Right now, just like millions of others all over the world, you are staring at a screen. Whether this may be a computer, a phone, a television, or anything else, people are now spending such a large portion of time each day with their gazed turned towards a screen.
You may think that this is harmless, but all of this screen time is actually having quite an impact on your eyes, your skin and your general health…
HEV Light from Digital Screens
HEV light is a term that is being used so often in the skin care industry now, with more and more people becoming aware, and therefore concerned, about the effects that these lights can have on their skin.
What are they?
HEV light stands for high energy visible light, and this refers to the shorter wavelengths of light emitted by a device. Also known as blue light, many believe HEV light to have a similar effect on the skin as the sun’s UV rays.
These effects include:
- Damaging the skin’s natural barrier
- Slowing down skin cell growth
- Impaired skin cell healing
- Accelerated aging
Well, that doesn’t sound good, does it?
While there is no concrete evidence yet that proves that HEV light has this effect on the skin, there is more and more research pointing towards it. Enough, in fact, to trigger the release of HEV light-protecting sunglasses and other such products.
Are these really necessary?
Not really, because, when it comes to your skin, the other ingredients in your skin care routine should be doing enough to protect your skin.
However, while your skin itself may be able to handle HEV light, the way in which blue light impacts other parts of your health could then have a knock-on detrimental effect on your skin…
Digital Eye Strain
Digital eye strain refers to the discomfort and vision problems experienced after a person has been staring at a screen for an extended period of time.
Again, this is partly down to the blue light emitted by devices.
How does this lead to digital eye strain?
Well, blue light has a much shorter wavelength than other colors. This causes it to easily scatter, making it much harder for the eyes to focus on it. This reduces the overall contrast of everything on the screen, contributing to digital eye strain.
Your devices can cause digital eye strain in other ways too, such as with pixelated images, or when you hold your device too far away, or even at the wrong angle.
Wondering how digital eye strain is related to your skin?
When digital eye strain occurs, one of the symptoms that you may experience is dry and irritated eyes.
What do most people instinctively do when their eyes are sore?
Give them a rub, either to the eye itself or to the area around it.
Now, the skin that surrounds your eyes is extremely delicate, and can be up to ten times thinner than the skin on the rest of your face.
Rubbing or tugging at this area stresses this fragile skin out, leading to everything from loose skin to wrinkles in the long run.
Whether due to digital eye strain or simply tiredness, squinting at a screen is quite common practice.
However, as mentioned above, the skin around the eyes is extremely delicate, meaning that all of this extra squinting can really take its toll.
Because any repeated movements on your face results in your facial muscles forming dynamic wrinkles, which is the term that refers to wrinkles caused by motion.
It may not seem like a big deal now, but the more you squint your eyes, the faster and deeper you will experience wrinkles around them.
How can you avoid squinting while looking at a screen?
This is discussed in more detail later on.
In addition to having a direct effect on your skin, the blue light from your screens has an indirect impact too.
Do you know what your circadian rhythm is?
Simply put, it is the 24-hour cycle that your body goes through each day. It is largely influenced by a hormone called melatonin, which is the same hormone that causes you to feel sleepy each night.
What does this have to do with your skin and your computer?
Well, the blue light from your screen actually inhibits the release of melatonin in the body. In fact, just about any light, even one from a dim bedside table, can have this effect, but blue light does this so much more powerfully.
This then ends up interfering with your circadian rhythm, making it so much harder for you to fall asleep at night, resulting in sleep deprivation.
This is bad news for your skin…
Your skin really needs you to be getting a good amount of sleep each night.
Because even though you might be resting while you sleep, this is the time during which your skin works its hardest. During the daytime, your skin is more focussed on protecting itself from environmental damage. However, at night, it works on healing and regenerating itself, with an increased amount of skin cells, collagen, elastin and other skin-boosting components being produced during these hours.
Sleep interference will prevent your body from falling into the deepest stage of sleep, which is exactly where you need to be in order for your skin to work optimally.
A lack of deep sleep over an extended period of time will lead to the following:
- Dry and dehydrated skin
- A rough skin texture
- Inflammation, leading to eczema, acne, psoriasis and allergies
- A weaker immune system, and therefore weaker skin
- A breakdown in collagen and elastin, with a reduced rate of production too
- A damaged skin barrier
- Slower wound healing
- Accelerated skin aging
The tips mentioned below will help you to learn how to use your device in a safer way, but, for the best sleep, you should ideally try to avoid looking at a screen at least two hours before you go to bed.
