And your overall health.
Society is becoming more and more aware of the dangers of artificial chemicals and toxins on our skin (think sulphates, parabens, etc.), and many of us are making the move to more natural, healthier alternatives in our skincare regime, but of equal importance is the toxins that we put into our bodies on a daily basis. No amount of external skincare products can undo the damage of poor lifestyle choices, and at the top of this list is smoking.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you're already aware that smoking causes lung cancer, heart disease, and various other terrible diseases. But are you aware of the significant toll this unhealthy habit is taking on your skin?
People invest so much time and money into keeping their skin looking clear and healthy, and yet many still choose to smoke! Your skin takes a massive beating every time you take a drag of a cigarette or suck on a vape. In fact, smoking does so many bad things to your skin, it’s hard to know where to start.
A comparative analysis of identical twins in the Journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery really drives home the negative impact of smoking on facial skin and features. The study found that “Twins who smoked compared with their non-smoking counterparts had worse scores for upper eyelid skin redundancy, lower lid bags, malar bags, nasolabial folds, upper lip wrinkles, lower lip vermillion wrinkles, and jowls.”.
Effectively, long-term smoking contributes to premature ageing of all your cells and causes sallow skin tone, bags under the eyes, skin discolouration and slows down the healing process – and all this is hugely noticeable on your face!
Smoking just one cigarette restricts blood flow, depriving skin of the oxygen and nutrients (like Vitamin A) that it needs to thrive and heal. The more you smoke, the harder it is for your skin to recover from a pimple, a cut, or a bruise.
But wait, there's more.
Just one single, solitary puff disperses thousands of free radicals throughout your body. These trigger the destruction of collagen and elastin, the fibres that give skin its elasticity and strength.
When these fibres are compromised, your skin will wrinkle and sag, and it's not just your face that's affected - your inner arms, neck, throat, and décolleté all take a hit. Most noticeable though are the deeply etched crow’s feet, bags under the eyes and lines around the lips.
If you smoke you can kiss your youthful, luscious lips goodbye. Dean Nathanson, MD of CACI International, explains: 'The lines are due to the repetitive pursing of the lips and can cause permanent creases.”
The thousands of toxins in cigarettes weaken the muscles around the mouth, which encourage grooves to appear on the epidermis. Once these lines are present, they can only be fully removed with surgery.
Added to this litany of wrinkles and rapidly aging skin, there's the sallow, sickly complexion that's common among smokers. This results from skin being continually deprived of oxygen and from nicotine restricting blood vessels and diminishing nutrient and blood flow, so that you start to take on a pale, splotchy look instead of the healthy glow we all want.
Another frightening component of how smoking affects skin is the fact that increases the chance of developing squamous cell skin carcinoma (skin cancer), and makes you more likely to get cataracts in your eyes (which can lead to serious vision problems).
According to Dr Moore, a dermatologist from Houston, "There's some damage that really can't be undone.". The longer you smoke, the longer it takes for your skin to recover and the more profound the damage. Once you quit smoking, it takes about 20 to 30 days for your red blood cell count to increase. After that, you can start seeing a difference in the quality and texture of your skin.
If you make the decision to stop smoking, you are doing something fantastic for your skin, as well as your overall health, and you will see improvements.