Living Well

Is blue light bad for your skin?

With the emergence of the COVID-19 public health crisis in 2020, millions of working professionals transitioned to a work from home arrangement, and pushed by this huge societal change, health experts began to take a closer look at what the effects of all that screen time has on our overall wellness. With way more hours in front of laptops, televisions, tablets and more, most working professionals were getting far more blue light exposure from their devices. But what is blue light and does it have negative effects on our overall well-being? Let's dive in and find out.

What is blue light?

Instead of the visible spectrum of light (think ROYGBIV!) that is ever-present when we go outside during the daytime, we're getting a dose of a single wavelength of visible light called blue light when our faces are plastered in front of computer screens. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, blue light is a common wavelength of light emitted by fluorescent lights, LED bulbs and smartphone and computer screens. We mostly absorb blue light into our skin through the sun, but the second highest source of this wavelength in our daily lives comes from artificial sources.

When it comes to skin damage, ultraviolet light is what you should really concern yourself with, specifically UVA and UVB rays that cause sunburn, skin cancers and other forms of damage. According to Self Magazine, UVA and UVB occupy wavelengths of light that we can't see, with UVB existing between 280 and 315 nanometers (nm) while UVA exists between 315 and 400 nm. Blue light is on this same spectrum as a form of visible light, and as humans, we can see between 380 nm and 700 nm on the visible spectrum, and blue light clocks in at about 400-490 nm. While blue light is certainly visible, we often see it as white in color, especially from artificial light sources.

There are two things we know for sure about blue light: it can cause eye strain and could alter a person's circadian rhythms. The AAO reports that blue light is one of the leading causes of eye strain, which is why your eyes may hurt if you are in front of a screen for an extended period of time. Ever wonder why doctors say that you should avoid electronic devices for at least an hour before bedtime? You guessed it: blue light! Blue light affects the body's circadian rhythm, our body's internal clock that helps us wake up and wind down each day. In the daytime, blue light is what wakes us up and stimulates us, but if blue light exposure is excessive, especially during the late afternoon and nighttime hours, this could contribute to a poor sleep cycle and trouble falling asleep.

As millions of working professionals have transitioned to working from home, blue light exposure has become much more prevalent, and we're spending more time in front of these screens than ever before.

Is blue light bad for your skin?

Taking everything we just learned about visible light and where blue light comes from, the question is, "What does all this exposure mean for our skin." Unfortunately, it's still an open question. According to the New York Times, there have been numerous studies on how blue light differs from UV rays. The news source reports that while UV light causes damage to skin by damaging skin cells directly, extended exposure to blue light actually has the ability to damage collagen in the skin. When blue light is exposed to skin, a chemical in the skin layer called flavin absorbs blue light. This produces unstable oxygen molecules, also known as free radicals, which have the potential to cause skin damage. But with a dearth of long-term studies on this topic, we still don't know the long-term effects of blue light on the skin.

And let's not forget that blue light is a common wavelength used to treat acne through light therapy devices, and many people have found success in clearing up skin imperfections through the use of this drug-free technology. So as evidence continues to pile up on either side of the divide, most dermatologists say that blue light is a complicated issue and one that is still not fully understood.

Given blue light's effects on skin, should I wear sunscreen indoors?

Given how much time we're all spending in front of screens these days, you may be asking yourself, "Should I use sunscreen everyday?" as well as, "What SPF do I use?" Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference, but there are a few things you should know if you'll be creating a new "indoor" sun care regimen.

According to the New York Times, one of the best ways to protect yourself from blue light is through the use of mineral sunscreen, specifically ones that contain iron oxide. Mineral sunscreens that contain zinc oxide or titanium oxide are also safe choices that can help protect your skin against prolonged blue light exposure. Products that contain vitamin C are also helpful, as these antioxidants can enter the cells directly and are small enough to penetrate the skin layer to fight the presence of free radicals. If you can find a vitamin C/vitamin E combination, that's an even better choice to double up the fight against free radicals.

