Your Tech Devices May Be Causing Premature Signs of Aging

But don't throw your phone away yet.

Your Tech Devices May Be a Secret Culprit of Premature Signs of Aging and Here’s Why
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We can't imagine a world without our phones, laptops, iPads, etc. However, on the list of things to worry about when it comes to too much screen time (read: eye strain, tech neck, headaches), you can add premature signs of aging to the line-up.

As it turns out, there's a specific type of light emitted from the screens of our tech devices called blue light. Technically, blue light is everywhere and can even come from the sun. However, with the increase of screen time, skincare experts have noticed its direct impact on the skin.

Ahead, learn all about blue light, including what it is, how it affects the skin, and what you can do about it.

What is blue light?

"Blue light is part of the visible spectrum of light," says Dr. Brendan Camp, a board-certified dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology. "Think of the mnemonic ROYGBIV (the sequence of colors that make up the rainbow) — blue light represents a specific wavelength of light in the electromagnetic spectrum."

"It's everywhere," says Dr. Michelle Henry, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. "Most of the blue light we encounter is from the sun, however, LED lights tend to emit a lot in the blue spectrum, and the lights that we see from television, computers, and our phones, often have a significant amount of blue light."

And while blue light is emitted from the sun, Dr. Camp says it isn't the same as UVA and UVB rays since it doesn't penetrate the skin as deeply, and therefore, isn't associated with sunburns or skin cancer.

What are the impacts of blue light on the skin?

The tricky thing about blue light is that there are both potential benefits and negative impacts on the skin.

"The power of blue light is captured by dermatologists to treat acne and other skin conditions, including pre-cancerous growths when used in combination with certain medications," says Dr. Camp.

However, when exposed to blue light via artificial sources, such as your phone screen, it can contribute to skin concerns such as fine lines, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation.

"A small study suggests that exposure to blue light might stimulate the production of free radicals in the skin, which can accelerate the appearance of aging," furthers Dr. Marisa Garshick, a Manhattan-based board-certified dermatologist.

Free radicals are unstable oxygen molecules that can damage cellular structures like DNA, lipids, and proteins, explains Dr. Camp. When those structures are damaged, it can contribute to the formation of aging skin, such as wrinkles.

Additionally, another study found that exposing skin to blue light led to more pigmentation in those with darker skin.

VIDEO: How to Treat Under-Eye Wrinkles, According to Skincare Experts

What's the best way to protect your skin from blue light?

All the experts say the best defense against blue light damage is to use sunscreen with iron oxide.

"Oftentimes, you need more opaque blockers to protect the skin from blue light," says Dr. Henry. "A common blue light blocker is iron oxide, which is seen in many sunscreens — particularly tinted sunscreens as iron oxide is used to create the tint."

"Antioxidants, such as vitamin C, can also help quench the effects of free oxygen radicals that may be formed as a result of blue light exposure," adds Dr. Camp.

Additionally, dimming your computer or cell phone screen is another way to reduce the intensity of blue-light exposure. Lastly, blue light screen protectors are available for your phone and computer that can help offset the visible light effects and help with any eye strain or headaches caused by screen exposure.

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