National No Smoking Day encourages smokers to quit or cut down on their smoking habit. Whilst it’s challenging and stressful, for many people, this national day could be the extra push of motivation they’ve been looking for to give up smoking for good, improve their overall health and improve their skin health.
The majority of people who smoke are all too familiar with the major health reasons for giving up their bad habit. Scientific research has proven that smoking can directly lead to serious health problems such as heart disease and lung cancer.
And a close look in the mirror can often be an additional wake-up call as smoking has a significant and negative impact on our skin, causing sagging, wrinkling skin and an uneven skin tone as well as exacerbating acne and spots.
Does smoking age skin?
Clearly smoking is a habit that many find hard to kick and perhaps it just seems to many smokers that all of these health problems are too far away to worry about, or that they happen to someone else. People are great at deluding themselves into thinking life will never catch up with them – and this can especially be the case with teenage smokers.
One of the main things that finally cause people to stop smoking is the havoc smoking can play on their skin. Often the effects of smoking are noticeable within a few short weeks of picking up your first cigarette.
The nicotine in cigarettes causes the blood vessels in the outermost layers of your skin to narrow. This impairs blood flow to your skin and with this reduced blood flow your skin doesn’t get as much oxygen, nutrients and antioxidants such as vitamin A that are needed to maintain healthy skin and prevent acne.
This is a particular concern for younger smokers who are already dealing with acne breakouts but are yet to contemplate the effects of smoking as they age such as puckering around the lips, wrinkles around the eyes and an overall pallid and uneven skin tone.
The long term effects of tobacco smoke include premature ageing, damage to your heart and lungs and even an increase in likelihood to develop skin cancer.
The good news is that as soon as you stop smoking, your body very quickly begins to function more effectively. Within as little as six weeks your skin will begin to show visible improvement as it benefits from increased oxygen and antioxidant levels.
What’s the link between smoking and acne?
There are numerous studies on the negative effect smoking has on acne, skin inflammation and premature signs of ageing.
A study into the association between smoking habits and acne published in the Epidemiology Biostatistics and Public Health Journal found that there are some cases where acne doesn’t actually seem to be linked to smoking. But, you guessed it, these cases are rare.
On the whole, those who smoke are more likely to have acne – even if it’s just a mild form of acne. They have more pimples, spots and blemishes than non-smokers. Interestingly, the study found that it’s often male smokers who suffer the effects of acne the most – making stopping smoking one of our most important clear skin tips.
Does smoking cause wrinkles?
Maybe acne-prone youngsters have a good reason to quit smoking now. But what about the older age group? The association between wrinkles and smoking isn’t a myth, scientists have been studying this link for years because the evidence is clearly visible.
Smoking can cause wrinkles because of the way your face and mouth ‘scrunches up’ while you’re smoking. This causes those fine lines around your lips and the edges of your mouth to become deeper and more defined. This damage is irreversible and the only way to prevent further skin damage is to stop smoking now.
There are many negative skin issues associated with smoking that might not be obvious until it’s too late. In Maral Rahvar’s chapter on Smoking and Skin Aging in the Handbook of Cosmetic Science, there’s a fascinating scientific breakdown into why cigarette smoke so negatively affects your skin health on a deeper level.
And, surprise, it’s all because of the chemicals within the cigarettes. Nicotine has been proven to decrease blood flow, slow down wound healing and decrease levels of the very ingredients your skin needs to heal itself and stay looking young, such as collagen production.
One rather bleak but thought-provoking quote from the book states: “Smoking 20 cigarettes per day is equivalent in effect to almost 10 years of chronological ageing.” What a statistic to consider when you next look in the mirror.
Remember that the health benefits of stopping smoking are very real, and particularly so with regards to your skin health.
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