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You Won't Believe What Your Laptop Is Doing to Your Skin

Woman on laptop

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How bad are our electronic devices for our health? Let us count the ways: We’ve been told time and again how much sitting at our computer is killing us, not to mention the major impact blue light has on our sleep patterns. Staying mindful and anxiety-free? Not so easy when you’re logging countless hours on the Internet, it turns out. And now, add this to the laundry list: Your screen time could be taking a major toll on your skin, in a way that’s equivalent (and in some ways worse) than sun damage. Just… great.

What Is HEV Light?

The culprit is high-energy visible (or HEV) light, commonly known as the blue light emitted from your TV, computer, and smartphone. According to Paula Begoun of Paula's Choice Skincare, while HEV light is like UVA and UVB sun rays, "threat from blue light doesn’t stop when the sun goes down." HEV light (blue light) is mainly sourced from sunlight but is emitted from electronic devices at a range from 380 nm to 500 nm (nanometre). Per the Paula's Choice website, the scientific jury is still out on the exact range that causes skin damage, but some have determined that the 400-450 nm is the hot spot. A 2019 study conducted by Unilever even compared an eight-hour workday in front of the computer to 20 minutes in the mid-afternoon sun.

Is HEV Light Bad for Your Skin?

Because these devices became indispensable to our lifestyles so quickly (remember the days when you didn’t check your cell phone every five minutes, like 10 years ago?), research on the specific effects of HEV light is still developing. But what scientists do know is that this light penetrates skin more deeply than UV rays, and studies on the way HEV impacts DNA leads them to believe that it could accelerate photo-aging—the skin changes commonly associated with sun damage. Even without concrete answers about the extent of this damage, it’s pretty terrifying, considering how long we’ve gone without knowing this and subsequently taking the opportunity to protect ourselves. 

But much like we can’t exactly avoid the sun at all times, our computers, while not a great source of vitamin D, are a pretty essential source of our livelihood (also important). The good news is that the beauty industry is slowly taking steps to protect our skin from damaging electronic light in the same way that it tackles UV rays: with protectant creams.

How Can I Protect Myself Against HEV Light Rays?

Make Beauty is one of the first brands to own this small but surely soon-to-be-mighty corner of the market, through the release of its Moonlight Primer. The marine-infused moisturizer and makeup base is specially formulated to shield against HEV light. “We use a vegetal source of melanin, an edible marine algae, and a fraction of shea butter that work as a biological active complex that not only protects against HEV light and the effects of Infrared, or IR light but also against environmental pollutants: soot, car exhaust, free radicals, and general urban grime,” says the brand’s creative director, Ariana Mouyiaris. 

Make Beauty Moonlight Primer $55
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Funny enough, HEV and infrared (IR) light weren’t originally factors in the beginning stages of the Moonlight Primer’s creation—Mouyiaris sought to develop a product that would aid with her vitamin D deficiency. “Living between London and New York, my levels became very low in the winter,” she explains. “I use sunscreen in most sunlight conditions, regardless of the season, but while protecting myself with SPF against the sun, I wasn’t able to synthesize the positive aspects of light. Without good levels of vitamin D, your circadian rhythm, sleep, and immunity are compromised, and I wanted to create a product that could help address this: to protect my skin from pre-aging but to also help me synthesize vitamin D.” Soon, she says, discussion turned to protection from these other elements (electronically emitted light, as well as other pollutants that are products of our modern environment), which hadn’t really been part of the skincare conversation before. 

The finished product does it all—and it’s definitely worth noting that it does so with only natural and allergen- and cruelty-free ingredients. For example, Mouyiaris and her team settled on chicory root extract as the best plant-based way for the formula to promote vitamin D synthesis. And because this would all be rendered irrelevant if the Moonlight Primer didn’t deliver on application, we’re happy to report that it has a gloriously matte, velvety texture that layers easily with other products

All in all, it’s a must-have for the complexion-conscious modern woman (or man). But why is it one of the only options out there? Mouyiaris predicts that this won’t be the case for long, even if Make got there first. “New information and studies are always being done,” she says. “It is one thing to be aware of an issue and another for material suppliers and chemistry labs to try and develop things to address the issues. We are lucky that we have an incredible in-house skincare lab that works with the latest technology and actives. We were really excited to develop something that we’d never seen before that would be so relevant to how we live today.” In the meantime, consider this primer as essential as your daily SPF—and lather up.

Are There Any Other Ways to Protect From HEV Light?

In addition to Make Beauty's Moonlight Primer ($55), you can purchase computer glasses, which block the blue light emitted from your laptop. However, we should note, the scientific jury is also still out on whether or not blue light lenses are effective. However, there are now serums and skin tints that give your skin a dose of good stuff like vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide but keep your skin protected from blue light. 

Foster's Lab
Foster's Lab Anti-Tech Serum $68
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Foster's Lab's "all-in-one" serum does everything you'd hope for in a skincare product. It protects, brightens, and stimulate collagen.

ILIA
ILIA Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40 $46
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You can skip your serum routine on days when you apply this skin tint, and best of all, the SPF 40 will protect your skin from blue light and beyond.

Glowscreen SPF 40
Supergoop Glowscreen SPF 40 $17
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We all love the plumping effects of hyaluronic acid, and it's even better when you have a product that plumps, primes, and protects.

The Final Takeaway

Take steps to protect yourself against HEV light as seriously as you would UV rays on a beach day. You have several options to protect yourself from the blue light, so just be sure to research what is best for you and what you'd prefer.

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