Could taking selfies be bad for you?
We are born in the generation of the selfie. We love selfie’s and everything selfie related. But can there be side effects from the amount of selfie’s we take? Research has shown high energy visible light that is emitted from smart phones can possibly damage your skin.
Selfies are just one of the things we do on our digital devices these days. We aren’t able to hide away from the fact that we are exposed to a lot of high energy visible light throughout the day; from laptops, smart phones, and all the digital devices we tend to use. High energy visible light is known as the blue light that comes from our screens, such as phones, laptops, iPads etc. High energy visible light is also known as the high frequency light in the blue/violet spectrum, with wavelengths of 400nm to 500nm.
Blue high energy visible (HEV) light exposure has been linked to having some damage to our skin. As more and more research is done on HEV lights, it is said that HEV lights can penetrate the skin deeper than UV rays, making it as harmful as UV light (if not worse). We know that sun exposure can cause skin damage, but now screen exposure is a real thing! The public have been educated on sun exposure, so it is important to be educated on HEV light exposure too.
There are different layers of the skin, and different wavelengths can absorb into different layers of the skin. UVC rays can only penetrate the epidermis portion of the skin; which is the most superficial layer it can penetrate, specifically the Stratum Corneum of the epidermis. UVB rays can go slightly further; into the basal cell layer, between the epidermis and dermis. UVA rays can go as far as the blood vessels in the dermis, which is the deepest layer of the skin. It is now shown the high energy visible (HEV) light penetrates the deepest, further into the blood vessels.
Possible side effects to the exposure of HEV light could cause things such as premature ageing; increasing wrinkles, enlarging pore sizes, increasing pigmentation and darker circles. Premature ageing can also have two other factors; pollution & sun damage, however now it has shown that HEV light is an additional factor to add to the list.
HEV damage can also be the reason why breakouts and acne can take a longer time to resolve, as the skin can lose the ability to heal itself from heat and inflammation that is caused by HEV light. HEV light can produce a similar amount of reactive oxygen species (ROS) that UVA and UVB does. This can prevent the skin from repairing itself, therefore can lead to the skin ageing. It can cause inflammation due to the amount of free radicals that are generated, which can prevent inflammation from healing.
A study was taken place in the University of New Mexico by Dr Logue and team, by setting up two mannequins wearing a UVA/UVB light, and also a mobile device, a laptop, and other digital devices (which emit HEV light). The researchers recorded one hour of exposure to the light. They found that iPads increased the exposure by 85%, a macbook by 75%, and when a phone was held close to the face, it increased exposure by 36%. Although this did not use real life participants, this study raised an important point regarding devices and the exposure it can have.
Further, a company named Lipo Chemicals conducted a study to analyse how the skin’s gene expression changes when exposed to HEV light. Lipo chemicals concluded that high energy visible light can affect the inflammatory cascade of the body, which can affect the skins progression to heal and barrier recovery.
So how can we reduce HEV damage? Firstly, sunscreen won’t work. This works to stop UV rays from damaging the skin, but as HEV light can penetrate the skin in other ways, sun screen is not enough. In order to maintain the skin’s health and prevent it from affects such as premature ageing, the skin must be shielded from HEV light. The melanin, which is a pigment found in our skins, which occurs naturally, is thought to be our first defence from harmful rays, however, the absorbance of HEV light from melanin is relatively low. Researchers are investigating different solutions to prevent HEV light from being harmful, but why not start with a blue light blocking
screen protector on your digital devices, including iPads, to cut down the amount of exposure you have to high energy visible (HEV) light? It is always important to take regular breaks from screen work.
Of course, screen work is a major part of our daily lives, making it harder to just walk away from all the selfies! Using an antioxidant cream can also be helpful. This research has shown that smartphones may be as bad, if not worse than the sun for your skin, so remember to keep an open mind and consider protection while taking them selfies!