Research shows that the average person in the USA spends more than 10 hours a day staring at a screen of some sort, whether this may be a television, a phone, or anything else.
Shocked by this?
You should be, because this is even more time than the average person spends sleeping each day.
With the increasing number of devices that people now own, this figure is only going to keep on rising, but have you ever stopped to think about what this is doing to your health?
Not only does all of this excessive screen time lead to problems such as obesity and diabetes, but it also does so much damage to your skin.
HEV Light and Premature Aging
HEV light stands for high energy visible light, and refers to the blue light emitted by screens.
The light spectrum consists of a range of colors, from red to orange to green, and blue light not only has the shortest wavelength of them all, but also the most amount of energy.
What does this have to do with your skin?
Well, small amounts of blue light are actually good for you, because it helps to maintain your body’s natural clock and cycle, while improving factors such as memory and alertness. Since HEV light is naturally a part of daylight, the body tends to automatically receive the amount of HEV light it needs on a daily basis.
However, by subjecting your body and skin to an extra ten hours of HEV light each and every day, you end up being exposed to excessive amounts.
Wondering what this actually does to your skin?
It primarily causes premature aging.
Because when the skin is exposed to all of this blue light, free radicals end up forming.
Not sure what free radicals are?
They are unstable molecules that end up slowly damaging all of the other cells in your body. They also cause the collagen and elastin in the skin to break down. Since collagen and elastin are crucial for giving your skin its firmness, smoothness and structure, a lack of this quickly leads to wrinkles, lines, sagging skin and more.
Let’s begin by briefly discussing what hyperpigmentation actually is…
Your skin contains melanin, and this is what gives it its color. However, there are many factors out there that can trigger an increase in melanin production in the body, which means that you end up with patches of skin that are darker in color than the rest of your skin.
Wondering what this has to do with screen time?
Well, as with many areas relating to this topic, studies are minimal, but there is one study that discovered an increase in the production of skin pigmentation after exposure to blue light. What makes this even worse is that the hyperpigmentation that was noticed was actually much stronger and longer lasting than hyperpigmentation caused by other factors.
Crow’s Feet and Frown Lines
Have you ever noticed yourself squinting, or even frowning, when looking at a screen?
If so, then you are putting yourself at risk for premature crow’s feet and frown lines.
Many people end up squinting at their phones without even realizing, so this is definitely something worth taking note of. Try placing a mirror in the area where you usually look at a screen, so that you will be able to glance over and see the expression that your face is making.
Noticed yourself squinting at your screen, but don’t have any lines yet?
This all depends on your age…
The skin gets thinner and drier as it ages, which then makes it more susceptible to wrinkles and lines.
By repeatedly making a facial expression, whether this may be squinting, frowning, smiling or anything else, lines appear on your skin. Your skin may quickly bounce back to normal in your younger years, but, as you age, these lines will remain in place, deepening more and more over time.
Plus, with the HEV light also damaging your skin’s collagen and elastin, it will soon find it even more difficult to keep these lines away.
Don’t know how to stop squinting or frowning at your phone?
Your eyes could be the problem here…
Visit an optician and have your eyes checked, as poor vision will have you frequently squinting without realizing it.
Turkey neck may sound amusing at first, but this is something that you definitely want to try to avoid.
Wondering what it is?
It refers to loose skin on the neck, similar to what a turkey has.
How does screen time cause this?
Due to the way in which the neck is frequently bent downwards while you are looking at your phone.
In fact, an adult can actually place 10-60 pounds of extra weight on their neck by putting their neck in this position.
All of this extra weight, coupled with the unnatural position your neck is in, affects the elasticity of your skin. It also causes your neck muscles to shorten, meaning that all of the skin on your neck has nothing to wrap itself around, causing it to drop down and sag.
Fortunately, this is quite an easy skin issue to avoid…
It’s simple, just hold your phone up at eye level rather than looking down at it.
Another skin issue that screen time can cause is sagging jowls.
What are your jowls?
The term refers to sagging skin underneath the chin and jawline, and is something that everybody will naturally experience with age.
However, excessive screen time means that you are likely to experience this much sooner…
As mentioned above, screen time not only causes neck muscles to shorten, but also destroys the skin’s supplies of collagen and elastin. All of this then causes sagging jowls.
