When you apply sunscreen for protection against the UV rays of the Sun, you may not realize that UV isn’t the only radiation of the Sun that can damage the skin and cause photo-ageing. Recent studies have determined that infrared (IR) radiation emitted by the Sun can increase production of free radicals in the dermis as well as decrease antioxidant capacity on the skin.
The Sun’s radiation that gets absorbed by the skin consists of 7% UV, 39% visible light and 54% IR radiation. IR is divided into IRA (near infrared), IRB (mid infrared) and IRC (far infrared). IRA is known to penetrate deeper into the skin, reaching the dermis. This is important because present sunscreen products do not filter or reflect IR radiation, nor do they prevent the formation of free radicals induced by IR radiation.
Both UV and IR generate a significant quantity of reactive oxygen species, chemicals that may cause deterioration of the cell structure. While UV produces reactive oxygen species on the cell membrane, directly damaging cells, IR penetrates the cell, and induces formation of reactive oxygen species within the mitochondria. IR effects on the mitochondria will indirectly encourage destruction of collagen and inhibition of mitochondrial energy production.
In addition, blue light radiation, also known as high-energy visible light (HEV) penetrates deeper into the skin than UVA and UVB. Blue light, due to its high energy level, can damage the skin more than UV and IR.
Blue light is emitted by the Sun as well as digital screens. Smartphones, computers, televisions and LED lamps emit a significant amount of blue light. Blue light has the ability to inhibit melatonin, the hormone that regulates your body’s natural clock, its sleep cycle. Additionally, blue light also generates reactive oxygen species in the skin that causes damage, contributes to photo-ageing as well as diminishing the body’s ability to recover your skin barrier, the lipid barrier that minimizes water loss and keeps your skin healthy and hydrated.
To protect against the effects of IR and blue light on the skin, there have been developments by Mibelle Biochemistry to block free radical formation caused by IR and blue light, protect mitochondrial DNA and inhibit photo-ageing and others. Their product, InfraGuard, contains sunflower sprout extract that is shown to support overall mitochondrial health and contains sufficient antioxidants.