What are HEV rays? How do they affect our skin?

The sunlight spectrum consists of UV, visible and infrared light. Visible light accounts for 50% of the sunlight spectrum and, as the name suggests, it’s the only part of light that can be detected by the human eye (UV and Infrared Light are both invisible).

The blue/violet band of this visible spectrum has a particularly high energy level and is known as High Energy Visible Light. This is often abbreviated to HEV Light or HEVL.

Like UVA rays, HEV Light generates free radicals (also known as ROS – Reactive Oxygen Species). These free radicals cause skin cells to produce enzymes that break down the collagen and elastin that give skin its plump, youthful appearance. This process is often called oxidative stress and it’s what causes skin to photoage (age prematurely as a result of sun exposure).

Aging is, of course, an entirely natural process, but when skin ages prematurely it may start to sag and develop deep wrinkles before its time.

Alongside UVA and UVB, HEV Light can induce uneven skin pigmentation (often referred to as hyperpigmentation) and may contribute to conditions such as age spots (also known as sun spots) and melasma, the pigmentation condition that leads to the sun spots often seen in darker skins.

While UVB rays penetrate the outermost layers of skin (the epidermis), HEV Light, like UVA rays, penetrates into the lower layers of skin (the dermis):

  • UVB rays are responsible for sunburn. HEV Light has not been associated with sunburn.
  • UVB rays and, to a lesser extent, UVA rays have been linked to DNA damage which can cause skin cancer. HEV Light is not associated with skin cancer.
  • Both UVA rays and HEV Light can cause skin to age prematurely (photoage).
  • UVA rays are the primary cause of sun allergiesUVB rays can also cause sun allergies, but to a lesser extent.
  • UVA, UVB and HEV Light can induce hyperpigmentation and may contribute to conditions such as age spots (also known as sun spots) and melasma.

When choosing appropriate sun care products, the priority is still to give your skin the very best protection against UVA and UVB rays, but choosing products that also combat the oxidative stress caused also by HEV Light will further help to prevent photo-aging and may reduce hyperpigmentation.

Many modern sun creams and lotions offer effective protection against UVA and UVB rays, but the chemicals and pigments used to filter UVA and UVB do not filter HEV.

For this reason, we recommend that you look out for products that contain antioxidants and other specific ingredients like melanin like the Sunscreen and Primer SPF 30 from ZO that work against oxidative stress. Antioxidants like L-ascorbic acid like all vitamin C products from Vivier and ZO have been proven to work to protect skin cells in the deeper epidermal layers from sun-induced damage. That is why we always encourage our patients to use a medical or pharmaceutical formulation of vitamin C topically for their skin along with their sunscreen.

Blog written by Doreen – Medical Aesthetician

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