[Images: Getty Images]

In today’s ever-connected culture, it’s becoming clear that time spent on smartphones, tablets and other digital devices can wreak havoc on the mind and body. Everyone knows that hunching over a screen can put undue pressure on the neck and shoulders, resulting in muscle tension and poor posture. But screen time also takes a toll on skin, as increased exposure to blue light—also known as high-energy visible (HEV) light—prompts the release of free radicals. “Most of us spend multiple hours a day in front of our screens,” says Neal Kitchen, PhD, chief operating officer of HydroPeptide. “This constant exposure to artificial light has been shown to accelerate aging primarily through free radical damage, leading to the appearance of dull skin, inflammation, discoloration and even the potential loss of collagen.”

Luckily, spa products and services that counteract the effects of tech overload have emerged to help quell these conditions: From facials packed with protective ingredients, to massages that pinpoint key areas of discomfort, digital detoxification is giving techies permission to put down their devices and tune into their bodies’ needs.

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For instance, HydroPeptide has formulated Somnifera Root Mist, a finishing product containing three key ingredients for fighting screen-related skin damage: antioxidant and anti-inflammatory somnifera root extract protects cells from artificial light; Pollustop, a polysaccharide, creates a non-occlusive barrier to defend skin from pollution; and HydrO18 Activated Water hydrates and boosts water retention.

Because skin types range from dry to oily—and everything in between—treatments that aim to undo artificial light damage can vary. At BABOR Beauty Spa Vancouver in British Columbia, the Skin Solution Facial (50-80 min./$78-$112) can be customized for different concerns and features the brand’s SKINOVAGE collection containing Blue Light Protect— an ingredient made of cocoa peptides, sugar and antioxidant polyphenols—which helps restore moisture and even out tone. “Clients love this treatment because it’s truly a deep cleansing that’s also super gentle,” says owner Maryam Namvar. “They leave intensely hydrated and glowing, plus they can add products used in the service to their at-home regimens to continue protecting their skin from blue light.”

[Shungite can be used during massage to provide antioxidant benefits that heal the body]

When it comes to body aches, the most common complaints linked to extensive usage of digital devices include discomfort and deep pain in the neck, shoulders and hands, says Kim Sebacher, master therapist and massage department educator for The Face and Body Spa and
Salon in Brentwood, Missouri. Such overextended muscles benefit most from bodywork, and Sebacher’s clients often opt for the TechnoRelief
Massage (60 min./from $94), in which therapists apply pressure to affected areas—commonly the neck and shoulders—to loosen tight muscles and promote blood flow. Educating spa-goers about body positions is an important component of the treatment; some simple suggestions include consciously relaxing their shoulders, and keeping their elbows at the waist. Once clients know why and how the discomfort occurs, they’ll be better able to get relief, notes Sebacher.

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Practicing mindfulness is also part of the device-detox experience at The Spa at Mandarin Oriental in Boston, where guests are encouraged to surrender their phones upon entering the space. A Himalayan Singing Bowl treatment (50 min./$178-$200) uses sound therapy to quiet the mind and create a deeper connection to one’s self, and complements other physical services. The Digital Wellness Escape (80 in./$200-$230) targets digitally strained muscles by massaging key areas including the upper back, shoulders, neck, head, face, feet, arms and hands. Therapists then use Shungite, a natural stone made of fullerenes that provides antioxidant benefits to help heal the body. “This service relieves tension using a combination of pressure points and Swedish massage techniques,” says spa manager Shan Toth. “The scalp massage in particular increases circulation and refreshes blood flow, which revitalizes the entire body and deeply relaxes the mind.”

–by Pamela Brill


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