When it comes to SPF, use your FSA as a guide! The only sun care products available for FSA spending include those with broad spectrum protection against UVA/UVB rays, and an SPF level of 15 or above. Combining these traits with a mineral sunscreen that is adept at blocking out blue light, and you'll have a solution that works for our continuing pandemic and when it's time to resume our pre-pandemic lives outdoors.

The bottom line is that protecting yourself from blue light comes down to personal preference and how much you are worried about the signs of aging appearing on your skin. Protection against ultraviolet rays when outdoors should always take precedence, but if you find yourself spending long hours in front of screens with no end in sight, now may be the perfect time to take a closer look at your sun care regimen to find a product that gives you peace of mind while we all ride out quarantine together.


Thanks for visiting the FSA Learning Center! To stay on top of all FSA news that can affect your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
popular

Staff Picks: 10 FSA-eligible must-haves for summer

June is finally here and families all over the U.S. will look to the great outdoors to enjoy their the warm weather. In light of the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis, health implications and safety take on a new profound importance in everyday life, and your flexible spending account (FSA) can help you plan ahead so you don't miss out on your favorite summer activities.

Before it's time to (safely) enjoy the great outdoors, we surveyed the Health-E Commerce team for a list of their top 10 favorite summer health and wellness essentials of 2020:

1. Bug Bite Thing®

Summer means pesky mosquitoes, and if you're looking for a drug-free way to treat insect bites, look no further than the Bug Bite Thing! This device uses suction to painlessly and effectively extract insect saliva/venom from under the skin to eliminate itching, stinging and swelling.

2. Sun Bum® Lip Balm Watermelon - SPF 30

Don't neglect your lip protection during the summer months! Sun Bum® lip balm offers broad spectrum protection to safeguard against UV rays, as well as moisturizers to keep them feeling refreshed and cool with a fun watermelon flavor!

3. MDSolarSciences™ Daily Wear Moisturizing Sunscreen - SPF 30

Year-round sun care is a smart choice for your skin health, so if you're looking for a daily wear sunscreen that can support your skin while keeping you protected, look no further than this great daily wear sunscreen from MDSolarSciences™.

4. SPOTMYUV™ Detection Stickers

This wearable UV detection sticker is one of the favorites of the FSAstore.com staff! This color changing sticker is waterproof, sweat resistant and hypoallergenic, and changes color when it's time for you to reapply sunscreen.

5. Neutrogena® Wet Skin Kids Stick Sunscreen Broad Spectrum Protection - SPF 70

Don't forget kid's sun protection as well! Our pick is the Neutrogena® Wet Skin Kids Stick, which offers broad spectrum and SPF 70 protection, and extra water resistance to keep them safe. If your little ones are especially little, we also have baby sunscreen!

6. Caring Mill™ Bradie Sun Readers

Need a new pair of readers for the beach or wherever you're headed? See clearly and support a great cause! With the sale of each Caring Mill product, we make a donation to Children's Health Fund.

7. Band-Aid® Hydro Seal Bandages Blister Cushion

If blisters are common when you hit the great outdoors, plan ahead with Band-Aid® Hydro Seal Blister Cushions. They're moisture-resistant to stay adhered during long walks and hikes, and can help you ward off discomfort all summer long.

8. Vibrathotics®

While we're on the subject of foot pain, one of our favorite hi-tech health products is Vibrathotics®, a vibrating shoe insert that reduces pain and numbness in the feet by improving blood circulation and stimulating nerves. They're perfect for a post-gym cooldown, pain relief after a long walk and are a great drug-free choice for foot pain.

9. KT Tape® Pro, Pre-Cut

Muscle soreness and injuries shouldn't get in the way of your fitness plan, and that's why athletes the world over trust KT Tape® to stay in the game. These kinesiology tapes are super flexible to be worn during workouts to enhance blood flow to sore and aching muscles without obstructing your range of motion.

10. MediAid® First Aid Kit

Are you prepared for medical emergencies during your summer travels? Stay on top of bumps, bruises, cuts and more with a portable MediAid® first aid kit, which can easily fit in a bag, glove compartment or suitcase.

And don't forget, with the passage of the CARES Act in late March, your FSA now covers over-the-counter (OTC) medicines without a prescription, and feminine care products like tampons, pads, and more are now fully FSA-eligible! It's a great time to be an FSA user.


