When it comes to photo-ageing, most are already caught up on the harmful effects of UVA and UVB rays. The beauty market is saturated with sunscreens and restorative beauty products to avoid and recover from sun damage, respectively. But as far as market trends go, another equally nefarious sinner leads to photo-damage of the skin, and that is blue light.
“Blue light, also known as High Energy Visible Light (HEV), are rays emitted in the visible spectrum. It has a wavelength of 450-495 nm, which can penetrate the layers of the skin, causing oxidative stress by releasing free radicals,” reveals Dr Gulhima Arora, Senior Consultant Dermatologist and Director, Mehektagul Dermaclinic, New Delhi. She further explains that these free radicals are responsible for the accelerated damage to the elastin and collagen fibres in the skin by stimulating the enzymes that increase their breakdown, cause damage to the DNA and disturb the skin barrier. Also, excessive blue light damage can lead to premature ageing, cell death, increased pigmentation, blotchiness, uneven skin tone and dullness. “Exposures as less as 60 min can trigger damage to the skin”, she elaborates.
Just How Damaging Can Blue Light Really Be?
Like most skincare trends, the jury’s still out on the need for blue light protection in beauty products. But what many fail to realise is that there are numerous blue light sources that you get exposed to each day. Even though sunlight is the main source of blue light emission, some scientists believe it to be a small part. Device screens are considered one of the major contributors to blue light emission and considering their rampant use, they can be quite harmful. Artificial lights, especially fluorescent and LED lights, are another source.
Another warning sign is the loss in the ozone layer leading to excess rays hitting the earth’s surface. This has led to increased exposure in terms of quantities to HEV. “Not just theoretically, but practically as well we are seeing patients with exaggerated pigmentation issues, premature wrinkling, uneven skin tone, and post-acne redness,” reveals Dr Gulhima. Owing to its ability to penetrate to the deepest layers of the skin where collagen and elastin reside, blue light’s uncanny ability to penetrate deeply is why it is today being touted as a serious concern.
The Popularity Of Blue Light Protection Skincare
Improved awareness about blue light damage and actual damage seen by experts working closely with skin have led cosmetic scientists on the warpath to research the technology. The market trends are proof as well. “Unfortunately, regular sunscreens are ineffective in tackling blue light. The demand for blue light protection has thus increased owing to improved awareness and information of its harmful effects coming in,” reveals Dr Merin Liza Jacob, Co-founder of Green and Beige skincare. The recent pandemic, which made existing in the virtual world a new normal, is also to blame for overexposure to screens for work and pleasure. In addition to this, power-saving LED lighting is becoming exceedingly common in workplaces and homes nowadays.
How Exactly Does Blue Light Protection Work?
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Products formulated with blue light protection contain active ingredients that can block or absorb HEV (390-500 nm) and protect the skin’s photoreceptors. They also have a high antioxidant capacity to reduce the production of free radicals, which are believed to hasten the ageing process. “Capsicum Annuum fruit extract, a potent antioxidant with HEV (390 nm to 500 nm) absorption capacity, is used in the Green And Beige face care collection to protect skin from the detrimental effects of blue light,” reveals Dr Merin.
Dr Gulhima recommended watching out for a couple of more ingredients while making your pick. “Iron oxide is the most potent filter apart from titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. These are the most common ingredients in tinted sunscreens.” She further recommends antioxidants like vitamin C and E, and ferulic acid to help protect the skin from the oxidative damage caused by blue light. “Botanicals like marigold, carrots, cocoa seeds, ginger, and lycopene are all gaining popularity as armours for blue light protection,” she says. Certain vitamins like niacinamide can also help with blue light protection.
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In conclusion, blue light protection beauty products can offer management of issues like wrinkle minimizing, tackling hyperpigmentation, de-accelerate skin ageing and even help with under-eye care. But what about blue-light protection in makeup? Dr Gulhima has an insight into that as well. “I think it is a good idea to incorporate it in makeup. The main filters can easily be incorporated since they are tinted in pigment bases like foundations, concealers, BB and CC creams. Makeup is often the last layer of the application over skincare products, and re-applying skincare over it is often not practical. Hence incorporating these ingredients is like a final shield,” she said while signing off!