Sophie Cullinane | Features Editor | 1,210 day ago

What’s Your iPhone Actually Doing To Your Face?

The Debrief: We all know our iPhone obsession isn’t ideal, but would you still be so addicted if you thought it was messing with your face?

Illustrations by Josh McKenna

We've become pretty adept at shrugging off all those warnings in the media about how our iPhone addiction is ruining our lives. So what if our smartphones are turning us into reclusive, home-dwellers who’d rather refresh their Instagram feeds than actually interact with real-life, flesh and bones human beings? The outdoor people are overrated anyway. And, yes, maybe iPhones are ruining our sex lives, but how much did you ever really like sex anyway? And besides, who needs sex when you have all the dick-pics you could possibly ask for on Tinder? Yes? No? Have we lost you?

The possibility that we're destroying our interpersonal skills and sex lives is one thing, but stories that really freak us out are the ones telling us how much our smartphones are messing with our faces. Losing all of our friends and social skills are one thing, but are we really prepared to wave goodbye to our youthful good looks (ahem)? 

So how worried should we actually be? ‘It feels like you can’t open a research journal – or national newspaper for that matter – without coming across a scare-mongering horror story implying that your iPhone is making you ugly,’ Dr Emma Bartlett explains to The Debrief. ‘Unfortunately, the idea that we’re ruining our looks taps into insecurities we all have and probably, cynically, is a good way of getting us to click on a story.

'While, of course, a great number of these studies are compelling from a medical point of view, it’s important to read through the headlines and think about how at risk you actually are from developing these symptoms. A lot of the more extreme facial symptoms reported need a lot more research to be confirmed as fact (smartphone use is a relatively new phenomenon) and they mostly occur after extreme use – we’re talking hours upon hours a day.

'It’s important to look through the reports and think about how at risk you think you are before throwing the iPhone out just yet.’

As a case in point, here’s are just some of the things ‘science’ says your iPhone is doing to your face.

Elongated earlobes


According to cosmetic surgeons who have dubbed the problem ‘mobe lobe,’ having a constant pressure on your ear when talking on your mobile phone can drag it down, making it all wrinkled and droopy. Which sounds attractive.

Dr Khan from the Harley Street Skin Clinic explains: 'Women who wear heavy earrings are particularly at risk because the weight pulls the ear downwards and stretches the skin. Factor in the weight of a mobile phone pressed tightly against the earlobe and it can cause even further damage leaving the earlobes stretched and saggy. Young men with piercings are also at risk, especially if they constantly hold their mobile between their shoulder and ear.'

Should you be worried?

Do you know anyone who is on their phone long enough to have constant pressure on their ear? Surely this situation can be remedied by simply using WhatsApp?

An unsightly face rash


A study published by Pediatrics shows that people who have certain types of allergies to metals could get an unsightly, red rash from using an iPhone. The most common rash caused by our phones is a bad reaction to the nickel in these devices, which is less than ideal really isn’t it?

Should you be worried?

Only if you’ve had these types of reactions before – not everyone is liable to getting rashes from their iPhones. It is only those people who are allergic to nickel and other metals similar in chemical composition to nickel who are at risk. If you’re worried, check with your doctor.

A shortened neck


Dean Nathanson, Managing Director of CACI, told The Daily Mail that he had noticed a correlation between the advance of technology and advent of ‘tech neck’. What that charmingly named ailment refers to is down to the fact that people are keeping their heads bent down and forward for hours and hours to look at their phones, which causes neck muscles to shorten, thereby increasing the gravitational pull on the skin. Basically, this makes the skin on your neck sag, giving you a double chin.

Should you be worried?

Well this is one we might actually buy into, but we’re enthused to hear that the effects of this can be counteracted by muscle lengthening exercise like Yoga and Pilates. 'Depending on the severity of the problem with your neck and back, certain exercises can go a long way in improving your condition,' Dr Emma Bartlett explains.

'Yoga and Pilates both lengthen your muscles, which increases flexibility and suppleness as well as improving your posture and core strength - all important for any back or neck problems. If you're worried, however, it might be an idea to check in with your doctor or osteopath.' Sign us up.

Aged skin


‘Frequent use of smartphones, tablets and laptops may bring out early signs of ageing like etched lines, wrinkles, double chins and loose skin in a person,’ another doctor told Elle magazine recently. Apparently all that squinting at small screens is making us old beyond our years, which isn’t ideal.

Should you be worried?

Again, we’re afraid to say this one sounds quite reasonable and anything that prematurely ages your skin is abviously less than ideal. However, medical professionals still maintain that one of the most important factors in premature ageing is UV rays from the sun, which is the main cause of skin ageing and can cause cancer, so wearing a high-factor sunscreen every day is still the most effective way of preventing aged skin. But if you're still really worried about your phone, it might be an idea to get one of those massive-screened smartphones favoured by IT professionals and 14 year-old male gamers.

Dry eyes


Staring at tiny screens is not only giving us wrinkles, it’s apparently drying our eyes at as well, which is in turn making us dizzy and disorientated.

Should you worry?

No. If your iPhone was going to make you dizzy and give you dry eyes you definitely would have noticed by now – probably when you got up from a particularly long texting session and fell headfirst into your colleague.

A big, fat face


Jacob Barkley, an associate professor of exercise science at Kent State University in Ohio did some research which showed the university aged-students now spend an average of almost five hours a day on their smartphones, sending hundred of texts a day. His concern was, as this is mostly sedentary, that young people aren’t getting sufficient exercise and as a result their waistbands – and jowls – are expanding at a rate of knots.

Should you be worried?

We’re going to say something that’s going to revolutionise your life now… walk AND text. Problem solved.

Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophiecullinane

Tags: Tech, Body worries