When dermatologists speak about light damaging your skin, they are usually talking about the harmful rays of the sun coming at you from millions of miles away. But another form of light, much, much, closer to home is raising concerns about its long-term impact on our skin and complexion. The unique kind of light emitted by computer and smartphone screens combined with the ever-increasing amount of time we spend in front of our devices may be damaging more than just our eyesight and attention spans.
Our screens emit high-energy visible light (HEV), also called blue light. HEV is the higher-frequency, shorter wavelengths of light in the violet-blue band in the visible spectrum. HEV is also emitted by sunlight and fluorescent lighting but the amount of time we spend with our faces in close proximity to the tablet, smartphone or computer screens is why the focus of current research into the effects of HEV exposure focus on our devices.
A recent study by Unilever Skincare Research concluded that four days in front of a computer is just as damaging to skin as 20 minutes in the mid-afternoon sun. Another study detected increased pigment production in skin exposed to blue light, which raises the possibility that chronic exposure to computer and smartphone screens carries an increased risk of pigmentary disorders such as hyperpigmentation.
There are also studies that show that HEV gives off infrared radiation, which in turn harms the skin and may lead to premature aging of the skin by releasing cell-damaging free radicals.
One well-established problem with blue light exposure is that it can interfere with our sleep patterns and the quality of our sleep, especially if we are consumed by work or our social media feeds right before heading off to bed. A lack of good sleep is also a well-established culprit for several skin problems, such as dark circles under the eyes. When you don’t get enough sleep, the blood vessels and capillaries under your eyes may dilate, creating a dark tint. This may also cause them to appear puffy, as fluids can leak out into the skin.
The foregoing studies notwithstanding, there is no broad consensus as to whether “screen face” is a significant problem. While you shouldn’t be thinking about turning your laptop in for a typewriter, you may want to ease up on the screen time and ditch the phone an hour or so before you go to bed. There is a very good chance that doing so may help your skin and body’s overall well-being, even if you miss a few of your friends’ vacation photos on your Facebook feed.
Dr. Mariano Busso: Your Partner in Healthy Skin
An expert in all things skincare and aesthetics, Dr. Mariano Busso has coached physicians all over the country on his innovative techniques and quality of care. Call our Miami offices today at 305-857-0144 to schedule your consultation and learn more about how we can partner with you for better skin and an increased sense of confidence and well-being.