Thanks for visiting the FSA Learning Center! For the latest info about your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Sun Care Center

Your summer of sun, sand and skin cancer prevention starts now

Memorial Day is the unofficial kick off to summer, and there's a good chance you'll be spending time in the sun and we want to give you a gentle reminder to keep yourself - and your family - protected.

We don't have to remind you of how serious cancer is. But skin cancer is highly treatable if detected early. This is why dermatologists across the U.S. use this month's initiative to encourage people to perform self-checks all summer long.

The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that people perform a thorough, step-by-step self-examination every month, so you can find any suspicious marks or growths. Of course, if you spot anything suspicious, see a doctor.

Early detection of a new mole or skin growth can mean the difference between a quick procedure and something potentially more serious. Remember, self-examination is only the first step. So, check early and often, and contact a doctor if something doesn't seem right.

Speaking of which, visiting the dermatologist to check for skin cancer qualifies as an FSA- and HSA-eligible service, since it would be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent a medical condition.

Take advantage of free skin cancer screenings

If you can't get a dermatologist appointment in your town (or wherever you're spending the summer) within a reasonable amount of time, some doctors volunteer their time to offer free screenings throughout the year.

Programs like SPOTme, run by the American Academy of Dermatology, are available in many different locations, and can give you a thorough body check in a private setting, usually in a location nearby.

Prevention starts with you

Regular checks for skin cancer are vital, but don't overlook proper year-round sun care. If you want to use your HSA to help offset the costs of necessary sun protection products, you can pick up a wide range of HSA-eligible sunscreens, lip balms and more from our store!


Avène FSAstore.com Facebook Giveaway

We’re hosting an exclusive Facebook giveaway for Avène! You could enter to win an Avène bundle, to stay sun safe year-round with your FSA!

We’re hosting an exclusive Facebook giveaway for Avène! You could enter to win anAvène bundle, which consists of the following products:

-Mineral High Protectin Tinted Compact SPF 50+ - Beige

-Mineral Light Hydrating Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50+ (face & body)

-Ultra-Light Hydrating Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50+ (face)

-Ultra-Light Hydrating Sunscreen Lotion Spray SPF 50+ - Travel Size(body)

Did you know your Flexible Spending Account covers products including sunscreen with an SPF 15+? It does, and one sunscreen brand, Avène, is sold at FSAstore.com.

Learn more about Avène

Stay sun safe year round with your Flexible Spending Account. Avèneis not only ultra light, but this 100% mineral sunscreen provides broad spectrum sun protection from UVA and UVB filders. Avène is recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation. It also contains powerful antioxidant and soothing relief through AvèneThermal Spring Water. ThisAvène sunscreen provides water resistance for up to 80 minutes and hydration. It's suitable for sensitive skin (allergenic, as well) and for the entire family (babies 6 months and up).Avène is paraben-free, fragrance-free, oil-free and chemical filter-free.

It's recommended that sunscreen is applied both generously and at least 15 minutes prior to sun exposure. Sunscreen should also be re-applied every two hours, or after 80 minutes of swimming or perspiring.

How can you enter to win the Avène sunscreen bundle?

Likeus on Facebook and following the instructions for the Avène sunscreen bundlegiveaway. The photo submission with the most “likes” wins (all photos will be uploaded to an album created by us, where the winning photo can be voted on), so it’s greatto get your family and friends voting for yourphoto. We can’t wait to seewhat you’ll share with us on Facebook.Thecontest is open to U.S. residents only.

This contest ends December 19 at 5 pm ET! We look forward to your submissions! Do you think someone else would be able to benefit from the contest? Share it with a friend! Good luck to all!

Living Well

Keep your kids sun-safe

As temperatures rise this summer, it's important to monitor your child's outdoor activity in terms of keeping them sun safe.

As temperatures rise this summer, it's important to monitor your child's outdoor activity in terms of sun safety. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a few tips to consider when you're thinking of sun safety and heat-related illnesses.

