While UVA/UVB rays remain the primary culprit in inflaming the skin, creating photo-damage and reducing the skins barrier function – aka increasing pigmentation, aging and sensitivity – there is now another form of harmful light we need to protect ourselves against.
“HEV (high energy visible) rays or ‘blue light’ are emitted from our screens (phones, laptops, tablets etc) as well as the sun,” says Kate Kerr, facialist at her eponymous clinic Kate Kerr London. “HEV light is just as damaging, if not more than UVA and UVB.”
“As a type of ‘visible light’, HEV rays or High Intensity Blue Light penetrates the skin more deeply UVB and UVA rays,” explains Dr. Anjali Mahto, Consultant Dermatologist at the Cadogan Clinic. “There is emerging scientific evidence which shows that HEV light has the potential to cause long-term damage to skin cells in the epidermis and dermis. This has the knock-on effect of causing DNA damage within these cells and activating that break down fibres that give the skin support,” continues Dr. Mahto. “Over time, this can result in fine lines, wrinkles, and premature ageing.”
The tricky thing is the effects are virtually undetectable on the surface. “HEV light causes silent damage as it does not trigger redness or swelling in the same way as ultraviolet radiation,” says Dr. Mahto.
So what can we do to avoid & prevent HEV light damage?
“We are all guilty of sitting on our phones or laptops late into the evening, often even in bed, once we’ve completed our skincare and make-up from the day,” admits Kate Kerr. “If you tend to do this as soon as you get home, reapply your sunscreen post-cleansing.”
“If you are on the phone, speak using earphones rather than having the handset near your ear,” continues the superfacialist. “The heat from using the phone against your cheek causes inflammation which activates melanin production and that can lead to hyperpigmentation and discolouration.”
You cannot cure sun damage; once it has infiltrated your cells, it can causes oxidative stress that causes change at a DNA level. What you can do is prevent and treat.
Prevention comes in the form of a broad-spectrum sunscreen, ideally mineral, and with an SPF 30 or above (personally, I prefer an SPF50). This needs to be reapplied during the day, particularly at the height of the afternoon. If, once home, you are switching from laptop to tv to mobile (just like the rest of us) then ensure you have applied another layer of sunscreen post-cleansing. For easy application, I love a mist.
Hydrabio Moisturising Anti-UV Mist £9.50
City Skin Age Defense Broad Spectrum SPF50 £45
UV Essentiel SPF50 £42
Sun Creme SPF50 £16
Prevage City Smart SPF50 Hydrating Shield £55
Oclipse Daily Sheer SPF50 £57
In terms of treatment, look out for Vitamin C, A, D & B3. All of these are best found in a serum or oil, where they can sit and absorb into the skin for a longer period than a cleanser. Vitamin C will brighten, helping to reduce the appearance and even out any pigmentation. Vitamin A, or Retinol, helps to stimulate collage, renew skin at a cellular level and stabilise free radicals. Vitamin D & B3 are both able to repair the skin barrier, soothing any inflammation and hydrating the epidermis. I would apply these in the evening, as sun exposure – even when covered by SPF – can irritate and destabilise the vitamins to varying degrees. The regenerative process the skin takes on during sleep will also benefit from the increased nourishment. “Lastly,” says Alessandra Steinherr, Beauty Director at GLAMOUR, “look out for a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant called Licochalone A, which is a plant extract derived from the roots of Chinese Liquorice. It supports the skin’s own protection mechanism against HEVL by defusing free radicals, and can often be found in effective sunscreens."
Power D £110
Toning Serum £75
Advanced Retinoid 2% £8
Metacell Renewal B3 £100.80
Fresh Pressed Vitamin C £25
Y Theorem Repair Serum £190
Resist Omega Complex Serum £32
You can definitely repair your skin barrier and lower any inflammation but you can only reduce the appearance of pigmentation through topical products. To fully remove pigmentation requires IPL or Fraxel laser treatments alongside deeper skin peels.
As HEV light is still a recent discovery, research is limited, but brands are slowly responding to what will be a growing concern in skincare. It’s either load up on your antioxidants and SPF, or give up your Instagram – we think we know what you will choose.
Dr Anjali Mahto is available for appointments at the .
Kate Kerr is available for appointments at .