Selfies – a simple way to connect with social media followers, or the height of modern-day narcissism? If you’re a fan – and there are many, just look to Instagram – listen up: selfies can apparently accelerate ageing. Dermatologists have suggested that regularly exposing the face to the blue light and electromagnetic radiation emitted by smartphones can damage the skin in the long term.
“I think there is a gap in the market for products which protect because I know there are people who take lots of selfies, and bloggers who come to me and I have seen that there is damage and ageing taking place. It’s a different wavelength of radiation so sunscreen will not block it,” Dr Simon Zokaie, medical director of the Linia Skin Clinic in Harley Street, said at the FACE conference in London last week. “Those who take a lot of selfies and bloggers should worry. Even the blue light we get from our screens can damage our skin.”
Of course selfies are a relatively new phenomenon, meaning that the effects can only be examined in their earliest stages. Selfie was named word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries in 2013 and the concept has sparked an entire industry of apps, tools and devices (imagine trying to explain the concept of a selfie stick to somebody in the Nineties), but until now was viewed more as a social-media nuisance than an adversary in the fight against wrinkles.
But for those selfie-haters among you relishing the (admittedly delicious) irony of selfie-ageing only affecting those of us most concerned with our own faces, remember that smartphones in general are bad news for your complexion. There’s the notion of “tech neck”, caused by constantly looking down at our screens, and the horrifying reminder that we’re constantly pressing our cheeks against devices that carry more bacteria than a toilet seat.