Go to top of page

Do mobile phones cause ageing to the human skin?

20 June 2018

An article published in the Daily Mail Australia on 18 June 2018, reports that using a mobile phone can be as damaging on your skin as being out in the sun. The article mentions scientific research published in 2015 that shows blue light exposure from phototherapy applications can aid in the production of free radicals in human skin. However, the level of blue light exposure from phototherapy is much higher than mobile phones and is therefore is not comparable. Blue light from screens may, however, be a disruptor of the human sleep-wake cycles.

The 2015 research that was conducted reports the effect of blue light from phototherapy applications in the destruction of carotenoids. These carotenoids are dietary intake substances that protect the skin from oxidative stress and therefore reduce the production of free radicals. While this relationship was reported in this study, it should be noted that the level of exposure from phototherapy is much higher than that from common screen based technologies such as mobile phones and tablets and therefore not comparable when considering these biological effects.

Our advice on the hazard from exposure to blue-light is consistent with the International Commission on Non-ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) which is supported by the 2017 findings of the Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks (SCHEER) Preliminary opinion on Potential risks to human health of Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs).

SCHEER found that exposure to blue light from the LEDs that are integral components in the screens of smartphones and other devices in the night-time hours suppresses the production of melatonin, which contributes to the regulation of sleep and wake cycles. The health implications of the disruption of the day and night (circadian) rhythm remain unclear and continue to be the subject of research.

It is concerning that the exposure from smartphones has been compared to the same time spent in the sun. Time in the sun results in exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR), a known carcinogen.

Visit our sun exposure and health page to find out more about UV radiation and how to protect yourself.