Out Of The Blue
T Singapore: The New York Times Style Magazine|June 2019
Out Of The Blue

Is blue light really ageing your skin?

WHEN JONI MITCHELL sang about the “blue TV screen light” way back in 1971, she would not have possibly known that along with cigarettes and UV exposure, that screen time was yet another possible cause of skin ageing. While UV rays, cigarettes and pollution have long been the usual suspects of skin ageing (thanks to extensive studies), you can now add one more thing to the list: the blue light emitted from the electronic and digital devices we use daily.

Blue light is short, high-energy wavelengths on the blue end of the visible light spectrum, and while a lot of it actually comes from the sun, it is also emitted from the LED lights found in our TVs, smartphones, tablets and computers. And for everyone who has dared to glimpse at their weekly screen time on their phones, or who spends at least 40 hours in front of the computer each work week, this is not mere incidental exposure, but an integral, long-term routine in our modern lives. It is generally acknowledged, and pretty well documented, that daytime exposure to some blue light has its benefits — it’s a mood-lifter, helps memory and boosts mental alertness. On the flip side, researchers from Harvard have reported on the dark side of blue light exposure at night: it suppresses melatonin — a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycles — in the skin for twice as long as green light. This is is why it is generally recommended that you stay away from your screens for at least a few hours before bedtime. Circadian rhythm aside, the blue light’s true impact on skin and the ageing process has not been definitively pinpointed. This, however, has not stopped some skincare brands from creating products to protect skin against this potential new threat.


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June 2019