How to screen-proof your skin to prevent fine lines, pigmentation and wrinkles

You’ve likely spent the last year working, reading, playing, watching and chatting on your phone, laptop or tablet, so your screen time levels are probably at an all-time high. Blue light can penetrate to the deeper layers of the skin, which can break down collagen and elastin, accelerating ageing and inflammation in the skin cells. We spoke to the pros to figure out all the best ways to prevent harm, especially because it is damage you may not be able to physically see.

How does blue light affect the skin?

Dermatologist Dr Geetika Mittal Gupta, founder ISAAC Luxe cautions us about the blue light exposure. “Exposing your skin to three hours of blue light can cause as much damage as one hour of sun exposure in direct sunlight. Compared to UV rays, blue light is capable of penetrating even deeper into the skin, where oxidative stress triggered by free radicals, or unstable oxygen molecules, can damage healthy skin cells. The unstable oxygen molecules ‘steal’ from nearby ones to stabilise themselves, creating more unstable molecules in the process,” she says. Blue light is also referred to as High Energy Visible or HEV light.

Blue light can penetrate all the way to our dermis, where our collagen and elastin is. It also generates free radicals that are harmful to the skin. Blue light results in hyperpigmentation, slow healing of acne pigmentation (and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation) as well as the weakening of elastic fibres and degradation of collagen.

“Long-term exposure to concentrated blue light energy can cause skin damage, including colour changes, inflammation, and weakening of the skin’s surface. Simply put, blue light promotes stressors in the skin that cause photo-ageing; that is, ageing from exposure to light,” adds Dr Gupta. Some research shows that exposure to blue light in the evening can actually throw the skin’s natural circadian rhythm out of sync. It can cause skin cells to continue to think it may be daytime, which can impact their natural nighttime repair process.

How to screen-proof your skin

Ideally, limiting screen time is important. But when you’re spending all your time working and playing on your phone or computer, it can be difficult to do. Dr Gupta suggests switching to night mood and turning the brightness down, as well as investing in screen guards.

When it comes to skincare, applying topical antioxidants is important. Oxidative stress breaks down collagen, hinders skin’s natural repair process and triggers inflammation, which shows up on the skin as fine lines, wrinkles, acne and a blotchy skin tone. By scavenging free radicals, antioxidants can help prevent and correct these. If you already wear sunscreen, then you’re on the right track. SPF products usually have zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which help block some amount of blue light as they block UVA and UVB rays.

Prasanthy Gurugubelli, a clean beauty formulator, and founder of beauty brand Daughter Earth, speaks to the concept of ‘cascading’ of free radicals or Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) which is being considered by scientists and formulators working on blue-light protection. “Cascading basically means a type of free radical that, if not quenched, can transform into a much worse free radical and so on. There are six types of ROS. So we need activities that are proven to limit all these six types of antioxidants,” she says. She says that sea buckthorn is super potent, and is shown to improve elasticity, reduce pigmentation and boost collagen growth. According to Dr Gupta, you could also watch out for ingredients like Glycine Soja (soybean oil), Polyglyceryl-3 Diisostearate, Oryza Sativ Germ Extract (rice), all of which boost the skin’s defence system.

The article was first published in Vogue


  • Aparrna Gupta

    Transitioning from crafting stories for The Asian Age and Bombay Times to setting beauty trends in Verve, Aparrna Gupta’s journey has always revolved around resonant storytelling. Her prowess in content creation is unparalleled, with articles featured in renowned publications like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, L’Officiel India, Lifestyle Asia, Elle, and Femina. She also excels in content ideation, trend identification, mood board creation, and product styling. Her expertise has proven invaluable to homegrown brands, enabling them to authentically connect with their audience.

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