Is Your Phone Damaging Your Skin?

Dr. Janet Zand

June 19, 2020

You may have heard about the dangers of blue light from your phone and other devices.

Blue light can interfere with sleep. It can cause eye strain.  It can even lead to macular degeneration!

And now there’s evidence that it can damage your skin, too.  In fact, a study found that it may even be worse for your skin that UV rays!

A group of researchers compared the effects of blue light versus UVA rays on the skin. And they found that exposing skin to blue light caused more brown spots and redness than when the same person's skin was exposed to comparable levels of UVA rays.

Another group of researchers compared the effects of blue light to UVB rays. And they found that blue light caused darker, more pronounced hyperpigmentation compared to UVB rays.

To make matters worse, blue light can also speed up the visible signs of aging. How? By creating more free radicals in your skin.

Yes, researchers found that exposure to blue light can actually stimulate the production of free radicals. And as you may know, free radicals are notorious for breaking down collagen and elastin.  This leads to sagging and wrinkles.

So if you want to keep your skin looking younger and healthier, you really should minimize your exposure to artificial blue light.

Does that mean you have to swear off using your phone and computer?  Thankfully, the answer is no.

There are a few very simple ways to protect your skin and still enjoy Netflix, Instagram, and chatting with friends and family.

Here are my top 5 recommendations:

1. Go hands-free. Instead of holding your cell phone right up to your face, use earbuds with a built-in microphone. That way your phone won’t be directly on your skin’s surface.

2. Lower the brightness level on your screens to 50%. If you have Apple products, use the “night shift” mode that creates a warmer screen tone. (Just don't dim the screen so much that you're straining your eyes!) OR...

3. Use a blue-light-blocking screen protector for the devices you use most often. Blue light screen protectors can filter out the blue light before it ever reaches your skin. (And that means the screen protector protects your eyes from blue light, too!) To find a screen protector for your device, just do a quick search for “blue light filter” and the name of your device.

4. Fight free radicals with topical antioxidants. My top choice is vitamin C.  It’s a potent antioxidant that helps to neutralize free radicals and protect against oxidative stress. Plus, it helps your skin make more collagen!

5. Shield your skin with a natural sunblock.  Do not use chemical sunscreens like oxybenzone and avobenzone.  Those ingredients are bad for you.  Plus, they don’t really block UV rays, they only absorb them.  Instead, use natural sunblocking ingredients like zinc oxide or iron oxide.  They actually reflect blue light away from skin.

One more note... if you only apply sunblock when you’re going to go outside, rethink your routine. To protect your skin from artificial blue light, you need to apply sunblock every morning — even if you’re going to be indoors all day.

So try these tips out, and let me know how it goes! Not only will you protect your skin, but you may even find you’re sleeping better, too.

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