hooked on digital devices, their exposure to blue light is higher compared to those of adults.
And as it turns out, selfies are actually big contributors when it comes to higher exposure to blue light. It might be time to don a pair of glasses to protect your eyes from all that selfie blue light.
The Effects of Blue Light to Our Skin and Overall Health
Through its natural form, the body utilizes the sun’s blue light to manage our normal sleep and wake cycles, known as the circadian rhythm. Blue light also helps raise alertness, improve reaction times, enhance moods, and maximize the feeling of well-being. That is why sometimes seasonal depression happens, especially during the wintertime because of the absence of blue light.
Though blue light has positive effects on us, it has its negative share of effects. Too much exposure to this kind of light can cause harm to our eyes in the long run. It can damage the retina, which may cause macular degeneration in old age, also known as age-related macular degeneration or AMD, leading to blindness.
Overexposure to blue light affects our bodies' capability of producing melatonin—a hormone usually secreted at night to promote sleep—and it inhibits its production, causing sleeplessness or, worse, insomnia.
Long-term exposure to blue light can cause skin damage, promoting skin stressors that cause photoaging or ageing from exposure to light. When taking selfies, the screen of our devices is directly exposing our skin to blue light. Remember, all your techie mobile screens emit blue light; as such, more selfies mean more exposure.
New research has been released, suggesting that the light from our mobile phones can create immense damage to our skin. Blue light has some kind of magnetic field that is altering the skin's minerals.
Electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones contributes to the faster ageing of the skin by damaging the DNA structure. Breaks in the DNA strands occur, preventing the skin from repairing itself and producing oxidative stress on cells.
What We Can Do
So, should you swear off selfies? If you think about it, there is no concrete evidence that selfies can actually make you age faster, though it can be theoretically possible. This is even unsettling if you spend most of the day on an even bigger screen.
Nonetheless, there are some products that can help prevent or lessen exposure to blue light. Use sunscreens with mineral blocking components like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. These agents block off all wavelengths of light, regardless if we will be outdoors or not, helping to minimize the effect of blue light on our skin. Another solution is putting our phone’s screen into its dimmest setting, reducing our exposure to blue light.
Ordinary sunscreen cannot protect our skin from blue light exposure. However, one that contains iron oxide may help. Tinted primers enriched with marine algae fights free radicals. We may also ask our dermatologists on how to lessen our exposure to HEV to prevent premature ageing of the skin.