What Your Electronics Are Really Doing To Your Skin

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It’s a fact: We live in a digital, technology-focused world in which electronic devices reign supreme. Great in many senses, but we’d be remiss to not also consider the effects such a lifestyle has on our health—and as a skincare-obsessed crew, we wanted to learn more specifically about what it does (and doesn’t do) to our complexion.

Present in cell phones and televisions, non-ionizing radiation has been a hot-button topic. Despite an onslaught of research, the results remain inconclusive as to whether or not it increases the risk for cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute. That said, exposure to such radiation is known to produce heat (think: microwave ovens), however using mobile phones, for example, typically does not increase body temperature to any level of concern. Nonetheless there’s still a lot that we don’t know, and until more definitive proof surfaces the general consensus is to remain thoughtful about heavy usage of such devices. So what about computer screens? Unless you’re working with a cathode ray tube (CRT) monitor you likely won’t be exposed to any UV radiation—most modern models use LCD or LED screens. Collective sigh of relief.

Cell phones and personal computers are a part of our everyday lives. Photos: @damselindior and @marianna_hewitt

However, this is not the only byproduct of electronics to consider: All electrically charged objects produce electromagnetic fields (EMF), and according to the World Health Organization, those emitted by mobile phones are classified as "possibly carcinogenic to humans." The WHO also cites computers as a common source of man-made EMF. The organization notes that in the case of the frequencies used by mobile phones, the majority of this energy is absorbed by the skin and other superficial tissues (translation: it's an opportunity for cell damage). Though the skin does have natural defense mechanisms to combat the effects of such emissions, we wanted to know what to do in the short-term to further ward off any evils. We asked holistic skincare guru Susan Ciminelli for her top tips on the topic (aside from making a conscious effort to limit our exposure when possible).

Detoxifying herbs and algae-based products, to the rescue.

How do the signs of radiation show up on your skin?

"Radiation and exposure to electronics bring down your immune system. The signs of this vary from person to person depending on the health conditions of each. Typically the skin coloring could be affected, as well as the appearance of dark circles under the eyes."

What products can people work with topically to lessen or reverse these effects?

"Any skincare product containing seaweed—it's such an important ingredient. Both that and algae are highly detoxifying."

Is there anything people can add to their diets to further bolster immunity?

"Again, seaweed is very helpful in ridding the body of toxins, as are fresh herbs such as cilantro, basil, oregano and parsley. A macrobiotic diet is most important if you have been exposed to a lot of radiation—especially miso soup, seaweed salads, healthy oils (such as sesame oil) and fish as your protein. Brown rice and steamed root vegetables round out the meal. Think of it in the simplest terms: Consistently eating healthy foods helps boost your immune system and thus combats the effects of radiation exposure."

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