According to an article by the CDC, "Heat-related illness happens when the body's temperature control system is overloaded. Infants and children up to 4 years of age are at greatest risk. Even young and healthy people can get sick from the heat if they participate in strenuous physical activities during hot weather. For heat-related illness, the best defense is prevention."

In the article, the CDC also cautions to never leave children, infants, or pets in a parked car (even with the windows open), to minimize outdoor activity at peak sun times (go out in the early morning and evening instead, if you have that flexibility), keep cool with cool showers and baths, and dress children and infants in appropriate light-colored and sun protective clothing. These are just a few preventive measures to minimize the risk of heat-related illnesses and to keep everyone in your family sun safe.

The CDC further stresses, "Just a few serious sunburns can increase you and your child's risk of skin cancer later in life. Their skin needs protection from the sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays whenever they're outdoors."

If you know you'll be out and in the sun for a few hours or at least part of the day, apply and re-apply sunscreen as much as possible. It's recommended that you wear sunscreen on your face every day - even on days where the sun isn't out. Other ways to stay sun safe may include seeking shade, bringing umbrellas and wearing protective clothing and wearing hats, if in direct sunlight for longer periods of time. If you'll be in or near water at any time, be sure to reapply sunscreen after you or your kids leave the water.

Did you know broad spectrum, SPF15+ sunscreen is FSA eligible? You can also buy children's sun protection and baby sunscreen with your Flexible Spending Account.

Shop for all your summer healthy product needs at FSAstore.com!

Eligibility

How to choose the best sun protective sunglasses

If you're in the market for new prescription sunglasses, be sure to check out FSAstore.com. Learn how to choose the best sun protective sunglasses.

As much as we look at sunglasses as the perfect fashion accessory or to shield your eyes from glare on a sunny day, your shades play a vital role in protecting your eyes from sun damage. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun can not only damage the skin of the eyelid, but it can also cause long-term damage to the cornea, lens and other parts of the eye, as well as contributing to the formation of cataracts and macular degeneration over time.

Luckily, if you're in the market for a pair of prescription sunglasses, they are eligible for reimbursement with your flexible spending account (FSA)! But as much as you pay attention to style, don't forget about sun protective sunglasses!

Here are a few buying tips to keep in mind from FSAstore.com when you shop (and get $25 off an order of $100+) for sun protective sunglasses:

UV Protection Level

When shopping for sunglasses, be sure to look for a pair that features 99 to 100 percent protection against UVA and UVB rays (also called broad spectrum protection), the two wavelengths of ultraviolet radiation that contribute to sunburns, skin cancer and long-term eye damage. According to a 2014 survey conducted by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, less than half of Americans check whether their new sunglasses will protect against UV light, so this is a smart habit to get into for your long-term eye health.

Lens Color

It's important to note that no single color shade will make a tangible difference in improving UV protection, even in the case of darker shades as well. These lenses do not block out more sun, but rather, they create more color contrast which may be helpful for some people see more clearly while playing sports or driving long distances. Ultimately, this should be left up to your personal preferences!

Size

Bigger is better when it comes to a pair of sunglasses' ability to block out harmful UV rays, so if you'll be spending many hours in direct sunlight, it may be better to opt for a pair of oversized or wrap-around sunglasses that will provide better protection from the sun. Ideally, look for a pair that will line up with your brow to prevent stray light from entering the eyes, and one that can prevent salt, sand and other particulates from damaging the eyes as well.

Polarized ≠ UV Protection

While polarized lenses have become extremely popular for their ability to reduce glare on water and other reflective surfaces, they do not contribute to the blockage of UV rays from entering the eye. Always be mindful of this when shopping for sunglasses, as they may be able to help you see more clearly, but the product's UV protection rating is the pivotal factor to keep in mind.

If you're in the market for new prescription sunglasses, be sure to check out FSAstore.com! We have partnered with Glasses.com to give our customers more eyeglass and sunglass options from popular manufacturers like Ray-Ban, Oakley, Coach, Burberry and more! Come explore the web's largest selection of FSA eligible products and maximize the potential of your healthcare benefits!

Living Well

Be sun safe with dermatological sun care

At FSAstore.com, we even recently launched our new Dermatological Sun Care category with top brands such as La Roche-Posay, Vichy and MDSolarSciences. 

