Yesterday, I woke up to a text from my mom. Was it an emergency? Of course not. Instead, she was sending me a story she heard about on the radio about how selfies are apparently “as damaging to skin as sunbathing.” Naturally, she heard this story and automatically thought of me. How sweet! I really don’t think I take a lot more selfies than the average millennial, but nonetheless, I don’t want my skin to be ruined just because it takes me 50 pictures to find the right angle. I wear sunscreen every day, so should I be wearing selfie-screen too? I need answers!
First, let’s go through what this new report actually says, because I’m a little skeptical. According to “nurse and beauty therapist” (idk what that means) Sara Cheeney, the electromagnetic rays emitted from our phones can accelerate aging at an “alarming” rate. Cheeney says that she “has noticed a sharp rise in the number of patients suffering from selfie-induced skin damage and claims ‘the results are quite alarming. I get a lot of bloggers and patients who take selfies every day coming to me and complaining about the issue, and it’s an issue which seems to be getting worse'”.
First of all, I love the phrase “bloggers and patients,” as if bloggers are some different form of humans who don’t count as regular patients. Sounds about right. The original article also quotes dermatologist Zein Obagi, who says that he can tell which hand patients use to take selfies based on their skin damage. “You start to see dull, dirty looking texture that you cannot identify on one side of the face.”
Excuse me? Are they trying to say that even with a seven-step skincare regimen, the selfies that you can take are making your skin look dirty? This just doesn’t seem fair. Also, what makes taking selfies specifically so bad when we’re all looking at our phone screens all day long anyway? Needless to say, I was left with some important questions.
In order to get a little more context, I reached out to Deanne Mraz Robinson, Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology at Yale New Haven Hospital. She broke things down for us:
“Electromagnetic radiation extends across a spectrum from high energy to low energy. High frequency (energy) radiation can penetrate our skin deeper than low frequency energy. Cell phones emit blue light, which is also known as high energy visible (HEV) light. This is a form of high frequency and high energy light. There is evidence that excessive HEV can damage our skin, break down collagen in addition to causing issues such as hyperpigmentation.”
Essentially, she’s saying that the initial report was more or less correct. The blue light emitted from your phone can damage your skin. But I think the most important thing to note, both from the original story and from Dr. Robinson, is that none of this is specific to taking selfies. Sure, it’s more attention-grabbing to say that selfies are going to kill us all, but your phone is emitting blue light the entire time you’re using it. Basically…we’re fucked?
Dr. Robinson does recommend using protection against the blue light from your phone, and her recommended product for this is the ISDIN Mineral Brush 50, a facial sunscreen powder that “contains iron oxides that protect skin from photoaging and blue light.” It’s new product that’s not available in the US yet, but once it is, I’ll definitely be giving it a try. We could probably all benefit from using our phones a little bit less, but products like this are a more realistic way to protect our skin.
So, should you stop taking selfies? Perhaps. But you’re probably not going to, and it’s okay, neither am I. But it’s good to understand what potential side effects technology has on our bodies, and to make choices with these side effects in mind. That being said, don’t ever let anyone tell you your skin looks dirty, because you are not the one.
Images: Vinicius Amano / Unsplash; ISDIN
“You stay attached to your screen all day long and that thing will fry your brain cells.” It’s the modern day “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid.” Parents have been condemning cell phones since they gave you your first Motorola Razr and you ran up all the data by accidentally pressing the internet button and trying to cancel it by jamming END twenty times. And despite your biggest dramatic eye roll and subsequent text to your group chat that your mom is like soooo annoying, there’s that small part of you that has always wondered, “Oh shit, can too much Tinder swiping actually give me cancer?” Betches
and some scientists with actual credentials investigate.
The California Department of Public Health has just released new guidelines for cell phone use, telling users how we can avoid harmful radiation from cell phones. These guidelines include:
· Keeping the phone away from the body
· Reducing cell phone use when the signal is weak
· Reducing the use of cell phones to stream audio or video, or to download or upload large files
· Keeping the phone away from the bed at night
· Removing headsets when not on a call
· Avoiding products that claim to block radio frequency energy (these products may actually increase your exposure)
Alright, first of all, no. No one is keeping my phone away from my body unless they are prying it from my cold, dead hands. The CDPH recommends keeping your phone out of your pocket and instead putting it in a purse, or not carrying it with you at all. Please refer to my last statement about my cold, dead hands. Also, a woman’s tote/purse is a bottomless Mary Poppins pit and everyone knows that you’ll never find your phone by the time it stops ringing if it’s jumbled in with all of your receipts, chapstick, and
weed other useless crap. Plus, in the case of a mugging, it’s much easier to snatch a bag off a shoulder than reach into someone’s skinny jeans ass-pocket. That’s just street smarts. You’re welcome.
Keeping the phone at arms length while you sleep is another long shot request. Unofficial cellular data reports that I am making up on the spot, find that phones are most active between the hours of “trying to fall asleep” and “laying in bed drunk texting your ex while you’re 54 weeks deep in their new gf’s Insta feed.” Honestly, if you haven’t smashed yourself in the face with your own phone while dropping it mid-text as you drift off to sleep, have you truly lived?
Don’t start angry tweeting at Apple customer service for frying your insides just yet, because research isn’t even conclusive, and the official position of the CDPH is that “the science is still evolving.” So receiving an unsolicited dick pic won’t give you cancer in the medical sense, but the sender could stand to have a quick MRI to check for brain damage. Speaking of, cellphone use is not only potentially attributed to the risk of brain tumors, but also to headaches, impaired memory, hearing, and sleep, and low sperm count. Fuckboys of the world, you’ve been warned. Text too many girls in one night, and you could be killing a whole squadron of little swimmers.
Bottom line is, you probs shouldn’t have your cellphone constantly glued to your body where it can be fucking with your health. With children as young as 10 getting their first cell phones, we may very possibly see a whole bunch of health issues arise from prolonged exposure to radio frequency at such an early age, but until someone comes out with indisputable correlative evidence, I’m still gonna risk a teensy bit of cancer to keep my Snapchat stories on point.
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