As the sun gets brighter, the rays get hotter and the Summer days get longer, naturally the instinct to protect our skin gets stronger. But while we are well versed with the art of upping our SPF 50+ game, wearing hats and avoiding sunlight between 10-2pm where possible, how about the unexpected blue light that’s shining directly onto our skin every day? Turns out, that blue light exposure we’re tanning our faces with incidentally every day while scrolling our ‘gram is causing us a whole lot more skin damage than we realise. Welcome to the new skin damage phenomena that is—’Cellphone Spots.’
Much like sun spots, ‘Cellphone Spots’ as they’ve been dubbed, is essentially pigmentation as a result of strong blue light exposure, and it’s now a science-backed condition. According to a new report published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, visible blue light exposure to skin has been proven to significantly develop darker and more long term pigmentation. And this also comes off the back of another study recently that found high blue light also has the same premature ageing effects as UVA rays—so it’s safe to say we need to drastically improve our ‘cellphone smarts’ if we’re looking to maintain a youthful glow in the long term. But the big question is, how do we do it? With eyes practically glued to our screens, it’s safe to say our exposure to blue light is as frequent—if not more—as it is to the sunlight. To navigate this whole ‘Cellspot’ situation, Amodrn has called upon Sydney skin expert, Cosmetic Physician, Dr. Phoebe Jones, to find out just how high risk we are, how we can combat it and what to do to keep up a spot-free complexion.
How concerned should we be by the likelihood of developing ‘Cellphone Spots’?
“In the study, the quality and quantity induced by visible light and UVA1 were different, with visible light found to induce darker and more sustained pigmentation,” says Dr Jones. “What this means is we do need to understand that our skin needs to be protected from light sources other than the sun including indoor artificial light, TV and computer screens, as well as iPads, tablets and smartphones.”
Have you noticed an increase in ‘Cellphone Spots’ as a condition in your clinic?
“I have seen an increase in people seeking treatment for pigmentation issues such as sun spots, freckles and melasma—which could definitely be said to have coincided with increased screen time on computers, TV and iPads and iPhones in particular,” says Dr Jones. “It’s hard to say whether this correlation is due to blue light exposure or whether people are becoming more educated about treatments such as cosmeceuticals, peels and lasers but I definitely believe more research would be invaluable to identify this statistically.”
What would be your top tips for swerving ‘cellphone spots’
1. Limit your screen time
“Especially if you have taken your daytime protective sunscreen and makeup off for the day, it’s important to be mindful of your screen time.”
“Perhaps switch over to a dimmer or a warmer light setting on your iPhone (this will help benefit sleep too, limiting circadian rhythm disturbances).”
3. Lock in that protective layer
“To protect against these light sources, chemical sunscreens are not going to be sufficient. Look for physical filters including zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to combat pigmentation (until further research is done).”
And if the pigmentation damage is already done?
“During the day niacinamide is a great ingredient that can be worn topically to help with pigmentation, and by night, aim for an effective cosmeceutical like prescription hydroquinone and tretinoin,” says Dr Jones.
“Alternatively, other useful skin brighteners include kojic acid, retinol, vitamin c, liquorice root extract.” “Lasers can also be really effective to help clear pigmentation,” says Dr Jones. “First make sure you have the skin condition diagnosed properly—for example, if it’s sun or visible blue light damage in a type 1 or 2 skin person it can be treated with a more intense laser to get effective results quite quickly. Whereas if you are a type 3 skin melasma patient you will need multiple gentle treatments over a long period of time with cosmeceuticals to see a result.”