Smoking, although a bad habit, is one of the most difficult habits to get out of. Everyone knows how detrimental smoking is for health and, unfortunately, this nasty habit has claimed many lives in the world, with some heavy smokers losing their lives to cancer as young as 20.
However, although we know about the many health issues that can arise due to the toxic substances in cigarettes, there is not that much information on how much smoking can really affect your skin.
Since I am a skincare professional, I have been lucky to be introduced to several lessons that go in-depth on how detrimental smoking can be for the skin.
So in this article, I would like to motivate my readers to put this habit behind them once and for all by explaining how quitting smoking helps the skin.
So, let’s start by answering some of the most commonly asked questions online.
Does Smoking Really Age You?
Yes! Smoking can really age you and this is something that always shows on the skin, first. There are many people that are heavy smokers and look much older than their actual age.
Because, to date, there are over 7,000 chemical compounds identified in cigarette smoke, including about 250 poisonous and almost 70 carcinogenic chemicals like carbon monoxide, arsenic, hydrogen cyanide, and benzene (they don’t even sound pretty, don’t they?).
Now, many of these chemicals have the ability to negatively impact collagen and elastin, which are the connective fibers that are responsible for giving your skin strength, support, and elasticity.
So, the not-so-optimal result to this is sagging skin, lax blood levels, prominent wrinkles, and fine lines, as well as skin discoloration and uneven patches.
Moreover, wrinkles known as “smoker’s lines” start appearing around the mouth and this comes from pursing the lips to draw on a cigarette over and over again.
Crow’s feet are a common type of wrinkles that develops at the outer edges of the eyes. For smokers, this damage usually starts much earlier than it does for non-smokers, who get crow’s feet as they age.
This is because smokers tend to squint often to prevent cigarette smoke from getting into the eyes.
Additionally, lines on the face are one result, however, since smokers are more at risk of developing wrinkles at a younger age, this can also manifest itself from the neck down, including sagging and wrinkly skin on the inner arms, and breasts.
Does Smoking Darken Your Skin?
Yes, smoking will darken your skin because smoking chronically deprives the skin of oxygen and nutrients. So, while some smokers may appear pale or have that yellow-ish, somewhat sickly skin tone, others may develop uneven coloring and dark patches or areas.
While this can also happen if you have recently been ill or you have a poor diet or a poor skincare routine, it can begin happening at a very young age with smokers.
So, even if you are in your early 20s, thinking that you are still too young to develop this kind of patchiness and uneven complexion is completely wrong, because it’s not about your age, it’s about how tobacco with all its harmful chemicals affects your skin.
Does Skin Improve After Quitting Smoking?
Your skin will surely improve after quitting smoking and here are some of the changes you will notice on your skin after as little as one week after quitting smoking:
Carbon monoxide that is released from cigarettes is the main factor that deprives the skin of oxygen and nutrients.
While healthy blood supply is recognizable by rosy cheeks and overall nice complexion, the same cannot be said for long-time smokers whose complexion takes a grey-ish, sickly appearance.
After as little as one week after quitting smoking, you will surely notice a brighter complexion as the body is quick to recover once you stop supplying it with poison.
Less prominent dark circles under the eyes
This is due to the fact that smoking affects blood flow and constricts blood vessels, even causing them to become blocked in some severe cases of heavy smoking.
Therefore, since the skin under the eyes is known for being thin and super delicate, these blood vessels are more prominent from underneath, so quitting smoking will really improve your dark circles under the eyes.
Less prominent lines and wrinkles
As we already pointed out before, some toxins present in tobacco can have a detrimental effect on the collagen and elastin fibers in the body. By destroying these two, your skin will not have the strength to keep it in place and it will eventually become saggy and wrinkly.
By ditching cigarettes, you will not be exposing yourself to this potential danger and you will also not constantly purse the lips or squint as to prevent smoke from going into your eyes.
Therefore, all this combined will result in less prominent lines and wrinkles as your skin and body recover from cigarettes.
Improvement in dryness
By impairing overall blood flow and narrowing the blood vessels, smoking can also lead to dull and dry skin. Smokers often tend to have drier or more dehydrated skin and they are also at greater risk of developing psoriasis.
Psoriasis is a chronic condition that causes thick, scaly patches on the skin, usually on the knees, elbows, scalp, hands, feet, and back.
While this condition can be maintained through various treatments, it should be known that there isn’t a cure or remedy that will completely get rid of it.
So, by ditching cigarettes, you will surely enjoy the newly acquired skin suppleness that will make your skin appear more glowy, hydrated, and healthy.
Improvement in acne
While smoking is not the main guilty factor behind full-blown, inflammatory acne, it has its own and rather complicated way of triggering several reactions that can lead to non-inflammatory acne such as open comedones (blackheads).
Smoking is notoriously known for destroying the antioxidants in our body.
It also narrows the small blood vessels which transport macronutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, and micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals that work together to maintain the barrier functions of the skin.
This means that the nutrient and oxygen supply to the skin reduces.
The skin then becomes drained of nutrients and dehydrated, which makes it challenging to fight against harmful pathogens.
This can then lead to the overproduction of sebum by the sebaceous glands in order to lubricate our skin and replenish the lack of moisture as well as maintain the barrier function.
The excess sebum can then become trapped inside the pore and harden due to exposure on air through a process called oxidation and make a small sebaceous plug which is essentially called comedone (or a blackhead).
These can occur anywhere on the body but they tend to be most apparent on the face because this is the most exposed area.
Also, as an esthetician, I do blackheads extraction with every facial treatment I provide for my clients, and I have noticed that smokers tend to have blackheads that smell much worse than non-smokers.
This is just a personal observation that almost always gives a smoker away.
How Long After Smoking Does Skin Improve?
The skin can slightly improve after as little as one week after quitting smoking, which tells us that skin damage caused by smoking is reversible, within reason.
The true benefits of quitting cigarettes will show on your skin after as little as 6-8 weeks, and you will surely be glad you made that decision for you.
Your skin will be visibly benefiting from increased oxygen and antioxidant levels, however, this alone isn’t enough, and you still need to adopt a strict skincare regimen that will allow your skin to heal and become a healthy and glowy dumpling.
I created this article in order to give my readers the motivation to ditch this unhealthy habit by explaining how quitting smoking helps the skin.
Smoking is a nasty habit, however, unfortunately, it’s also one of the most difficult habits to get out of. But, just because it’s difficult, it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible.
There are a plethora of articles, videos, guides, and even courses you could dedicate yourself to reading, watching, and following, in order to help yourself make better choices for your overall health.
I hope this article helped you!
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Thanks for stopping by! My name is Simone and I am a certified skin specialist. I created this website to teach my readers how to take great care of their skin and I also like to occasionally share my honest opinions on skincare products I’ve tried. You can learn more about me here.