Is Screen Time Aging Your Skin? Here’s What You Need To Know

While we all know that too much sun exposure worsens skin aging, most people don't know that the light from their digital devices can do the same thing! Learn how to avoid it here.

Jill Nystul • April 6, 2020

Jill Nystul • December 20, 2023

Jill Nystul • December 20, 2023

Jill Nystul • December 20, 2023

Back when I was growing up in sunny southern California, my only concern about sun exposure was getting enough to maintain my golden-brown suntan! The dangers of sun exposure weren’t widely understood back in the 60s and 70s, which seems unthinkable when you consider how seriously we take sun protection today!

And while we’ve come a long way since then, there’s still more to uncover about the way light affects our skin. And according to recent studies, it turns out that the light from our devices may be having a highly unwelcome effect on our skin!

How Digital Devices Are Aging Your Skin

The screens on our smartphones and other devices emit a particular kind of light called high-energy visible light (or HEV light). While the effects of HEV light are still being studied, new research suggests that it can actually accelerate the aging process.

While we already know that ultraviolet rays from the sun can cause oxidation that leads to inflammation, skin damage, and hyperpigmentation, a 2017 study found that HEV light had a similar effect on skin. Which means that even if you avoid excess sun exposure to avoid premature aging, your devices could be undermining your efforts!

But don’t give up hope just yet! Because fortunately for us, there are a few things we can do to protect our skin from the aging effects of HEV light!

3 Ways To Protect Your Skin From HEV Light

1. Adjust The Light Settings On Your Devices

You can adjust the light and display settings on your digital devices to reduce your exposure to HEV light. If you have an iPhone, you can use the built-in Night Shift feature to shift your display to warmer colors. (By default, Night Shift turns on at sunset and off at sunrise, but you can adjust the settings by going to Settings > Display & Brightness > Night Shift.)

For Androids and other devices, go to Settings > Display and look for either the Night Light or Blue light filter options. These features work the same way as Night Shift and can be adjusted to your liking.

2. Use Hands-Free Features

To avoid the direct contact of holding your phone against your face, use hands-free calling! I take calls through my AirPods all the time, and at this point I much prefer that to holding my phone the whole time. :-)

Apart from calls, you can also use your smartphone’s digital assistant to perform other tasks hands-free. Just ask Siri, Alexa, or the Google Assistant to set up events on your calendar, make notes, send texts, and more!

3. Wear SPF Every Day

And finally, don’t underestimate the power of good old sunscreen! Wearing some sort of product with SPF is the easiest way to protect yourself against light damage from the sun or from your screens.

Here are a few different skincare products that offer protection from HEV and other types of light:

If you often forget to apply sunscreen, I recommend working it into your daily skincare or makeup routine. There are so many different types of products with SPF in them these days, from BB and CC creams to primers to moisturizers. Just swap out one of your current everyday products for a version with SPF, and then you won’t need to remember to put it on! :-)

With these tips, you can use your devices confidently knowing that you’re protecting your skin from the aging effects of HEV light!