It's hard to believe that the blue light from your smartphone could be damaging your skin, but it is. The American Academy of Dermatology has found that exposure to blue light wavelengths can cause damage in a way very similar to UV rays. In fact, the only difference between UVA and Blue Light is wavelength. If you are concerned about the effects of blue light then keep reading.
The bright blue light emitted from the screens of our phones, tablets and computers affects how we sleep and can contribute to premature aging by damaging collagen and elastin, which are important proteins for maintaining healthy looking skin.
It is estimated that people spend half of their lives staring at screens, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when many stayed indoors and in front of these devices for longer periods. According to Tiffany J. Libby, a board certified dermatologist from Rhode Island "we are substantially increasing our exposure.” Increased exposure to blue light has been shown to suppress production of the sleep hormone melatonin and increase alertness. It can also potentially put you in danger by impairing your reaction time. Having digital devices in your bedroom also keeps you from sleeping properly and making the most of that time. It can cause issues such as:
- Migraines or severe headaches.
- Irritability and mood swings, particularly among teens who are already at risk for depression and anxiety.
- Disturbed sleep patterns, including shorter overall sleep times and less deep sleep.
Wearing blue-light glasses may seem like a trendy way to avoid eye strain, but they don't do much for the problem. New York City opthalmologist Yuna Rapoport says that people should keep at least 12 inches between themselves and their screens when working on them in order to prevent these conditions from arising. If you have an issue with eyestrain or are feeling symptoms of dry eyes, take frequent breaks!
How much is too much?
As of now, it's unclear how many hours in front of a screen are too much for our skin. The more time we spend on our devices, the worse off our skin might be, says Dr. Marchbein. But according to Marchbein, the keyword is “might."
Recent studies have shown that if we look at a screen for more than three hours per day, it can cause skin damage. Dermatologist Elizabeth Ciraldo has been tracking this effect throughout her career and is seeing new patterns in patients which she believes are coming from holding their cell phone to their face.
Is blue light affecting your skin?
Recently, popular brands in skin care have been introducing new products that are designed to protect against this phenomenon. Studies show that a large amount of exposure can cause melasma and photo-aging as well as breakdown collagen levels which lead to wrinkles and sagging skin. What we do know for sure is there's enough proof showing how damaging high-intensity visible radiation (blue light) from electronics such has mobile devices, computers screens etc., contribute negatively towards both you're health and your appearance!
You may not notice the effect of overexposure to blue light right away but just like any other form of cumulative damage, it will eventually take its toll on your skin and have an impact on how quickly you recover from injury or illness. "It's like [sun exposure] — the damage is cumulative," Ava Shamban, a board-certified dermatologist in Beverly Hills explains. And as we all know too well at this point thanks to countless studies about blue light disrupting sleep cycles—it can do more than wreak havoc with our circadian rhythm.
By impacting skin cells' regenerative cycle, blue light exposure causes long term harm for those who don't take the necessary precautions.
Blue light is not something to be ignored. When it comes to our health, it's important to take necessary precautions. Just like UV rays are a form of radiation that we need to protect ourselves from, so too is blue light. Be proactive.
You can start by lowering the brightness on your screens. Just go ahead and switch it over to "Night Shift" mode so that it's easier on your eyes as well as your skin. If you're at risk for hyperpigmentation and have a habit of holding your phone up to your face, consider using hands-free accessories.