Five Ways Your Smartphone May Be Damaging Your Skin
The board-certified dermatologists at Genesis Dermatology in Jupiter sometimes employ blue light treatments as an effective therapy for certain conditions such as acne and precancerous skin cells. When used therapeutically in this way, research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has shown this type of treatment is safe.
But what about the near-constant exposure to the blue light that we receive from our smartphones, computers, and TV screens? There is now some evidence that this type of light—known as high-energy visible (HEV) light—can be even more damaging in some ways than exposure to the sun’s light.
Blue light also emanates from the sun, but we don’t spend up to 10 hours a day exposed to the sun, as we do with our screens. One dermatologist compared spending four eight-hour workdays in front of a computer to the same amount of energy as 20 unprotected minutes in the midday sun.
Problem 1: Wrinkles
That’s because longer HEV rays—unlike the shorter ultraviolet (UVA and UVB) rays from the sun—penetrate more deeply into the skin. The deepest layer, known as the dermis, is the layer which produces collagen and elastin, the substances that reduce or prevent sagging and wrinkling of the skin. HEV light can easily reach this layer.
Problem 2: Dryness
HEV light can also trigger increased production of the stress hormone cortisol, leading to inflammation, which in turn causes redness and irritation and dryness on skin.
Problem 3: Hyperpigmentation
This result of HEV exposure has the most research behind it to date. Hyperpigmentation is a darkening of the skin which produces brown spots and splotches. This is due to stimulation of the enzyme tyrosinase, which is responsible for producing melanin. Some dermatologists have reported seeing this effect particularly on the sides of the face where people hold their phones.
Problem 4: Aging
As with exposure to the UVA and UVB light from the sun, some research has shown that prolonged exposure to HEV light can stimulate the production of free radicals in the skin, which block antioxidants and makes skin appear prematurely aged.
Problem 5: Insomnia
Researchers have found that exposure to blue light wavelengths late at night not only suppresses the so-called “sleep” hormone melatonin, it can disrupt the skin’s natural circadian rhythms, leading to sleep deprivation. Because our cells use our time asleep to repair themselves, this interferes with the skin’s rejuvenation process.
How to protect your skin
There’s no need to go back to the days of landlines and snail mail to avoid the damage from HEV light. Here are some suggestions on how to minimize your exposure to these damaging rays.
Switch to night mode
Some devices have a setting that switches the screen from blue light to yellow light, sometimes called “nightshift” or “night mode.” It’s a good idea to keep your screen in this mode all the time, not just at night. Or use an app like Twilight Filter that accomplishes the same thing.
Turn to sunscreens
As we’ve noted in the past, it’s a good idea to wear sunscreens all the time, indoors and out. We recommend a broad-spectrum SPF 30 with a mineral base (zinc oxide or titanium dioxide) and even around the delicate eye area.
If your sunscreen doesn’t include antioxidants, you can apply them separately. Products containing vitamin E and/or vitamin C serum, as well as those with cocoa extract, will help defend against HEV damage. A good night-repair cream will give skin a chance to repair itself as you sleep.
And to correct any of these issues—hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, sagging skin, and so forth—be sure to see us. We have a host of quick, comfortable, and effective solutions to help restore your skin to its youthful appearance.