In order to protect the muscles in your neck as much as possible, make sure that you are stretching them on a regular basis, as this will prevent them from shortening. All you need to do is look up at the ceiling and hold this position for at least 20 seconds before releasing it, repeating these steps a few times.
This is something that many find hard to believe, but screen time can actually lead to allergic reactions.
Recent research suggests that screens, especially computer monitors, create an electrostatic field around them. This field ends up attracting any dust that is floating around, and, since your skin is in such close proximity, it does not take long for this dust to then settle on to the skin, working its way into your pores. This is even more the case in areas with poor ventilation.
This issue has become so common that it has even been given the name of screen dermatitis.
Wondering how this manifests?
In a few different ways, including:
- Blotchy skin
- Skin Allergies
For those who have pre-existing skin conditions, such as rosacea, you may notice that this becomes worse after you have been exposed to a screen for a long period of time.
What About Skin Cancer and Damage from UV Radiation?
There have been some concerns about screen time leading to skin cancer, but there has not been that much research carried out yet on the topic.
However, it is known that, unlike UV rays, blue light does not cause the same mutations in the DNA of your skin cells, which means that skin cancer is not likely to be a side effect of screen time. But with the long term effects of blue light still being unknown, there is no definitive answer to this yet.
When it comes to UV radiation…
This was something that was quite concerning in the past, as older screens used to emit low levels of UV light, causing skin damage over time.
However, newer screens have not been found to emit any UV light, so this is not something that you really need to worry about just yet.
Protecting Your Skin
After reading all of this, you now likely want to know exactly how you can protect your skin from all of the damage that screen time can cause.
The first, and most effective, way to do this is one that many will not like…
All you need to do is limit your screen time.
But how much screen time can you have without this damage becoming too severe?
Experts recommend two hours of screen time a day at most.
Of course, for those who have a job that requires them to be staring at a screen, this is something that is just not realistic.
So, what are your other options?
One effective way of protecting your skin from screen time damage is by purchasing a filter to go over your screen, as this will block excessive amounts of blue light from being emitted from your screen.
The settings on your computer and phone can also be adjusted, so that the levels of blue light are not as strong.
Can’t work out how to do this?
Try downloading an app instead, as these will help to reduce blue light in correlation with the amount of ambient light that is around you. This will not only help your skin, but also your eyes, as blue light has been seen to cause a variety of different eye problems.
As mentioned earlier, blue light causes the formation of free radicals in the skin, and one of the most effective ways to counter this is with the use of antioxidants.
In fact, there are now even specific products out there that have been designed for those who want to protect their skin from the damaging effects of blue light. These contain ingredients such as vitamin C, as well as physical barriers such as zinc oxide, both of which will protect the skin.
Another fantastic ingredient to consider is copper peptides.
Wondering how this helps?
They basically put the skin into an ongoing state of repair, doing everything from repairing textural damage to increasing elasticity to evening out hyperpigmentation.
In addition to using topical antioxidants, increasing the amount of antioxidants in your diet can also make a difference. The best, and easiest, way to do this is by consuming more fruits and vegetables that are highly pigmented, in a range of different colors, as this will give your body such a wide variety of different antioxidants.
Another effective method in protecting your skin is dry brushing.
You are probably thinking…
“Dry brushing is primarily for exfoliation, so how does this help?”
Well, the free radicals in your skin are removed via the lymphatic system, but this is something that can often slow down significantly in function. Dry brushing is a great way to boost this backup, meaning that your lymphatic system can then clear the body of free radicals at a much faster rate. Since your skin ends up more damaged the longer it is exposed to free radicals, getting them out of your body as quickly as possible is so important.
Wondering how long you need to dry brush for?
About two minutes a day should be all you need for this to help keep your lymphatic system working optimally.
Finally, make sure that you are using a quality face cream on your skin each and every day.
Because not only will this contain helpful antioxidants, but it also provides a barrier between your skin and the environment around you, while repairing damage that has already been caused.
When it comes to the effects that screen time has on the skin, the majority of studies that have been carried out on the topic have only really looked at short windows of time, meaning that the long-term results of this are still relatively unknown.
Fortunately, there are several steps that you can take to protect your skin from “screen damage”, keeping it as healthy as possible no matter how much screen time you end up having.