Smoking is considered one of the most harmful things one can do to their body and by extension, our skin. It’s not unsurprising then the millions of warning labels that follow a smoking packet or an ad. We all know the hazardous effects it has on our health like cancer, asthma, and other lung diseases. But what about our face? How does smoking affect our facial tissues and does it cause premature aging? Let’s find out.
How Cigarettes Cause A Change In Our Body?
Cigarettes contain toxins like nicotine which can cause blood vessels to narrow, reducing oxygen flow and nutrients to skin cells. It also triggers several molecular events that remodel or damage the elasticity of your skin. The heat and un-inhaled smoke around your face while smoking can also result in dryness and damage the surface of the skin. Furthermore, continuous squinting and lip pursing, an act frequently done by smokers, can be the cause of fine lines and wrinkles around your face.
What Can Smoking Do To Your Skin?
Cigarette smoking puts your overall skin health at risk and can be the cause of various skin conditions like skin cancer or premature aging. Here are some other effects of the same:
- Early Aging & Premature Wrinkles:
The toxins in cigarette smoke can altogether damage the fibers responsible for skin elasticity like collagen and elastin. Your skin might not remain supple so causes it to sag. These changes are more noticeable around the eyes, mouth, and lips and in between your eyebrows. Vertical wrinkles around the mouth can also be developed as a result of continued lip pursing for smoking.
It is also responsible for premature aging because the narrowed blood vessels caused due to smoking allow less oxygen to reach your skin. This means that there is an increase in the production of free radicals in your skin and lower levels of Vitamin A in the skin. Vitamin A or retinoids as we know it is known to fight signs of aging by neutralizing free radicals in the skin. So a diminished quantity of this element can provoke fine lines and wrinkles.
- Skin Pigmentation:
It is understood that nicotine from your cigarettes may accumulate in human tissues containing melanin and this retention may increase melanin synthesis. This could very well lead to dark spots on the face or hyperpigmentation. Additionally, the fact that your skin is lacking oxygen and other vital nutrients can make the skin look dull and affect your naturally radiant skin tone.
- Wound Healing:
Smoking is the cause of vascular constriction which impairs the body’s ability to circulate blood (thanks to narrow blood vessels) and slower the process of wound healing. So if you smoke regularly, the chances of your wounds even minor scrapes or cuts healing quicker may be quite high. This is also the reason most doctors have always recommended patients quit smoking before a big surgery to ensure faster incision healing.
- Other Diseases:
With smoking, other skin-related diseases like eczema, psoriasis, skin cancer, etc may be common. This is because nicotine present in cigarettes can act as an inflammatory agent triggering our skin reactions. It can also cause a condition known as “Spider Veins” wherein small blood vessels of the body can dilate in size causing damage to capillary walls. All of these diseases occur because the nicotine in cigarettes causes our skin cells to multiply in number at an unprecedented rate.
How Quitting Tobacco Can Improve Your Skin?
Managing symptoms with issues or ailments regarding smoking can be done quite easily. You simply need to control your urge for smoking and give your skin some time to breathe or ‘detoxify’ to restore its natural beauty. Here’s how it can do so-
- Quitting smoking plays a big role in making you look younger
Once you quit, you will notice a considerable difference in your skin’s tone for your inflamed blood vessels can go back to their normal state. Even your circulatory and heart rate will improve allowing your blood vessels to pump oxygen-laden blood properly to most parts of your skin and body. This will make your skin look healthier and better. In fact, smoking less frequently or quitting altogether is a great way to address your mental health and the effect stress or anxiety can have on your skin too.
- It can also increase your skin cell turnover.
As your skin begins to gradually heal itself, skin cell turnover will increase because there is such a massive flow of fresh, oxygenated blood to your system. This indirectly will help in reducing the wrinkles and help your sagging skin become more plump and normal. It will also accelerate your body’s capability to heal wounds and acne scars better.
- Get back your skin color with a dash of radiance
The increase in blood flow after quitting helps restore your skin's original color. It will make your complexion look less gray or pale. This is because the skin finally gets more nutrients from the oxygenated blood. Therefore, it is one of the most visible differences of quitting where your skin looks more healthy and radiant.
The more your smoke, the more likely it is that you age faster. This is why dermatologists all over the world have placed our health habits so high on the priority list of their dos and don’ts of maintaining good skin. The question is- can you quit? Because if you can, you are literally just one step away from a better, healthier lifestyle and of course, good looking, natural, and radiant skin.