Whenever I think of the colour blue, my mind would often visualise a serene view of a clear blue sky or crystal blue waves crashing at the beach and almost immediately be overcome with a sense of peace and calm.
Then again, this should be common knowledge by now that blue is widely known for its tremendous cooling and relaxing attributes which directly contribute to a number of positive psychological impacts. Among them are reducing anxiety, slowing down heart rate and lowering blood pressure.
Which probably explains why I subconsciously incorporate this soothing hue into my everyday items including my laptop, water bottle, backpack right down to my earphones.
Blue light, however, is an entirely different matter.
While we have earlier established that the colour is closely associated to tranquility and stability, exposing yourself to too much blue light is, in actuality, a lot more damaging than you think.
What is blue light exactly?
Blue light, or better known as high-energy visible (HEV) light, not only comes from the sun’s rays but is also emitted from a plethora of electronics with screens.
We are talking about devices like your computers, tablets and smartphones, with statistics from numerous studies and reports in 2020 showing most people spend around a staggering three hours and 15 minutes on their phones daily. This translates to an average 50 days of screen time a year!
No doubt these are all pointing towards a rightfully concerning screen addiction phenomenon, now further fuelled by the second and third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic that is forcing most of the world to stay at home and ultimately turning to their gadgets to pass those long, restless hours indoors.
The blue light effect
Even before the corona virus outbreak, blue light has already gained quite the reputation for bringing about a series of detrimental effects to our physical and mental health.
As screen time continues to soar amidst the MCO 2.0 predicament, so does our exposure to artificial blue light thus contributing to poor eyesight, disruptive sleeping-and-wake cycle that is said to be linked to various health risks.
And if the initial concerns surrounding this pervasive enemy aren’t enough, it turns out that HEV light poses a lot more danger to our skin than ultraviolet (UV) rays!
Sure, we all know the importance of slathering on sunscreen before stepping out of the house but we also need to take into account that HEV light has the ability to penetrate the skin’s layer more deeply as compared to UVA/UVBdue to its shorter wavelengths and higher amount of energy.
As a result, our skin is more vulnerable than ever to oxidative stress, leading to inflammation and collagen degeneration—especially seeing how many of us hold our digital devices exceptionally close to our face.
So if you are guilty of going to bed and waking up with your smartphone in hand (like most of us) and do not wish to fall under the 64-percent of people who are completely unaware of the blue light’s impact on the skin (as unveiled by a Unilever study in 2020), then read on.
Beating the screen blues
1. For starters, make a conscious effort to monitor your screen time. Most smartphones now come with a built-in digital wellbeing feature that lets you take full control of your digital habits. This nifty feature will not only notify you on your usage times, it also allows you to set timers on frequently used apps and even block apps that you do not wish to receive alerts from when you are working or relaxing.
2. When you do find yourself interacting with your devices, bring the brightness of your screen down to the dimmest possible setting. And if your device has a “night mode” or “blue light filter” plugin, be sure to turn them on in favour of a darker screen and yellow light respectively to significantly reduce blue light emission and lessen eye fatigue.
3. Of course, there are days where taking frequent breaks from the screen is simply not an option (hours of virtual hangouts, replying endless emails, bingeing Netflix—the list goes on). If that is the case, consider investing in a good pair of computer classes with yellow-tinted lenses specifically designed to block out harsh blue lights, minimise digital eye strain and ease headache.
4. Beyond these precautions, you can take extra measures to better guard your skin from its ageing effects by prepping your face with blue light protection products. Take cover with a good mineral sunscreen (yes, even when you are indoor), specifically one with zinc oxide which can physically shield the skin against blue light and UV rays.
5. For double the protection, look into face products that are loaded with topical antioxidants such as vitamin C and E to assist in neutralising excess UV and visible blue light-generated free radicals before they can wreck more havoc to your complexion. We recommend blue-proofing your skincare regimen through your eye cream, serum and moisturiser.
6. Lastly, eating a nutritious diet that is rich in antioxidants is also a great way to boost the skin’s defense and support the health of your eyes. This involves dark green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach, and even yellow-orange foods like carrot and egg yolk. Supplements with blue-light guarding abilities are also worth consuming after your meal for enhanced protection from within.
Now that you are well educated on how to better protect yourself from this unsuspecting blue hue, time to get off your device, put these tips into good practice and of course, find a better way to pass time outside of your electronic screen.