Are screens ageing your skin?

Blue light is a hot topic in beauty circles right now and for a good reason. Editor Trudi Brewer gets a lesson in how it ages our skin.


According to Dr. Des Fernandes a South African plastic surgeon and founder of the professional skincare brand Environ, “Our skin is bombarded with light, and all of it is damaging to our health.” But what he is most concerned by is blue light known as HEV (high energy, high-frequency, visible light). It's emitted from the sky, LED light, indoor fluorescent lighting, smartphones, and computer screens. Most worrying is the harmful glow from screens that most of us are sitting in front of (on average 24 hours a week) it's aggressive and unavoidable. Why? Because it's the most invasive of all light on the invisible spectrum, and we can't feel it damaging our skin. To find out more read on.

I call blue light the silent agent. It’s not only damaging our sight, but it also makes pigmentation on the skin darker and hard to get rid of.
— Dr. Des Fernandes
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Editor Trudi Brewer with Dr. Des Fernandes on his recent trip to Auckland, NZ.

What does blue light do to our skin?

Blue light has fascinated me for many years. It penetrates deeply into the skin right down to where our collagen is made. It's an aggressive ray because it creates lots of free radicals. The colours range from violet through to blue, to green, and then orange and red, with red light on the healing side of the spectrum. In saying that all light creates free radicals, with blue particularly harmful, which is why we have always used blue light blocking antioxidant ingredients in our skincare.

How much blue light is too much for our skin?

That's impossible to say. Blue light comes from the light of the sky, as well as iridescent indoor light, and our smartphones and screens. It's broad-spectrum light, and the energy from it penetrates our organic system, not only damaging the skin but also our eyes. Our eyes can filter out most UV rays, at the lens, but not blue light. Studies have linked cataracts and age-related macular degeneration to blue light damage. I call blue light the silent agent. It's not only damaging our sight, but it also makes pigmentation on the skin darker and hard to get rid of.

What can we do to combat this light?

Eat a diet of cooked tomatoes (soup and sauces) which contains lutein and lycopene. As well as carotenoid-rich foods, brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, these help to give skin natural sun protection. Applying antioxidants topically, from your skincare is a must, as they help mop up the free radicals blue light generates. Wear an antioxidant-rich foundation, this is an excellent physical barrier to block this light from penetrating the skin.

What's new with Environ?

We are working on lots of different peptides (proteins). Skincare that offers tightening effects as well as improving our FLIB (facelift in a bottle) technology, which is exciting.

What about ingredients what’s hot right now?

I'm excited about molecules in ingredients, and their size, and the delivery systems for these ingredients, this is how to get them to penetrate the skin efficiently. Also, how these ingredients affect the genes in the skin, once we get them to penetrate. There is more an more on offer in this arena and it’s exciting.

Other than the sun, what else ages the skin?

Veganism is the next big problem; I'm very worried about the effects this diet has on the skin long term. A vegan diet means you can't make enough collagen naturally, to support the skin, (from a diet lacking animal protein). Most vegans skin is only just protein adequate, or protein deficient. If we are talking about anti-ageing ingredients to strengthen the skin and lessen the ageing process, we need vitamin A. It is still the gold standard anti-ageing ingredient, however, this vitamin can not be derived from plants, only animals, (which doesn't’ align with a vegan-only skincare routine). So, as far as boosting the skin with vitamin A to improve the signs of ageing, it's limiting for vegans.

Do you have the ultimate beauty tip to share?

What I always tell everyone, use vitamin A and antioxidant-enriched skincare. It is the answer to having youthful, healthy-looking skin for life.

Some of my favourite Environ skin care products for protecting, and perfecting the look of your skin.

Environ RAD SPF15, $63. Environ Antioxidant Gel, $68. Environ Antioxidant & Peptide Eye Gel, $70. Environ Focus Care Youth Tri BioBotanical Revival Masque, $105.