The Sun Isn’t the Only Skin Scourge
Blue light or visible light is one potential skin ager that experts are increasingly wary of. “Blue light lies on the visible light spectrum. It is high-energy wavelength light that comes from our computer screens and phones,” says Garshick. While research is still emerging and studies tend to be very small, some suggest that keeping your face stuck in a screen all day could also lead to premature aging.
For example, one study found that visible light increased free radical formation in the skin. And a review of research suggested that this free-radical-generating light also includes the flash on smartphones. (The title even asks if taking selfies can lead to premature aging.)
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Air Pollution Plays a Role in Accelerating Skin Aging
Air pollution doesn’t just affect how you breathe. As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warns, it can also create the same free radical damage to skin as light. “Exposure to air pollution, which includes particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, hydrocarbons, and ozone, creates oxidative damage in the skin that increases inflammation,” says Dr. Chwalek, whose statement is supported by data cited in a review.
Consider particulate matter (PM), for instance. PM is a mixture of small particles and liquid droplets, such as organic chemicals and soil or dust, according to the EPA. A study found that PM stimulates skin inflammation and impairs collagen synthesis.
Over time, this may cause sagging and fine lines and wrinkles. “Pollution creates the free radicals in skin that prematurely chew up collagen and elastin,” says Rebecca Kazin, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at ICON Dermatology and Aesthetics in North Bethesda, Maryland.
What’s more, if you’re dealing with dark spots appearing on your face, you may have cars to blame. One article also showed that exposure to air particles from traffic is linked to pigment spots on cheeks, Garshick points out.
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