Screen Time And Skin: A Toxic Relationship

  • Time 4 min
  • Date August 3, 2020
It’s not just the sun and pollution that are damaging your skin

One of the perks of adulting is that you get to choose our bedtime. No more “lights off!” ultimatums from your folks. You know what that leaves you with—your phone! Well, if there’s one thing standing between you and your beauty sleep, you know it’s your phone. You’d be lying if you said you weren’t scrolling through your feed at bedtime when you should actually be restricting screen time an hour before going to bed!

Not only is screen time bad for your mental health, but it’s also hugely detrimental to the health of your skin. Apart from keeping you up all night, leading to lack of beauty sleep, studies show that phones (more specifically, the light from it) can wreak havoc on the skin. Not just phones, devices like laptops, TVs and anything with a digital screen is the culprit. What is it about these devices that’s affecting the health of your skin? It’s the blue light!

Did you know that millennials check their phones an average of 150 times a day and a 2016 report found that US adults clock up more than 10 hours of screen time daily? Right now, you’re probably looking at your screen time on your phone in embarrassment, aren’t you? 

So what is blue light, you ask?

Blue light, part of the spectrum of visible light, is a high-energy, short-wavelength light. The main source of the blue light we’re exposed to is the sun. However, we also get a significant dose from our screens (TV, laptop, phone, etc.) and indoor lighting. It has been reported to contribute to eye strain and other eye diseases.

Is blue light damaging your skin?

Blue light exposure can cause more damage to your skin than UVA rays. This means it can easily cause uneven pigmentation and premature aging, though you wouldn’t get the burning redness you get from overexposure to the sun.

Blue light also compromises our beauty sleep by affecting the level of melatonin (the sleep hormone) and by disrupting our natural circadian rhythm—which means that if you’re exposed to significant amounts of blue light at night, you may find it difficult to fall asleep. It may also trick your skin cells into believing it’s daytime, impacting the natural night-time repair process leading to wrinkles and dark under-eye circles. Jeez!

But is all blue light bad?

Blue light during the day has some health benefits, such as boosting alertness and elevating mood along with cognitive function.

Screen Time And Skin

How to protect your skin against blue light

Give yourself a break

While you can’t really give up our phones, you can take a few measures. Take frequent breaks from devices and change the digital device background from white to a cool grey, or use the night mode setting permanently. If you’re constantly using devices such as computers and cell phones and notice that your eyes feel strained, that is a sign that you have had too much exposure.

Protection is key

You can also use protective glasses with coated lenses that filter out harmful blue light or install covers that block the blue light from screens.

Shield your skin

You can incorporate antioxidants in your skincare regimen to ensure that your skin has enough to fight with. And as we always advocate—use sunscreen! Though not meant to protect against blue light specifically, it forms a physical barrier that can block blue light.

Now you know where that lit-from-within glow comes from? Certainly not by scrolling through your ‘gram in the dead of the night!