Cigarettes and Your Skin...A Recipe for Premature Aging

With all the well-publicized reasons not to smoke, you hardly need another one. But if the threat of cancer, heart disease, and emphysema  aren't enough to make you pack it in, how about your youth? Just like too much sun exposure, smoking can make you look years older than you are. Wrinkles around your mouth and eyes from inhaling and squinting are just the beginning of the harm it brings to your skin. Cigarettes also interfere with your body's ability to:

Stay Hydrated

Since nicotine is a diuretic like alcohol and caffeine, it has dehydrating effects on your skin. Lack of moisture is one of the main reasons for premature aging.

Absorb Nutrients

Smoking reduces Vitamin A in your body and interferes with your ability to absorb Vitamin C. It also stops your capillaries from carrying oxygen and essential nutrients for skin repair, restoration, and regeneration to your skin's surface.

Heal at a Normal Rate

Because cigarettes slow down your natural healing process, your skin doesn't repair itself as quickly. Ironically, you could even take longer than a non-smoker to heal from an anti-aging treatment such as skin resurfacing.  

Produce Collagen & Elastin

Smoking interferes with getting these vital fibers to your skin's surface.

Fight Viral Infections

Smokers find it harder than non-smokers to ward off skin infections that can cause warts, rashes, and other unsightly problems.

Avoid Free Radicals

A single puff sends free radicals (which can injure your DNA) throughout your body. Ultimately, it can cause your skin to behave abnormally and age prematurely.

In 1985, the term "smoker's face" was officially added to the medical dictionary. The description of this includes facial lines and wrinkles, a leathery or worn appearance, grey skin tone, and/or a slightly orange/purple/red complexion. Sounds lovely, right? And the wages of smoking don't only show up on your face. Studies have shown that it can increase wrinkles on other parts of the body, too. Plus, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, smoking increases your risk of developing skin cancer.

So, what if you've smoked for 20 years? What can you do now? The simple answer: Quit.  According to the Mayo Clinic, smoking for 10 or more years will permanently damage your skin, but some of this damage may be reversible. Stamp out the habit and start a skincare routine that involves careful cleaning and moisturizing. Your skin—and the rest of your body—will thank you.




American Academy of Dermatology

Mayo Clinic