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What Is Our Selfie Obsession Actually Doing to Our Faces?

Those duck lips might actually be causing premature aging.
Kendall and Gigi show us how it's done. Photo: Imaxtree

Kendall and Gigi show us how it's done. Photo: Imaxtree

While we may roll our eyes every time we see someone stopping for a selfie against a wall mural or – ugh – daring to emulate Kim Kardashian's infamous duck face, we all have to own up to the fact that we've become selfie obsessed in one way or another. Even though some of us have the decency to selfie in private, or reserve selfies for rare special occasions, it's still a thing that happens rather frequently — and even more so now that Snapchat takes up a good portion of many millennials' days.

So, what will this added screen time actually do to our skin in the long run? We've recently been told that our screens emit a light (called HEV) that can lead to premature aging, and while little research has been done on this fact, dermatologists are suggesting that the wavelengths emitted from this light can be damaging to our skin. In addition, can the constant squinting and selfie posing be causing damage as well? Put simply: yes.

We spoke to multiple skin-care specialists, from dermatologists to estheticians, to find out what harm we may be doing each time we take a snap. Read on for our findings.

What Your Snaps May Cause

While you may be focused on upping the brightness or contrast on the pic you just snapped, you may not realize the strain you're putting on your eye area. Dr. Debra Luftman, a dermatologist on Simple Skin Care's Advisory Board, told us that staring at screens can cause eye strain, decreased blinking and squinting, which in turn can cause premature wrinkles, eyelid dryness and pigmentation — and thus, premature aging.

She also noted that while eyes are a big concern when it comes to snapping selfies, "The lip puckering for photos can cause dynamic wrinkles around the area."

Dr. Amy Perlmutter, a dermatologist with New York Dermatology Group, added that while there isn't formal scientific proof yet, taking selfies multiple times per day involves a number of factors that can possibly influence the aging process. "The increase in dynamic facial motions during the photos, like pursing the lips, animated or exaggerated facial expressions, repetitive squinting and a downward tilted gaze to read texts or emails, can all lead to increased wrinkle formation on the face and neck." Yikes.

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Esthetician Kerry Benjamin, founder of product line StackedSkinCare, echoed the above sentiments. In addition, she added that phones are breeding grounds for bacteria, which can inevitably lead to breakouts. To make matters worse, Benjamin pointed out that research suggests the blue waves emitted by screens essentially break down collagen — which we need! — and cause hyperpigmentation, though the extent to which is not yet known.

All the models at Dolce & Gabbana took selfies this SS16 season – even on the runway. Photo: Imaxtree. 

All the models at Dolce & Gabbana took selfies this SS16 season – even on the runway. Photo: Imaxtree. 

If You Keep Up the Selfies, This Is What to Expect

Due to the fact that we are just starting to see these signs of aging as the selfie obsession reaches fever pitch, we can only estimate what may happen 10 or 20 years down the road. Dr. Perlmutter noted that the first signs of aging from a phone screen would be fine lines around the eyes (due to increased squinting). Further down the line, you could develop sagging and creasing in the neck from tilting your head downward in order to achieve certain poses.

"Premature lines will get more noticeable significantly earlier in life, so you may start seeing signs of aging in your late 20s, with women starting to use Botox and filler earlier as a result," Benjamin told us.

What You Can Do About It

If premature aging isn't what you're after each time you take a selfie, there are plenty of things to keep in mind when you use your phone. Dr. Perlmutter suggested taking intermittent breaks while you're scrolling, and making sure to try keeping your neck in an upright position to help prevent neck folds. Posture is everything, friends.

Benjamin added that you should always be conscious of how often you squint at your phone, and up the size of your text if you need to in order to put a stop to it (and the subsequent crow's feet).

All of the experts also added to take extra care of your skin by moisturizing more, wearing SPF, drinking lots of water and consulting with your dermatologist if you have any other concerns. And of course, if all else fails, Dr. Luftman reminded us: "With Photoshop, this selfie generation can just erase wrinkles and aging on demand anyway!" Ain't that the truth