Most of us are no strangers to the virtual world. But, this past year, the pandemic has had us glued to our screens more than usual.
We’re also attempting to stay connected with loved ones via video calls.
All that staring into a square or rectangle of light can take a toll, contributing to eye fatigue, sleep issues, headaches, and more.
But don’t worry — that doesn’t mean you need to completely pivot away from virtual interaction. We’ve got you covered with the best products to help you recover from looking deep into your computer’s soul.
There are lots of products that claim to help with screen fatigue. To select the highest quality products, we used the following criteria:
- Scientific reviews. We consulted peer-reviewed research to help us choose the products to combat the effects of prolonged screen use.
- Customer reviews. When possible, we picked products with rave reviews.
- Company reputation. We selected products from reliable companies with good reputations.
- Pricing. Below, you’ll find products in a range of price points to fit various budgets.
- $ = under $30
- $$ = $30–$60
- $$$ = over $60
Physical effects, like dry eyes, can happen because focusing on a screen means you’re likely blinking less during the day.
Additionally, looking at a screen for long periods can cause headaches because of the strain it puts on your eyes.
Beat eye strain and fatigue with the help of these products.
- Price: $
- What it’s for: Preventing and reducing dark circles under eyes
- Pros: Hydrating formula also helps reduce the appearance of fine lines
- Cons: Slow acting and won’t help with dark eye circles that are genetic
Not getting enough sleep? Maybe it’s because you’re scrolling Twitter past midnight?
That can lead to puffy eyes, casting shadows that look like dark circles. Eye strain can also increase the size of blood vessels around your eyes and make it look like you have dark patches.
Fatigue can also cause pallor, which may accentuate existing dark circles.
Wake Eye Gel is designed to hydrate and nourish skin to help support aging and prevent bags under the eyes.
The formula contains cucumber extract to help limit puffiness that can contribute to the appearance of dark eye circles.
Reviewers say the gel is refreshing and effective against under-eye bags.
- Price: $
- What it’s for: Helping with dry, irritated eyes
- Pros: Snug, comfortable fit, and easy to use
- Cons: Doesn’t always heat uniformly
Looking at a screen usually means blinking less, which can result in dry eyes. Applying a warm compress may help increase tear production and lessen irritation.
The Bruder Moist Heat Eye Compress is backed by a clinical trial that found daily use helped reduce blocked oil glands in participants’ eyes. Participants with contact lens-related dryness also reported being able to wear their contacts comfortably for longer.
The compress stays warm for up to 15 minutes. A quick zap in the microwave, and it delivers warm, moist heat to help soothe dry, irritated eyes.
Before applying the compress to your eyes, be sure to test the temperature to avoid injury or irritation from excessive heat.
Reviewers say the compress is easy to use and helps immensely with dry eyes.
You might already know that blue light from devices, like laptops, computers, phones, and tablets, can impact sleep quality. The light can make it harder for you to fall asleep and get refreshing Zzz’s.
But you might not realize that skin issues can also crop up after long periods of exposure to blue light from screens.
Keep your skin looking healthy and vibrant with these skin care products designed to repair or block the effects of blue light.
- Price: $$
- What it’s for: Helping repair the effects of prolonged exposure to blue light
- Pros: Absorbs quickly and very hydrating
- Cons: Expensive
The Rest+Reset overnight mask from Goodhabit aims to help reverse the negative effects of blue light on the skin. The mask-moisturizer hybrid contains ingredients to help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, like niacinamide and hyaluronic acid.
Reviewers rave about the hydrating qualities of this overnight mask and love that it’s lightweight and non-greasy.
You only need a thin layer. So, while it’s costly, the small bottle should last awhile — longer if you have oily skin and only use it weekly.
- Price: $$
- What it’s for: Protecting skin from sunlight and blue light
- Pros: Lightweight and great for layering under makeup
- Cons: Can feel sticky and may leave a white cast
It’s best to wear sunscreen to protect your skin from prolonged exposure to UV rays — even if you’re stuck inside all day. If your workspace is right in front of a window, you might be getting more exposure to sunlight than you think.
This sunscreen from COOLA uses zinc oxide to protect your skin from both UV rays and blue light.
The certified organic mineral formula is less likely to irritate the skin, so it’s suitable for people with sensitive skin. It’s also oil-free and non-comedogenic.
Reviewers love the lightweight, airy feel of this sunscreen. Still, they note that, like most mineral sunscreens, it does leave a smidge of white residue.
People with sensitive, acne-prone skin say they had fewer reactions to the COOLA sunscreen than other brands. Some people with oily skin say it doesn’t work for them.
- Price: $$
- What it’s for: Hydrating and protecting the skin against effects of blue light
- Pros: Refreshing, hydrating formula
- Cons: No sun protection
This hydrating spray provides a refreshing blast of moisture that fights the effects of blue light on your skin. A quick spray might also help you stay alert if you’re starting to lose steam while working from home.
