Screen Time Causes Accelerated Skin Aging, and What You Can Do About It

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How many hours a day are you exposed to screen time, or synthetic light? The answer to this question may determine the rate at which your skin ages through something known as "digital stress" caused by unnatural levels of exposure to blue light. But don't worry, there are a number of solutions you can employ immediately.

Did you know that “digital stress” is a newly identified form of cosmetic stress related to chronic exposure to blue light? And that this blue light has adverse effects to human skin similar to radiation exposure we get from sunlight through UVA rays? 

Blue light vibrates within the 380-500 nanometer range, and about one-third of the visible light we are exposed to, daily, is considered blue. Whereas sunlight, traditionally, has been the biggest source of blue light, long hours inside and in proximity to synthetic light sources is eclipsing natural blue light exposure for an increasingly larger segment of the population.

Everyone knows about sunburn, a form of “photoaging” associated with premature wrinkles and redness, but few realize that you can get something quite akin to this through ‘electronic burn.’ 

Blue light exposure has been linked to a wide range of health problems, with 26 of them indexed on alone. And this is by no means an exhaustive list, as the research on blue light harms has been accumulating rapidly over the past few years – too fast for us to catch up with, quite frankly. 

One of the obvious problems with synthetic blue light is the route of exposure: the eyes, which provide direct access to the nervous system, and in turn, innate regulatory processes such as circadian rhythms that affect all aspects of our physiology. Blue light, therefore, is one of the primary toxic exposures we face in the modern age, and at the least, needs to be balanced out with other wavelengths on the electromagnetic spectrum, including red light, which is undergoing a sort of Renaissance in the bio-hacking and natural health space due to all of its amazing, evidence-based health benefits. 

While there is a growing awareness that blue light is a problem (consider that blue light filters are now standard offerings at lens crafters around the world, as well as blue-blocking software such as Night Shift in Apple products, or common apps like Flux on your web browser), what is not often emphasized is the role that this new form of blue light mediated “digital stress” is having on accelerated aging, including aging skin. 

According to a new study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences titled, “Gardenia jasminoides Extract, with a Melatonin-like Activity, Protects against Digital Stress and Reverses Signs of Aging,” not only is accelerating aging indeed a new and highly deleterious consequence of living a modern life immersed, continually, in artificial blue exposure (LEDs in TVs, smartphones, and tablets emit wavelengths between 400 and 490 nanometers), but topically applied compounds within an evergreen flowering plant in the coffee family Rubiacea known commonly as gardenia and cape jasmine (Gardenia jasminoides) are protective against these adverse exposures. 

Researchers identified this extract for its potential therapeutic properties because it “had specific absorption in the range of blue light (400 to 490 nm) and that could be used as a blue light filter to protect the skin against digital stress.” 

Additionally, the researchers offered the following explanation for why it was selected was offered: 

"Moreover, this plant extract was traditionally used in folk medicine and in traditional Chinese medicine to treat inflammation, headache, edema, fever, hepatic disorders, and hypertension, evidencing its skin benefits."

While the anti-aging benefits of this botanical have been previously demonstrated, it has not been studied for digital stress and melatonin cycle preservation. 

The researchers also wanted to see if the mitochondrial damage and dysregulation known to be caused by blue light exposure could be mitigated with this plant extract. 

The researchers discovered the following promising results: 

  • Blue light damage reversed: “We demonstrated that the damage caused by blue light irradiation was significantly reversed in the presence of the extract. Indeed, the mitochondrial network was significantly less fragmented, and the cell spreading was significantly restored, thus indicating decreased cell stress. Therefore, the extract protected the mitochondria against digital stress.”

  • Anti-Oxidant:  the presence of the extract when topically applied on skin explants, we observed a significant decrease [in oxidation] by 81% and 86% with 0.002% and 0.004% extract, respectively. These results confirmed that the filtering effect of the extract provided strong protection against blue light.

  • Melatonin Cycle Protectant: In the presence of the extract, the melatonin cycle was preserved, and its level was significantly higher than that in the blue light control.

  • Melatonin-Like Properties of Crocetin: “We demonstrated that crocetin had an affinity score close to that of melatonin, thereby indicating the potential melatonin-like activity of the extract.”

  • Human Clinical Study Validation: "We then extended our investigation to an in vivo study by designing an innovative experimental protocol in which volunteers were exposed for at least 4 h per day to digital devices (with 100% luminosity). After 56 days of a twice-daily application of the extract, we observed a significant decrease in the number of crow’s feet, whereas the placebo did not show any effect. The difference between the active and placebo groups was significant."

The researchers concluded: 

"Thus, we conclude that the extract is a 2-in-1 cosmetic ingredient that can protect against digital stress, preserve the natural melatonin cycle, and act as a melatonin-like molecule that decreases the signs of aging."

In conclusion, this study highlights two important discoveries. First, that blue light is a ubiquitous source of accelerated photo-aging in modern populations, and something we should minimize as much as possible. Second, natural botanical extracts can help us to minimize the harmful effects of these non-native electromagnetic wavelengths (note: we have identified over 130 adverse health effects linked to synthetic EMF exposure). 

Finally, it behooves us to consume a diet rich in antioxidants and chlorophyll, as we know that these compounds are able to help protect us from adverse EMF exposures, from the inside out. In fact, chlorophyll enables us to harvest photonic energy within our mitochondria effectively enabling us to "eat sunlight," whereas melanin (including bio-melanin from the plants and fungi we ingest) can both protect and transduce the entire spectrum of EMF in our environment (from gamma rays to x-rays) in a way that is truly astounding from the perspective of health benefits. You can learn more by reading this chapter of my book titled: The Power and Mystery of Melanin Explained.

As you may know, contains over 10,000 distinct topics, one of which includes natural substances that mitigate Photo-Aging. You can review the literature here for more ideas on ways to address this universal, yet underreported reason for accelerated aging. 

Remember, REGENERATION is your birthright. I’ve dedicated much of my work to helping you understand both the causes and the methods required to REVERSE accelerated biological aging in my international best-selling book REGENERATE: Unlocking Your Body’s Radical Resilience with the New Biology, and my popular REGENERATE YOURSELF masterclass.

I hope you take advantage of these resources and learn how to become the healthiest, happiest, and best version of yourself in these challenging times!

Additional resources and recommendations: 

  • SKIN PROTECTION: One age-defying topical cosmetic we are fond of at is produced by Purity Labs and contains ingredients with potent antioxidant and skin-protecting ingredients. Learn more here now
  • RED LIGHT DEFICIENCY: From time immemorial humanity has been exposed to the full electromagnetic spectrum, from dawn to dusk. The red wavelengths are especially crucial to our circadian rhythms, our mood, our metabolism, and our mitochondrial health in general, to name but a few of the many benefits of this essential factor in our overall health. Learn more about RED LIGHT THERAPY's incredible benefits by watching our recent interview with one of the world's foremost experts on the topic, Michael R Hamblin Ph.D., who has over 750 published peer-reviewed and published studies to his name. 
  • AGE REVERSAL: Did you know that doing something as simple as stopping smoking can cause up to a 13 year reversal in the biological age of your skin after only 9 months? This example is one of many ways you can take back full control of your health by engaging in simple lifestyle modification strategies. 
  • LONGEVITY/ANTI-AGING STRATEGIES: houses one of the largest databases on the internet of natural approaches to aging. You can view the research on over 360 natural substances researched for their potential anti-aging properties here.
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