Smoking and Skin Aging
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.
Whilst the number of cigarette smokers is dropping world-wide, there are still one million new smokers lighting up each year in the US alone – many of them young women who may later come to regret the irreversible effects on their looks.
“For smokers, middle-age starts in the their 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.”
Smoking is not an equal opportunity addiction. That’s official – and it’s supported by many years of research by reputable medical bodies.
You may not be aware that:
- The nicotine in cigarettes is more addictive for women and women have much more difficulty quitting smoking than men.
- 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.
- Smoking is linked to early menopause in women.
- The aging effect of smoking on the skin is worse for women who are more likely to develop “smoker’s face” than male smokers.
In 2001 the special risks of smoking for women were recognized by the US Surgeon General in a special report warning women of the dangers from smoking cigarettes. Similar statements were made by European government bodies and other world authorities.
Even if you dismiss the health risks for whatever reason – take time to consider how smoking cigarettes will damage your skin and accelerate the aging process. Do you really want this to happen to you?
Skin Aging and the Smoker’s Face
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 “smokers face” – gray, pale and wrinkled skin.
In recent years much research has focused on this area and it’s now broadly accepted that the skin of smokers is damaged by smoking making them look older than non-smokers.
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.
How Does Smoking Speed Up Skin Damage?
It all starts with the ‘free radicals’ formed in your body by the exposure to tobacco 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.
The most serious damage to skin is caused by:
- Restricted blood flow through the capilliaries (tiny veins near the skins surface) preventing oxygen and nutrients getting to the skin.
- Increased 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.
- Continual puckering from drawing on a cigarette and squinting in reaction to the cigarette smoke create deeply wrinkled skin around the eyes and mouth – classic signs of “smoker’s face.”
What Does a Smoker’s Skin Look Like Over Time?
Smoking statistics will clearly tell you the risk of death and disease from your smoking habit, but what about how your skin will look like if you continue to smoke?
This is what to expect of smoker’s skin overtime :
- 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.
Or you can simply listen to the words of a senior dermatologist – Professor Young of Guys School of Medicine in London was the leader of the team that demonstrated in 2001 how collagen loss was accelerated by smoking.
“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.”
Can Skin damage From Smoking Be Reversed?
There’s no doubt 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.
By quitting smoking you can stop the damage getting any worse. Why wait and then quit 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 if you carry on as a smoker.
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