The perils of High Energy Visible Light: An Interview with ZENii Founder, Dr Johanna Ward

The perils of High Energy Visible Light: An Interview with ZENii Founder, Dr Johanna Ward

1 Are you seeing an increase in skin-ageing and skin damage caused from HEV specifically. 

HEV light is part of modern life and is also becoming part of modern pathology. We are surrounded by it and for the most part are totally unaware of it. But HEV can cause significant damage to the eyes and skin so it’s important that we all understand its impact. HEV light is emitted by the sun so it’s not a new exposure for us but nowadays we are all getting extra doses of HEV through our modern tech – it’s emitted from our televisions, light bulbs, computer screens and phones. HEV light can penetrate deeply into the skin and can cause similar damage to UVA rays. It causes anything from free radical production, inflammation and DNA damage. This shows up as accelerated ageing, wrinkling, poor texture, impaired barrier function and hyperpigmentation.


2- Which areas of the face are these most apparent and how can you tell that this is from HEV?

Most of the damage from HEV light (which is high energy light) is to the face, neck, décolleté and hands because these are the most sun exposed parts of our body. They are also the areas closest to our screens and most exposed to our tech. The eyes are particularly vulnerable to HEV damage because almost all blue light passes through the cornea and the lens of the eye to reach the retina. This can cause retinal damage, macular degeneration and visual loss.


It’s almost impossible to separate HEV from UV light in terms of skin damage as they have similar effects. Exposure to the sunshine is our largest source of UV and HEV light but the threat from blue light doesn’t stop when the sun goes down. It’s in our homes, on our laps and in our hands for prolonged periods of time each and every day through our tech. 


3- In your professional opinion, how will HEV damage skin from the millennials and those who are exposed to HEV from the age of 15 onwards when they reach their 40’s.

The truth is that some exposure to blue (HEV) light, preferably from daylight, is good for us and helps regulate our sleep cycle, our mood and our levels of alertness. Low levels can also help to reduce skin conditions like acne by killing off the problematic bacteria Propionibacterium Acnes. But when the exposure is regular and excessive that is when we encounter problems. If you are exposed to anything damaging from a young age then the damage will have a cumulative effect. We see this with UV light and sun exposure and we will also see it with HEV no doubt. The Millenials are the first generation to have grown up with phones, screens and tablets from a young age so it will no doubt have an impact on their future skin health. We may see cases of accelerated ageing and skin damage in this group and will probably see more as the years pass. 


4- Are you treating/ advising clients now for the effects of HEV exposure. 

Yes absolutely. We are now incorporating HEV avoidance and prevention strategies into our daily skincare advice because the exposure is so ubiquitous. Daily application of a broad-spectrum sunscreen is the first thing  advised alongside effective antioxidant serums. Together they act as a shield to protect against UV and HEV light and help defend and minimise the chain reaction of damage before it visibly impacts the skin. Try ZENii Antioxidant power serum, ZENii Antioxidant SPF 50 and ZENii ProLuminous supplement for the highest level of HEV protection. I also recommend large, wraparound sunglasses with good UV lenses that to protect the eyes in the daytime and yellow-tinted glasses to block the HEV light when using screens and tech.


  1. – Do you feel this is going to be a main concern in the same way we now are so regimented with SPF’s and sun cream. 

I think all future skincare will focus on three main environmental exposures – UV light, HEV light and pollution. These are the main environmental threats that we all face day in and day out and with effective and targeted skincare we can take measures to protect against them. Try ZENii Antioxidant power serum and Stem Cell SPF 30 for ultimate daytime protection from all of these 3. 


5- Do you feel this is the next generation in skin crises from the radiation emitted from todays technology. 

Most of our HEV exposure comes from the sun so it’s not a new exposure for humans but we are being exposed to more HEV light than ever before. Fortunately there are some effective ways of protecting ourselves against these damaging rays. We can all opt to use skincare regimes with products that help prevent the primary exposure plus we can buy screen covers to minimise their output. We need to educate a whole generation of people about the risks of HEV light and teach people how to defend themselves against it. Currently there is a lot of awareness about the effects of UV light on the skin and eyes but little awareness of the effects of HEV light. This needs to change.  

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