Your cellphone could be making you look old by damaging your skin

Could that smartphone, that tablet, that laptop be damaging your skin? That was a question dermatologists began talking about in Europe in 2016 at the Facial Aesthetics Conference and Exhibition.

A study looked at what high energy visible light (HEV light) was doing to skin and found that it was similar to ultraviolet A rays in that it damages the skin, causing premature aging, wrinkles and fine lines. It doesn’t cause the skin cancer and sunburn associated with UVB rays, but there is some evidence that HEV could damage our skin’s DNA as well.

What does all this mean to us?

“It means that you have to protect yourself every day,” says Dr. Ted Lain, an Austin dermatologist with Sanova Dermatology.

That means wearing sunscreen, whether you’re going outside or staying inside.

In this case, the SPF number isn’t what you’re going to look for in a sunscreen, Lain says. Instead, you’re looking for a tinted sunscreen with strong antioxidants like iron oxide. “It’s like an internal sunscreen for the cells,” he says. “It protects our cells at the DNA level.”

You can find these sunscreens both at your grocery store and your dermatologist’s office. You should apply it once a day if you’re inside and not sweating it off.

You still need a sunscreen with SPF (sun protection factor) for the sun’s UVB rays that cause sunburn and skin cancer. In fact, Lain says, new research reversed an old theory about how high an SPF you need. The FDA used to say that the difference between SPF 50 and SPF 100 was not noticeable. Now, researchers found it does actually make a difference whether you have SPF 50 or SPF 100. You see, in a lab, the difference wasn’t noticeable, but in real-life application of sunscreen it did matter because we never put a thick enough layer on ourselves.

You should use about an ounce (think shot glass-full) of sunscreen in a thick layer that you rub in. Don’t forget areas like the ears, neck and cheeks. If you’re outside and sweating, reapply it every 80 minutes, Lain says.

Especially in Austin, where we are exposed to the sun so often, making sure we have a high enough SPF in our sunscreen is important. “Anything below SPF 30 is a waste of time,” Lain says.

If you thought you were getting enough protection in your makeup with SPF 15, you need to add in a sunscreen on top of that.

More technology is on the horizon in skin care, Lain says. Soon there will be mirrors and phone apps that will tell us how healthy our skin is and where we need more moisture.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Lifestyle

Olympian who almost drowned works to boost swim skills in others
Olympian who almost drowned works to boost swim skills in others

When he was 5 years old, Cullen Jones swooped down a slide at a Pennsylvania waterpark aboard an innertube. At the bottom, his tube flipped, trapping him underwater for half a minute. Jones lost consciousness. Lifeguards had to pull him out of the water and resuscitate him. But instead of letting that accident spark a fear of water in her son, Jones&rsquo...
Today’s birthdays - Sunday, February 25
Today’s birthdays - Sunday, February 25

Today’s Birthdays: Actress Ann McCrea is 87. Actor Tom Courtenay is 81. Former CBS newsman Bob Schieffer is 81. Actress Diane Baker is 80. Actress Karen Grassle is 76. Former professional wrestler Ric Flair is 69. Humorist Jack Handey is 69. Movie director Neil Jordan is 68. Rock singer-musician/actor John Doe (X) is 65. Rock musician Dennis...
Today’s horoscopes - Sunday, February 25

ARIES (March 21-April 19). It’s difficult not to get attached to things today, especially when they fall so perfectly in line with who you think you are. Of course, we’re never who we think we are, any more than we are who others think we are. TAURUS (April 20-May 20). Should you maximize your gains or minimize your losses? It depends on...
Gear up for rodeo, spring and more Austin family fun, Feb. 25-March 3
Gear up for rodeo, spring and more Austin family fun, Feb. 25-March 3

Events Rodeo Austin Cowboy Breakfast. Eat breakfast like a cowboy. 6 a.m. Friday. Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive. Texas Independence Day Parade. Celebrate the history of Texas. Free. 9:30 a.m. Saturday. Congress Ave. Explore UT. Find activities throughout the University of Texas campus. Free. 11 a.m. to 5 p...
Dear Abby - Sunday, February 25

Dear Abby: I am a 70-year-old male former teacher and social worker. I stopped dating 30 years ago because the only women I had loved had all dumped me. I felt I was only a temporary convenience to them. Since then, I haven’t been romantically involved with anyone so I would not be dumped again. However, I am lonely for female companionship and...
More Stories