Your Phone Screen Could Be Giving You Under-Eye Wrinkles

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In a fast-paced modern society, we rely on mobile phones for almost every basic need and want. A smartphone is like a 21st-century genie's lamp: we can use it to communicate with people, check the news, find directions anywhere, make banking transfers, and kill boredom. According to App Annie's State of Mobile 2021 report, people spent 4.8 hours per day on their phones, which translates to nearly a third of their waking hours (via Daily Mail). "Mobile is the greatest of all time and the go-to device of the future," Theodore Krantz, CEO of App Annie told the publication.

However, too much of anything is not good. Overdependence on mobile phones can lead to decreased in-person interactions, a higher risk of getting into traffic accidents, and an increased likelihood of obsessive mobile phone use, Tech 21 Century warns. Numerous studies suggest that prolonged exposure to phone screens might also lead to the premature aging of skin — namely under-eye wrinkles. Most of us are no strangers to the correlation between frequent sun exposure and premature aging, which is why we are instructed to lather up with sunscreen before going outside. But is it likely that using a mobile phone might also expose us to a source of light that can damage our skin the same way that the sun does? Here are some insights from experts.

Blue light from phone screens can harm the skin

Despite the fact that the majority of mobile devices do not emit harmful radiation, some research indicates that prolonged exposure to blue light, which is a high-energy visible light, may harm the skin. Blue light is naturally found in sunlight but also emits from TV screens, laptops, cell phones, and incandescent light bulbs, per Healthline. According to a 2015 study published in the journal Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, blue light can cause free radicals in the skin, resulting in premature aging and other skin issues.

2018 study published in the Journal of Biomedical Physics and Engineering also lends support to the idea that blue light can contribute to skin wrinkling. The study concluded that blue light emitted from phone screens can boost the generation of oxidative stress within the skin which worsens inflammation and speeds up the aging process.

Your phone screen can give your under-eye wrinkles

You may think that a little phone use is nothing in the grand scheme of things, but it can take a toll on your skin over time. According to Murad Skincare, you are subjected to the same amount of energy spending 20 minutes in the sun as you are spending four eight-hour workdays in front of your computer. If you sit in front of your computer screens for eight hours per day, use your mobile phones to text, call, and doomscroll, and then Netflix and chill at home — imagine how much blue light you're exposed to on a daily basis.

Blue light from mobile phones or any digital source can damage the already delicate skin around your eyes, resulting in under-eye wrinkles. "Blue light is certainly suspected to cause damage to the skin though as it can induce oxidative stress, which in turn disrupts skin's barrier and damages cells," board-certified dermatologist Dr. Kim Nichols explained to InStyle. "This can then result in accelerated aging of the skin, discoloration, and increase the appearance of dark circles under the eyes."

How much screen time per day is safe?

Too much screen time can spell trouble for our overall well-being. As far as safety goes, health experts say adults should limit their non-work screen time to no more than two hours per day, according to The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. The rest of the day should be spent engaging in physical activity or spending time with friends and family face-to-face, rather than on screens. Taking a break from the screen whenever possible is helpful for your physical, emotional, and mental well-being.

To unplug yourself from technology, Reid Health suggests turning off notifications to ward off the temptation of getting back online, setting a timer while you are watching TV or using your phone, and leaving your phone out of the bedroom to kill the habit of scrolling before bedtime and upon waking. Going on a trip to a place where there's no cell service is also a great way for you to beat your addiction to phone use and learn to enjoy yourself without technology.

Other health hazards of excessive phone use

Your under-eye area is not the only aspect of your health that bears the brunt of excessive screen time. A 2017 study in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research found that smartphone use might have an adverse impact on one's cognitive functioning and attention capacity.

Blue light from phone use can also mess with the body's internal process that regulates your sleep–wake cycle. For instance, texting or reading from your phone around bedtime can make it difficult for you to fall asleep, compromise your sleep quality, and make you tired throughout the following day. A 2021 study published in Frontiers in Psychiatry examined smartphone usage among 1,043 people between the ages of 18 and 30. Findings revealed that those who reported excessive cellphone use also reported having bad sleep. This is most likely because using a smartphone right before bed has been found to delay the body's natural circadian rhythm, which regulates sleep and wakefulness. Poor sleep quality or lack of sleep can make an adult's skin cells thinner, leading to wrinkles and noticeable dark circles under the eyes, per Insider.

How to protect your skin from phone screen

If you want your skin to stay youthful for as long as possible, you might want to limit your screen time. Additionally, many people consider wearing blue light glasses — also known as blue light-blocking glasses. As the name suggests, these glasses contain lenses specifically designed to filter and curtail the amount of blue light that enters the eye. While there is no harm in wearing them, it is important to mention that there is not yet enough research to definitively state that these glasses can prevent blue light from causing potential damage within and around the area of your eye, per Medical News Today.

One simple way to reduce exposure to blue light is by using apps that filter blue light rays on your phone, cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Kenneth Mark told HuffPost. There are many apps like these available for download, such as Night Shift, f.lux, and Blue Light Hub. If you use the screen a lot, consider investing in a broad-spectrum sunscreen specifically designed to block blue light. For example, formulas containing zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, or iron oxide are useful in protecting the skin from blue light, preventing premature wrinkle formation and skin discoloration.