The COVID-19 lockdowns worldwide have significantly increased the amount of time people spend looking at screens such as computers, laptops, smartphones and TVs.

A new study from Unilever reveals that blue light emitted from electronic devices can damage the skin as much or more than direct sun exposure.

The connection is obvious. Blue light is HEV (high energy visible light), a description that also covers UV rays. Most HEV light comes from the sun, but modern life has upped the dangers of exposure through our reliance on screens for work and leisure.

According to the multinational’s researchers, 60 per cent of consumers are spending more than six hours a day in front of a digital device.

The cumulative effect of five working days using a smartphone, laptop or desktop computer has the same skin-damaging effect of 25 minutes exposure to the midday sun without sunscreen protection.

Pigmentation caused by blue light can be immediate and/or long-lasting. The rays also increase the body’s level of stress hormones, disturb sleep patterns and over-stimulate nerves.

People who spend more than 30 hours a week in front of screens can also suffer from inflammation of the skin cells by up to 40 per cent – a major trigger of premature ageing.

In spite of the fact that many skincare brands in Asia and local companies such as The Jojoba Company and Endota Spa are releasing specialised skincare with blue light protection, Unilever says that 64 per cent of people surveyed were unaware of the effect blue light has on the skin.

Blue light can penetrate the skin far deeper than UV light, passing through the epidermis and dermis to the subcutis layer, reveals the Unilever report.

Consumers don’t have to buy skincare products badged with blue light claims. Products with high percentages of Vitamin C, Vitamin B6 and niacinamide help to combat the damaging effects of blue light.

Zinc oxide, usually found in sunscreens, also helps to neutralise or minimise blue light.

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