As warmer weather approaches and you get ready for spring and summer adventures, don't forget to include to wear sunscreen before you go out! Often, people think that sunscreen is unnecessary on a cloudy day, or that applying sunscreen doesn't help unless you're exposed to the sun for an extended period of time, but that's simply not the case.

Fortunately these are myths, and there's more good news: your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) covers Broad Spectrum, SPF15+ sunscreens, so you can protect your skin. At FSAstore.com, we even recently launched our new Dermatological Sun Care category with top brands such as La Roche-Posay, Vichy and MDSolarSciences.

These are dermatologist-recommended sun care products that are also water resistant and suitable for every day wear. MDSolarSciences sunscreens are mineral broad spectrum sunscreens. Want to take a further look at Dermatological Sun Care? Browse the category and get ready for warmer temperatures with your FSA!

Let's explore three questions about sun care and matching dermatological sun care options:

1) "I don't need to apply sunscreen if an area of my body isn't directly exposed to sunlight, right?" This is actually wrong. According to WebMD, "The average T-shirt offers an SPF of about 7. Darker fabrics and tighter weaves provide more protection, but it is much safer to apply sunscreen to your entire body before you get dressed. Or better yet, wear clothing made of UV protective fabrics."

Check out: La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid for Body, SPF 45

2) "I need the highest SPF to protect my skin, I think?" According to WebMD, this is myth, as a sun protection factor of 100 should be twice as protective as SPF 50. But it's only a few percentage points more effective. An SPF of 15 screens 93% of the sun's rays and an SPF of 30 screens 97%."

In addition, WebMD mentioned that you should re-apply sunscreen a few times, if you're exposed to direct sunlight a few hours at a time, and apply it your face no matter what the weather is like that day. If you're going swimming or get sweaty, you should re-apply sunscreen, as well.

Check out: La Roche-Posay Anthelios SPF 30 Cooling Water Sunscreen Lotion

Check out: Vichy Capital Soleil SPF 45 Silkscreen Face, Body Lotion

3) I found a bottle from last year. I can still use that, right?

Wrong! Though sunscreens may not expire every year, you should be applying it enough so that you don't need to use last year's sunscreen supply.

Check out: MDSolarSciences Protection Pros Sunscreen Set

Living Well

What is the safest sunscreen for kids?

Sun protection is a major consideration for parents. Learn more about the safest sunscreen for kids on this blog post and shop with an FSA.

Spring may seem early to begin talking about proper sun care, but if you have small children, protecting their skin from the sun's rays will take on a new importance as they spend more time outdoors as the season progresses. Sun protection is a major consideration for parents, as recent studies have shown that sustaining just five major sunburns during youth can raise a child's risk of developing life-threatening skin cancers like melanoma by 80 percent.

Sunburns are caused by the skin's absorption of harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which are present whether it's sunny or cloudy, reaching their peak levels between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. and are directly tied to the formation of skin cancer. Luckily, if you have a flexible spending account (FSA), your benefit can cover the reimbursement of sunscreen for the whole family. Here are some vital guidelines to consider when choosing a sunscreen for your kids.

Keep babies out of the sun entirely: First things first, if you are a parent of a child younger than 6 months, you should be searching for ways to cover him/her up rather than purchasing a sunscreen! Physicians advise new parents to keep their infants out of sunlight completely if they are under 6 months of age, as sunburn can cause significant pain, fever and even dehydration in newborns, as well as dramatically raising their susceptibility to skin issues later in life. Keep the baby's arms and legs covered in light-colored, lightweight clothing and stick to the shade during his/her first 6 months.

Shop for Baby Sunscreen

Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15 or higher: A sunscreen's sun protection factor (SPF) is a measure of the item's ability to prevent UV rays from harming the skin, which is a huge consideration for small children who will experience long periods of sun exposure. For instance, if a person's skin can remain unprotected in the sun for 30 minutes without burning, an SPF 15 product will theoretically protect the wearer for 15 times longer, or for 7.5 hours. SPF 15 is the bare minimum for a child's sun care regimen, so feel free to go for a stronger variant for very young children or kids with skin that is more susceptible to sunburn.

