Are you suffering from digital ageing? Here are the signs and how to fight it

Spoiler: you'll want to curb your screen time after reading this.

digital ageing
(Image credit: Getty Images/AleksandarNakic)

Prepare to hear a lot more about 'digital ageing' in 2021 now that 60% of us are spending more than six hours a day in front of digital devices and face-to-face meetings have been replaced by Zoom calls. 

The cumulative effects of these lifestyle choices, according to a new study by Unilever, make for shocking reading. Five working days can have the same impact on the skin as spending 25 minutes in midday sun without any protection. 

The main culprit for digital ageing? Blue high energy visible light (HEV), emitted from your laptop, phone or tablet. 

"Blue light can cause discolouration and damage collagen by creating free radicals," says Noella Gabriel, co-founder of Elemis. 

While limiting screen time is the obvious answer, real life solutions also have to come into play here. And that's precisely what the beauty world is delivering.  

According to Gabriel that means wearing a suncream, or a day cream with an SPF in the formula (try Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream SPF30) , even when you're indoors and only washing it off after a Netflix marathon last thing at night. 

In terms of the best sunscreen to wear, ensure it contains zinc oxide, a mineral sunscreen that creates a protective barrier over the skin to shield against blue light. We recommend Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense Broad Spectrum SPF30, which is especially good for dark skin tones as it doesn't leave behind any kind of chalky residue.

Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream SPF30, $128 [£87], Lookfantastic

Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream SPF30 pot

(Image credit: Lookfantastic)

Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense Broad Spectrum SPF30, $34 [£29, Space NK]

Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense Broad Spectrum SPF30 tube

(Image credit: Drunk Elephant)

Vitamin C is also one of the best free radical scavengers on the market and has the added benefit of helping to brighten patches of pigmentation. 'Vitamin C works to fade all types of pigmentation. I would recommend a concentration of 10% or higher," says Dr Alexis Granite, consultant dermatologist at Maullucci London.

Numerous studies have also found that vitamin C is essential for collagen production and that it acts directly on our DNA. La Roche-Posay Pure Vitamin C10 Serum is a purse-friendly option based on solid science.

Finally, niacinamide became one of the buzziest ingredients last year for good reason. "Niacinamide also reduces the impact of environmental damage because of its ability to improve skin’s barrier (its first line of defense), plus it also plays a role in helping skin to repair signs of past damage," says Paula Begoun, founder of Paula's Choice skincare. 

You can use her 10% Niacinamide Booster on its own or mixed into your favourite moisturiser to help protect surface cells from blue-light-infuced oxidative stress.

But with that said, don’t sub skincare for added screen time.

La Roche-Posay Pure Vitamin C10 Serum, $39 [£28.50, Lookfantastic]

La Roche-Posay Pure Vitamin C10 Serum bottle

(Image credit: Lookfantastic)

Paula's Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster, $44 [£41, Cult Beauty]

Paula's Choice Niacinamide bottle

(Image credit: Cult Beauty)

Fiona Embleton is a beauty writer who is now Acting Beauty Editor at Stylist. She is obsessed with Isabel Marant and cats.