Research suggests that marine algae — like the red algae found in this product — has photoprotective effects, such as absorbing UV light and protecting the skin against signs of aging.
Remember: This is not an SPF product. You’ll still need to wear sunscreen if you’re exposing your skin to UV rays.
Reviewers say the spray helps improve their skin’s texture and is very hydrating. But, even if you don’t notice any immediate restorative effects, the blast of spray delivers plenty of moisture and an instant pick-me-up.
- Price: $
- What it’s for: Hydrating and reversing effects of blue light on skin
- Pros: Hydrating and suitable for all skin types
- Cons: Scent bothers some people
Here’s another spray for combatting the effects of blue light. The refreshing mist hydrates and helps reduce the appearance of fine lines.
It contains sunflower and marigold extract, along with vitamins to nourish the skin. 2018 research suggests that marigold extract has soothing properties, including antioxidant effects.
Reviewers say the mist cools the skin and doesn’t leave an oily residue. One customer says they feel like their skin was brighter than usual at the end of their workday after using the hydrating product. A few reviewers also mention not liking the scent.
Do you ever end your day utterly exhausted and wonder how you feel so spent even though you barely moved a muscle?
It’s probably in part because you’re living through a pandemic, which has its own unique difficulties.
Take a moment to step away from the screen and de-stress with these helpful products.
- Price: $$
- What it’s for: Soaking in a relaxing bath
- Pros: Skin-soothing formula
- Cons: Bath bombs are pretty small
Saha Self-Care is a cannabidiol (CBD) brand that offers a variety of CBD products to help you practice self-care. We recommend their bath bombs for times when you need to recharge after a long day of scrolling, typing, and reading emails.
You can find the certificate of analysis (COA) linked on the product page, and find more about how we rate CBD products here.
- Price: $$–$$$
- What it’s for: Soothing tired, achy muscles
- Pros: Easy-to-apply roll-on dispenser
- Cons: Not for people who prefer a warming sensation
If you’re sitting at a computer all day, you might end up with aches and pains from hunching over. Or maybe you’ve discovered that your increased keyboard use has affected the joints in your fingers and wrists.
This roll-on CBD product is from Unoia, a CBD brand focused on mental health, self-care, and mindfulness.
The roll-on is available in two potencies: 300 or 1,000 mg. We recommend going with the 300 mg potency since it comes with a comprehensive COA, which you can find here.
Unoia’s roll-on contains broad-spectrum CBD and produces a cooling sensation thanks to the added camphor. Reviewers say it absorbs quickly and provides effective pain relief.
- Price: $
- What it’s for: Stretching out your sore body after a day of sitting
- Pros: Comes with a carrier sling and non-slip design
- Cons: Has a chemical smell
This Gaiam yoga mat is 1/4-inch thick with a sticky texture made to help you hold tricky balancing postures.
It’s available in multiple colors and features a non-toxic construction free of polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Roll it up with the included travel strap, and you’re ready to go once in-person classes start up again.
Reviewers like the thick design and affordable price. However, some customers cite durability concerns.
While some people swear by blue light filtering glasses for preventing screen-related headaches, the American Academy of Ophthalmologists (AAO) doesn’t currently suggest them. The evidence on their effectiveness isn’t quite there yet.
Instead, the AAO recommends:
- not sitting right up against your screen (Position it about 25 inches away from you.)
- taking frequent breaks to help prevent eye strain
- using over-the-counter eye drops to help with dry eyes
- switching between contact lenses and glasses to avoid irritation
- preventing screen glare by adjusting the lighting in your room or office
That said, here are a couple products that might be worth investing in to upgrade your desk space.
- Price: $$
- What it’s for: Positioning your laptop at a comfortable height and angle
- Pros: Highly adjustable
- Cons: Only fits laptops up to 15.6 inches
This stand can help you set up your laptop, so it’s the right distance away from you. It also has 9 angle settings, so you can tilt it just right for a sitting or standing desk.
Many reviewers comment on the sturdiness of the stand, suggesting it’s built to last. Some also note that it’s fairly large, so it might not work if you have a narrow workspace.
- Price: $
- What it’s for: Reducing screen glare on your laptop
- Pros: Also protects against scratches
- Cons: Won’t fit all laptop screens
If adjusting the lighting in your work area isn’t possible, a screen protector, like this one, might do the trick. It’s designed to reduce glare from sunlight while still being almost totally transparent.
Reviewers seem mostly happy with this product, though some mention it can be tough to install perfectly — you might end up with some air bubbles underneath.
It’s virtually impossible to avoid all digital devices. Thankfully, most of the effects of prolonged screen use aren’t lasting. Your eyes, for example, re-adjust after a long day of pouring over digital documents.
That said, if you’re experiencing headaches and eye irritation that don’t seem to go away after you’ve taken a break, it may be worth talking with a healthcare professional.
Steph Coelho is a freelance writer with chronic migraine who has a particular interest in health and wellness. When she’s not click-clacking away on her keyboard, she’s probably nose-deep in a good book.