Broad spectrum protection: The classification of "broad spectrum" refers to sunscreens that block all forms of ultraviolet rays. UV radiation is broken up into two primary wavelengths: UVA (long-wave) and UVB (short-wave) radiation. UVA and UVB rays contribute to premature skin aging, eye damage and most skin cancers, and UVA rays make up about 95 percent of all UV radiation reaching the Earth's surface, while the other 5 percent is UVB rays. While UVB rays are the chief cause of sunburn and damage the outermost layers of the skin, UVA rays can penetrate down to the dermis level and can spark the development of some skin cancers. Simply put, if it's not "broad spectrum," it won't do the job!

Shop for Broad Spectrum Sunscreen

Water resistance: Sunscreen that can stand up to water during swimming or sweat during heavy activity is a major concern for the product's efficacy, especially with active children. The Federal Drug Administration has ruled that sunscreens that are considered "water-resistant" will continue protect wearers for at least 40 minutes after application. Because no sunscreen is 100 percent waterproof, it's vital that wearers re-apply throughout the day to maintain a full spectrum of protection.

Shop for Water-Resistant Sunscreen

With a long summer of fun in the sun ahead, make sure to support the wellness of your entire family by shopping at FSAstore.com! We have the web's largest selection of FSA-eligible products to help you maximize the potential of your benefits!

Living Well

5 outdoor sun safety tips for winter

Wondering about sun safety during the year? Read our post about 5 outdoor sun safety tips for winter on the FSAstore.com blog. 

For the vast majority of Americans, winter is a time of year when we're trying to keep warm rather than worrying about sun care, but good sun care is important all year! Ultraviolet rays that contribute to sunburns and the formation of skin cancers are ever-present throughout winter, and they are just as dangerous now as during the spring and summer. Going to hit the slopes or do some work outdoors?


WearSun Protection lip balm

Lips can become chapped very easily during the winter months with dry air, wind and snow constantly pelting your face. This skin is very sensitive and can dry out and burn very easily after being exposed to sunlight, so make sure to wear a lip balm with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher with moisturizing benefits to support the underlying skin.

Shop for SPF Lip Balm at FSAstore.com

Use broad spectrum sunscreen - and re-apply!

During extended time outdoors, make sure to use broad spectrum sunscreen that can safeguard skin against UVA and UVB radiation, which is the source of sunburns and aids in the development of skin cancer. Use a sunscreen SPF 30 or higher, and apply 30 minutes before heading outdoors. Be aware that snow and strong winds can reduce the efficacy of sunscreen, so re-apply every 2 hours.

Shop for Broad Spectrum Sunscreen at FSAstore.com

Shop our Dermatological Sunscreens

Shop for Mineral Sunscreen from MDSolarSciences

Use moisturizing sun protection

The winter weather can wreak havoc on your skin, which can lead to dry, peeling and painful skin that can linger throughout the season. When shopping for sunscreens, make sure you pick one with moisturizing ingredients, such as lanolin or glycerin. This is an easy way to support your skin health and stay protected from UV rays.

Shop for Aveeno at FSAstore.com

Cover exposed skin

Because of cold temperatures, there's a good chance that most of your skin will be covered throughout winter. However, there are some trouble spots to keep in mind. First, make an effort to cover your head to protect your scalp from sun damage, as well as wearing sunglasses or goggles that can block out 99 percent or greater of UV rays. The skin around the eyes is a common site for skin cancers and sun-inducted aging, so make sure this area is protected all winter long.

Be mindful of reflected UV rays

Many skiers and snowboarders have learned the hard way about the reflective nature of snow and ice, as about 80 percent of UV rays will reflect back up to the nose and face and can cause sunburns. As such, it's vital to apply sunscreen to parts of the body we would normally overlook, such as underneath the nose and chin where those reflective rays will hit. Of course, always remember to re-apply every few hours to maintain your skin's sun protection.

Improve your sun care regimen and make the most of your healthcare benefits at FSAstore.com! We have the web's largest selection of FSA-eligible products to keep you and your family healthy year-round.