We know that using your smartphone before (or in) bed makes it that much harder to get a good night's sleep. But it turns out our nightly Instagram habit has yet another side-effect—it's ruining our skin, too.
A new research study into the impact of blue light emissions on the skin has proven this particular type of light can cause free radical damage to our skin. While we are primarily exposed to blue light from the sun, it is also emitted from our TV, laptop and phone screens, which means we're getting a lot more exposure than is recommended, especially at night.
No surprises that, according to Dr. Nadine Pernodet, Vice President of Skin Biology at the Estée Lauder Research Lab, blue light is one of the main environmental contributors to skin damage.
"[The research] reveals that the dramatic increase in exposure to light pollution, in the form of blue light at night, is negatively impacting our bodies, disrupting our natural circadian rhythm and sleep, and consequently disrupting natural repair processes." That includes the skin's repair process, which occurs mostly—you guessed it—at night.
"[Estée Lauder’s experiments showed] for the first time that blue light at night impacts skin's natural circadian rhythm, thus inhibiting skin's natural repair, which can lead to accelerated signs of skin ageing."
Just as the blue light of your phone screen, laptop or tablet tricks your brain into alertness, it also stops your skin from going into its vital self-repair mode. "When this critical natural nighttime process is impaired, there is an accumulation of damage, which can lead to visible signs of ageing, and even dark under eye circles," Dr. Pernodet says. Time to put the phone down.
Knowledge is power—so now you've got the intel, here's what to do about it.
1. Implement 'No Screen' Time
This one is a no-brainer. If you haven't already, put a 'screen ban' in place before bed to reduce your blue light exposure. Experts recommend at least two hours without screens before you hit the pillow—not just your phone but e-books and streaming shows on your laptop too. Switch to an actual book instead.
2. USE PRODUCTS TO FIGHT THE EFFECTS OF BLUE LIGHT
Off the back of its research, Estée Lauder has re-formulated its classic Advanced Night Repair range to better combat the damaging effects of blue light exposure. The Advanced Night Repair Eye Supercharged Complex ($105) features a 10-times more concentrated formula than the original; in-vitro testing showed that the new formula improved skin tone and reduced the appearance of dark under eye circles in just three weeks.
When you wake up in the morning, keep your skin hydrated and protected for the day with Clinique's Dramatically Different Hydrating Jelly Anti-Pollution ($50).
3. Make a 'Tomorrow' List
Stress is another factor that can seriously impact health of your skin. If you're finding it difficult to switch off come bedtime (and enduring a restless sleep when you finally do drift off), try 'emptying' your mind by writing a list of every task and worry that's keeping you up at night. The physical act of writing these stray thoughts down on paper (remember, no phones!) means you don't have to worry about forgetting them in the morning, allowing your mind to let them go in the meantime.
If you're getting an unbroken eight hours' sleep you won't be re-hydrating your body in that time, so it's important to fully hydrate before you go to bed. That means a big glass of water before you sleep with an added serve of a beauty supplement for a skin boost from within.