Beware the Selfie!

May 1, 2019
By: Dr. Van Dyke

I’m sitting here at a seminar for a national skin care line, watching a video on how important your skin is and the real need for understanding the science of skin care. After all skin is a living tissue. It is always pointed out that skin is the largest organ of the body. Compared to what? Well compared to brain, the heart, the liver, the kidneys and on and on. The thing about organs is that you need them to live. The corollary: you need your skin to live. Your good health depends on all of your organs working right. That means the skin must work right for you to be in the best health possible.

The most exciting thing to me as a dermatologist, in fact one of the reasons that I became a dermatologist is that you can see this organ, can see it’s health and can see it’s illness. Because everyone can see our skin it is part of how we present to the world.  It can be a  part of what makes up our self-esteem.  And it is part of how people judge us, and they do judge us.

Now assuming that your skin is normal (free of disease) why should you care about “skin care”. Well there are shades of healthy skin, dry, oily, aged, sundamaged, irritated, sensitive, red, blotchy, spotty and saggy. The entire aesthetic industry has grown around the idea that non diseased skin can be healthier and look better with proper care.

Back in the day moisturizers ruled, no science, no long term results, people bought them because they made the skin feel better and plumped up fine lines, as long as you kept the lotion or cream on your skin. Stop using and within hours the effect disappeared.

What is the norm now?  There is a lot of research into long term effects of many vitamins, chemicals and botanicals on the skin. All of this research is in an effort to actually make skin healthier now and more importantly to prevent a decline in skin health.  What are we fighting? Not just age but also assaults on the skin by pollution, sun, lifestyle and habits (good and bad).

The hot new topic and area of research is the effect of selfies on the skin. It is not good!! Not only do we now obsess over every imperfection in fine detail, but did you ever think that the phone in front of your face is damaging your skin?

Here are some facts:  average hours in front of a screen:  10 hours, average number of hours per day on social media:  2.15, average times you check your phone a day: 46.  If you are honest I bet many of us are in front of a computer, tablet, phone, watch, old fashioned TV even more than that.  What is the danger?  BLUE LIGHT!  It is the blue light that is emitted from these devices that is bad. 

Blue light breaks down molecules creating destructive free radicals that run around destroying your skin. We used to think that it was the sun that did that (and it does) and then pollution was identified as a culprit, and then just stress in general.  Now add to the list visible light, particularly the color blue.

Blue light penetrates even deeper than ultraviolet light.  We dose ourselves with more and more blue light everyday (and night) and It is time to think about stopping the madness!! No, I am not advocating for getting rid of screens (although it wouldn’t be bad to cut back a bit but that is a whole different discussion).  Let’s start protecting ourselves against the blue light as well as the other environmental evils.  Look for blue light protection in your skin care (hint: go for physician line products with high quality ingredients and strong science like the day and night dual system Lumivive by SkinMedica) and use mineral sunscreens that physically block light from interacting with skin.