Why Your Phone Is Making You Look Older

Is it time to hang up?

Hands up if you're addicted to using your mobile phone. Oh wait, none of us are actually able to do that because we're too busy -- yep, you guessed it -- using our mobile phones.

But before you hit send on that next text you might want to listen up. Your hand-held device habits might be making you look much older than you are.

It all comes down to the blue light emitted by the screens on electronic devices -- that's phones, tablets, TVs and computers -- and the effect it has on our skin.

Exposure to blue light -- also known as high energy visible light or HEVL -- has been shown to significantly decrease the concentration of carotenoids in our skin. This is not great news.

Tay-Tay and Ryan Seacrest are appropriately alarmed. Image: Getty.

Carotenoids are organic pigments that give our favourite fruits and veggies such as carrots, capsicums and bananas their red, yellow and orange hues. In humans carotenoids function like antioxidants.

Most of us are familiar with the word antioxidant -- it's been splashed across hundreds of beauty products for years, and for good reason. These molecules help protect us against cellular damage, the effects of aging, and even some chronic diseases.skin

But here's the kicker: that pesky blue light shining from our phone screens goes to town on our carotenoid count, leaving our skin sapped of antioxidant goodness and vulnerable to a whole spectrum of damaging rays.

We've all heard of ultraviolet rays or UV and their harmful effects. UVA rays cause skin aging while UVB is what makes us sunburnt and increases our risk of skin cancers.

Let's get super-technical here -- our skin is made up of several layers and UV rays can penetrate the top two, the epidermis and the dermis. That's about 100 to 400 nanometers -- think milimetres but smaller -- deep.

HEV light, on the other hand, can not only zip through the epidermis and the dermis but it can reach the deepest layer of all, the hypodermis. That's about 380 to 500 nm deep.

Image: Pinterest/Rejuvence Clinic.

This makes blue light potentially more damaging to the skin than ultraviolet rays. Yikes.

Before you head off to slather on some SPF you might want to think again. Standard sunscreens only protect against wavelengths of up to about 400 nm meaning they're ineffective when it comes to HEVL. Double yikes.

Now we're not saying that your only protection against evil blue light is to put down your phone and walk away forever. Perish the thought.

In fact, blue light isn't all bad. It can help to boost mood, reduce stress, improve memory and alertness but that's when we're exposed to it under certain conditions such as during the day and in regulated doses.

Blue light has been found to nix several strains of harmful bacteria and is even used in acne treatments.

But with the good comes the bad. Along with the ageing effects on our skin HEVL also damages the duration and quality of our sleep. That's why we find it hard to nod off after an evening scroll through Instagram.

If you can't give up your night-time social media routine then consider a pair of specs with a blue light-filtering lens. That won't protect your skin, however. For that you'll need to look out for skincare that specifically combats HEV light.

Luckily for us there are more and more of these blue light-blitzing products appearing on the market. Here's our pick of the bunch.

And remember -- you can't go past a good chat with your dermatologist to get the low-down on the best treatment to suit your skin's needs.

Dr Sebagh Supreme Day Cream
Image: Net-A-Porter.

Dr Sebagh Supreme Day Cream, 50ml, $248

MAKE Moonlight Primer
Image: Need Supply Co.

MAKE Moonlight Primer, 30ml, $73

SPF Rx Ultra Clear Daily Skin Hydrator
Image: Amazon.

SPF Rx Ultra Clear Daily Skin Hydrator, 50ml, $34

Elemis Daily Defence Shield SPF30
Image: Beauty Expert.

Elemis Daily Defence Shield SPF30, 40ml, $81

bareMinerals Complexion Rescue Defense
Image: bareMinerals.

bareMinerals Complexion Rescue Defense, 35 ml, $30

Skinceuticals Phloretin CF
Image: Adore Beauty.

Skinceuticals Phloretin CF, 30ml, $188.30

Philosophy help me retinol night treatment
Image: Philosophy.

Philosophy help me retinol night treatment, 30g, $65

Feature image: Getty.