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What is HEV light?

If you picture a rainbow in your mind’s eye and zoom in on the blue-indigo-violet rays, that’s what we call High Energy Visible or HEV light. Also called “blue light”, these high frequency, short wavelength rays are second in strength only to ultraviolet light.

Ultraviolet or UV rays from sunlight (and UV lighting such as in tanning beds) are invisible and are proven to cause skin cancer. HEV light is visible and has yet to be proven to have any link to skin cancer.

But lots of people and experts are increasingly asking an important question about HEV light. Widespread and powerful as it is, can cumulative exposure to HEV light over time contribute to other skin problems, such as premature aging?

How are we exposed to HEV light?

When you’re exposed to daylight, you’re exposed to HEV light, to blue light rays along with UV rays and all the others. But the concern about HEV light is its presence in so many indoor areas and activities in our daily lives as well.

Just think about it.

Smartphones, laptops, tablets, monitors, big-screen LED TVs, fluorescent lights, they all emit HEV light. It’s not surprising that more and more of us are wondering what long-term, heavy exposure to all that may mean to our skin down the line.

How harmful is HEV light?

As stated, there’s no evidence at this time that HEV light causes skin cancer. Dermatologists are in broad agreement about that. But there’s some early evidence to suggest that prolonged, sustained exposure to blue light can contribute to pigmentation problems for people with darker complexions. And there’s reason to believe that visible blue light may indeed accelerate aging.

So, while some of the worries about HEV light have no doubt been driven by a cosmetics industry always on the lookout for new problems to solve, there remains reason for some common-sense concern. If only because all the evidence is not in.

it’s fair to say that chronic exposure to blue light may interfere with the ways that collagen and elastin combine to give our skin its strength and elasticity. That raises questions about the long-term health and appearance of our skin.

What do we do now? (Besides putting our phones down now and then)

A number of companies, such as ZO Skin Health, have developed a new generation of genuinely broad-spectrum, HEV light-blocking sunscreens. Most people get more exposure to HEV light from the sun (and overhead fluorescent and LED lights) than from their smartphones anyway. If you want total protection, these products are a good option.

Other companies are focused on using special filters to block blue light emissions from our electronic device screens. There are also HEV light filters for eyeglasses now. Because HEV light can damage the retina of the eye and increase the risk of macular degeneration, these are well worth looking into. But it’s unclear how much they’ll protect your skin.

When it comes to minimizing potential risks to your skin, don’t overlook the obvious. You can limit exposure to blue light by limiting your total screen time daily (Good Luck!).  This is especially important after about 10 PM. IT’s the overnight hours starting by about 11 PM, when maximum cellular repair and renewal of our skin occurs.

It also won’t hurt to see if your desktop, laptop, tablet, phone, etc. will let you manually adjust the display/screen settings to emit a lower level of blue light.

Last but not least…eating antioxidant-rich foods, and regularly using a high quality face cream are a couple of other easy measures that can help neutralize any premature aging effects of HEV light over the long haul.

If you believe you’ve already suffered visible light damage to your skin, you may want to explore cosmetic treatments that can help reverse the signs of that damage. Aesthetic services such as laser skin resurfacing and facials can help the cause, big time.

And so, no need to panic – or anything close to it – about the HEV light threat. Time and further study will tell how extensive and serious it truly is. In the meantime, there are plenty of preventive and corrective measures to take, just in case.


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