Smoking cigarettes ages skin faster than anything else apart from sun damage.
There’s no gentle way of saying this. If you smoke cigarettes you need to stop.
Aside from the many health issues associated with smoking – if you care at all about wrinkles and you want to look younger for longer – then smoking is out.
One million new smokers light up each year in the US alone – many of them young women who may later come to regret what smoking does to their looks.
Smoking worse for women
As far as the effects of smoking on skin aging and health – it’s much worse for women. That’s official – and it’s supported by many years of research by reputable medical bodies.
The nicotine in cigarettes is more addictive for women and women have much more difficulty quitting smoking than men as a result.
Women who smoke have twice the additional risk of heart attacks, strokes and lung cancer than men who smoke.
Lung cancer kills three times the number of American women than breast cancer – currently around 70,000 per year.
Link to early menopause
Smoking is also linked to early onset of the menopause in women. Most devastating of all from a looks point of view – the aging effects of smoking on the skin are worse for women who are much more likely to develop “smoker’s face” than male smokers. For women smoking and aging are inextricably linked.
In 2001 the special risks of smoking for women were recognized by the US Surgeon General in a report warning women of the dangers from smoking cigarettes. Similar statements were made by European government bodies and other world authorities.
Smoking accelerates skin aging
Even if you dismiss the health risks the effect of smoking on skin may give you some pause for thought. It is worth taking time to consider how smoking cigarettes will damage your skin and accelerate skin aging.
As Amanda Sandford from Action on Smoking Health has commented: “For smokers, middle age starts in the early 30’s as the tell tale wrinkles around the mouth and eyes begin to appear. Young female smokers are likely to be wasting their money on anti aging face creams if they continue to smoke.”
In recent years much research has focused on this area and it’s now broadly accepted that smokers skin is damaged by smoking making smokers look much older than non-smokers.
The effects of smoking on skin aging have been recognized for a long time. A 1965 study first identified what came to be known as ‘smoker’s face’ – gray, pale and wrinkled skin.
Smoking statistics will clearly tell you the risk of death and disease from your smoking habit. If that’s not sufficiently frightening – this is what you might expect your skin to look like if you continue to smoke:
- dull appearance to the skin – loss of skin glow and vitality
- discolored skin (an ashy look on white skins)
- deeper wrinkles around the mouth and eyes
- loss of tone and elasticity more than with the normal aging process
The Chief Medical Officer of the UK recently highlighted the link between smoking and skin damage saying that smoking adds between 10-20 years to your natural age.
Professor Young, Head of Dermatology at Guys School of Medecine in London says that smokers face makes it easy to identify someone who smokes: “Smoking exerts such a noticeable effect on the skin that it’s often possible to detect whether or not a person is a smoker simply by looking at his or her face. Smokers have more wrinkles and their skin tends to have a greyish pallor compared to non-smokers.”
And its not just smokers skin that ages quicker – research in recent years has proved conclusively that passive smoking is damaging to your skin and to your health. Unfair though it seems – whether you smoke or just breathe in other people’s smoke – your skin will suffer the same symptoms of smoker’s face.
Skin ages all over the body
A 2007 study found that smoking is associated with increased wrinkling and skin damage on many parts of the body – not just the face. Inner arms, neck and decollete are likely to show wrinkling and sagging as a result of accelerated skin aging from smoking.
How does smoking age skin?
Smoking speeds up skin aging in a number of ways. It all starts with the free radicals formed in your body by the exposure to cigarette smoke.
Free radicals are highly unstable and powerful molecules that can cause disease and damage to cell DNA. The cells of your body start behaving erratically producing a range of responses that make your skin age faster.
Here’s a summary of the main ways in which smoking damages skin health:
- smoking restricts blood flow through the capillaries (tiny veins near the skins surface) preventing oxygen and nutrients getting to the skin
- smoking increases production of an enzyme which breaks down the supply of collagen to the skin’s structure. Collagen supply is vital to the skin’s elasticity. It decreases with age but smoking cigarettes accelerates this process.
- smoking reduces the body’s store of vitamin A which provides protection from skin damage
- smoking gets in the way of absorption of vitamin C – a vital antioxidant for skin protection and health
- smokers continual puckering from drawing on a cigarette and squinting in reaction to the cigarette smoke results in deeply wrinkled skin around the eyes and mouth – classic signs of ‘smoker’s face’
Can I reverse the damage from smoking?
A key question from most smokers is – if I stop smoking can I reverse the skin damage. The simple answer is that you won’t be able to completely reverse the damage that smoking has done.
But – with a good diet, skin supplements and great anti aging skin care you can do a lot to get your youthful skin back. What you will do if you quit smoking is stop the damage getting any worse. Why wait and then stop smoking later when even more damage has been done to your skin?
When you look at your skin remember that some damage won’t appear until ten to twenty years after you began to smoke. So if you haven’t been smoking that long and you don’t see much damage yet – don’t assume it won’t happen.
The important thing for your skin and your looks is to stop inflicting continued damage on yourself. If you quit smoking now you will stop your skin aging any faster than it normally would. And with proper anti aging skin care and nutrition your skin will look much better into the future than it will do if you carry on as a smoker.
And now you know all about the dangers of cigarette smoke for your skin – find out why tanning is worse than smoking for skin.