Derms Debate: Do Selfies Really Give You Wrinkles?

Whether you love or loathe selfies, there’s some startling news out of London that may have you putting down your phone faster than you typically send an unknown number to voicemail.

As reported at the Facial Aesthetic Conference and Exhibition last week, Dr. Simon Zoakei, medical director of the Linia Skin Clinic in Harley Street, said: “Those who take a lot of selfies and bloggers should worry. Even the blue light we get from our screens can damage our skin. I think there is a gap in the market for products, which protect because I know there are people who take lots of selfies, and bloggers who come to me and I have seen that there is damage there and there aging taking place. It's a different wavelength of radiation, so sunscreen will not block it.”

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“The blue light from computer screens and cell phones does have infrared in it,” Montclair, NJ, dermatologist Jeanine Downie, MD, says, explaining that blue light ranges from 380 to 500nm, which makes it different than the sun’s rays. Her pick to help protect skin: SkinMedica Total Defense + Repair, which shields against UVA, UVB and infrared waves. “LED lights are light-emitting diodes—these can also damage eyes, including the retina,” she adds. “Using sunscreen and strong antioxidants is very beneficial and will help to slow down the aging of your skin as well. I would lean toward higher-level antioxidants like those found within Sente Dermal Repair or the DNA repair product called Photozyme.”

“Every person every day needs to use a product that will help strengthen their skin,” says Beverly Hills, CA, dermatologist Zein Obagi, MD. “Look for a sunscreen that contains fractionated melanin, which can help to protect against visible light from your computer screens and iPhones—all ZO Skin Health Sunscreens contain fractionated melanin and can help guard against this type of aggressor.”

But not every derm thinks this is an immediate skin threat. “To my knowledge, there is no clinical data supporting a link between 'selfie' photos with your smart phone and pre-mature aging of the face,” says Seattle dermatologist Jennifer Reichel, MD. “I might be able to associate over-expression of the facial muscles with aging, as expressions—such as squinting your eyes, or furrowing your brow—can lead to wrinkles, which make you appear older than you are. However, premature aging would not immediately make me jump to the conclusion that you were taking way too many selfies. I mean, I don't ask that in a normal cosmetic consultation concerning aging—and can't imagine why I would.”

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