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Beauty / Health and wellbeing | 25.08.2016

What you need to know now about Netflix Face

 

The most addictive series to binge-watch on Netflix at the moment has to be Stranger Things. It’s Steven King meets Steven Spielberg with a dash of X-Files on the side. It stars Winona Ryder in an incredible career comeback as an angst-ridden mother searching for her son who is lost in a strange, supernatural dimension. Are you hooked yet?

Binge-watching a great show is undoubtedly fun, but it’s not doing your skin any favours.

A British dermatologist recently warned that too much screen time can prematurely age your skin. The effect is being called ‘Netflix Face’, where prolonged periods staring at a screen can actually add years to your face.  

Dr Justine Hextall from The Harley Medical Group in London said recently there is emerging evidence that light from smartphones, computer screens and TVs, which is referred to as high energy visible light (HEV) can penetrate into the deeper levels of the skin.

Dr Hextall told The Daily Mail that too much screen time "results in free radical damage that is upregulating an enzyme MMP-1.”

This enzyme breaks down skin collagen and elastin, the structures that keep the skin firm and youthful, leading to the development of fine lines and wrinkles, as well as sagging skin.

Dr Hextall also said using a laptop or smartphone outdoors increases our exposure to UVA and UVB light due to the reflective qualities of the screen. Even more reason to cover up and wear sunscreen and a hat when you’re outside.

Steer clear of the blue light disco

HEV light is also called blue light. It is high-frequency, high-energy light in the violet/blue band in the visible spectrum and isn’t only linked with premature ageing of the skin, but eye strain, macular degeneration and disrupted sleep patterns.

Blue light is actually everywhere. Light from the sun travels through the atmosphere. The shorter, high energy blue wavelengths collide with the air molecules causing blue light to scatter everywhere. This is what makes the sky look blue. In its natural form, your body uses blue light from the sun to regulate your natural sleep and wake cycles. This is known as your circadian rhythm.

Blue light also helps boost alertness, heighten reaction times, elevate moods, and increase your feeling of wellbeing.

It’s the artificial sources of blue light we need to worry about – TVs, computers, smartphones, tablets, energy-efficient fluorescent bulbs and LED lights.

Most of today’s electronic devices are backlit by LED light to enhance screen brightness and clarity, but we’re being exposed to too much blue light due to our massive screen use.

And I mean MASSIVE.

A new national survey from R U OK? has revealed Aussies spend an average of 46 hours of their weekly downtime looking at their TVs and digital devices, compared to an average of six hours engaging with family and friends.

So too much screen time isn’t just affecting our skin, our eyes and our sleep, but our relationships.

could safe screens help combat Netflix face?

Tech companies are now developing safe screens, which shift the harmful blue light frequencies, which are below 450 nanometres (violet) to above 460 nanometres (navy blue).

Dutch company Philips unveiled its ‘SoftBlue’ computer screens at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin last year, claiming its easier on the eyes (and hopefully the skin). Asus and BenQ, along with American firm ViewSonic are also introducing safe screens.

You can also download various blue light filters for your devices, which emit crimson or yellowish light for night use, so your sleep won’t be disturbed.

But really, these are just Band-aid measures.

The real problem isn’t with the screens or blue light – it’s with our overconsumption of screen time and we don’t really need a smart screen or a filter to fix that.

We just need a mirror.

time to face the facts

Dr Hextall also warns about the effects on skin of other regular pastimes in today’s society and has coined these phrases:

Are you a binge-watcher and if so, do you worry about the health and beauty effects of too much screen time? And just for fun. . . what's your favourite show at the moment? 

@bymukti

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