Making sure that you are exposed to plenty of bright light during the day can also help to trigger your body into releasing more melatonin once the night draws in.
Your Phone and Your Skin
When it comes to the many devices you likely own, your phone is probably the one that comes into contact with your skin the most.
In addition to its screen causing all of the problems mentioned above, there are also other ways in which your phone can affect your skin that you should be aware of…
The biggest problems with phones is the bacteria that lives on it. Research shows that this bacteria has the potential to live for up to nine days, and is the most common cause of skin infections. In fact, a unique strain of acne has even been identified, with its sole cause being cellphones.
Fortunately, there is an easy way to prevent this from happening, and this doesn’t involve throwing out your phone…
Instead, keep some cleansing wipes near you at all times, and give your phone a wipe down once or twice a day.
You can also try to avoid pressing your phone up against your face as much as possible, opting for the speaker phone function, or even bluetooth headsets, whenever you can.
Using Your Devices Safely
After reading about the many ways in which your computer can cause havoc for your eyes and skin, you likely want to know how to get around all of this.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to give up your devices…
Instead, try to use them in a way that is safer for your skin and eyes, such as:
- Distance – with computers, extend one arm straight out and touch the screen with the palm of your hand. This is how far away you should be sitting from the screen. For other devices, keep these held just below eye level, at a far distance, but one where you can still read the screen comfortably
- Dimmed lights – dimming any surrounding lights can help to reduce the glare experienced
- Blue light filters – it is possible to download a blue light filter onto many apps, and these will reduce the amount of blue light emitted by your screen
- Increased text size – this will enable you to read the screen much easier, preventing digital eye strain
- Take regular breaks – try to give your eyes a break from the screen every 20 minutes, even if this is only for 30 seconds or so
Even if you follow these tips, you are still going to end up exposing your skin and your eyes to blue light, as well as the other problems that a screen can cause. In order to really combat this, it is important to protect your skin topically too.
Protecting Your Skin with Antioxidants
While it may not be to the same extent, blue light causes oxidative damage to skin cells, in the same way that the sun’s UV rays do. In fact, blue light can actually penetrate deeper into your skin’s layers than UVA rays.
Wondering what oxidative stress is?
It is caused when free radicals combine with oxygen, meaning that the body is not able to fight these free radicals on its own. This then leads to a range of different skin issues, with the biggest one being drastically accelerated aging.
This is where antioxidants come in…
Free radicals are basically molecules that are missing an electron. In order to heal themselves, they go around attacking nearby cells to steal their electrons. This then turns those nearby cells into free radicals themselves, creating an ongoing cycle of damage.
Antioxidants can stop all of this from happening.
Because they contain a number of extra electrons. When they come into contact with a free radical, they can then donate one of these extra electrons to the damaged molecule, thereby neutralizing it and preventing it from attacking other cells.
Sounds good, right?
You are probably now wondering which antioxidants you need to be using…
Here are five of the most effective:
- Lycopene – this antioxidant is responsible for giving red fruits and vegetables their color. Not only does it fight free radicals and prevent DNA damage, but it also stimulates collagen production and improves skin texture
- Green Tea – this popular skin care ingredient contains chemicals known as catechins. These are a group of antioxidants that repair and prevent skin damage, while neutralizing free radicals
- Resveratrol – found in high concentrations in red grapes, red wine and other fruits, this antioxidant is especially effective at tackling oxidative stress, and also brings with it some anti-aging benefits
- Vitamin C – has the ability to prevent and reverse skin aging
- Niacinamide – also known as vitamin B3, niacinamide is able to reduce wrinkles and dark spots while strengthening the skin barrier and protecting against free radical damage
The best way to make use of these antioxidants?
Through a serum. While moisturizers that contain these ingredients are definitely helpful too, the lightweight consistency of a serum means that its formula is able to penetrate far deeper into the skin, therefore bringing about a more impactful change. Serums also contain higher concentrations of active ingredients than moisturizers, meaning that your skin will gain more benefits from the ingredients within them.
Your computer, as well as the other devices that you use, can really take their toll on your skin. What makes this even more frightening is the fact that you may not actually realize that your devices are the cause of this until it is too late. This is why it is so important to take the steps necessary to use your device safely, while also providing your skin with plenty of antioxidants in order to help it protect itself from any damage.