The health risks of smoking have been in the news for years and most people smokers have made their peace with the fact that cigarettes are hazardous to their health. But so is caffeine (at least that’s the way the argument goes). But what about the beauty ramifications?
Now we’ve turned a corner. We’re no longer talking about the invisible effects of smoking inside the body, but the visible effects of smoking on your face. And while some smokers are fine with the idea of black lungs, the suggestion that smoking can prematurely age the face is a line of discussion that they will entertain.
No one wants to look bad, but for smokers, it’s an uphill battle. According to Amanda Sandford, research manager for Action on Smoking and Health, states that, “…for smokers, middle-age starts in 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.”
And to make maters worse, the aging effects of smoking are often more noticeable in women than in men. It’s not news that smoking affects the skin. In fact, the phenomenon known as “smoker’s face” was first identified more than 40 years ago – in 1965.
Since that initial study, it has been estimated by researchers that the effects of smoking add between 10 and 20 years to your appearance. So if you’re 35 and smoking, you could look like you’re 55 – and who wants to rush the hand of time?
Smoking speeds up skin damage in several key ways:
– It causes the formation of “free radicals” in your body. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage your very DNA and cause your cells to behave erratically.
– It restricts the blood flow through your capillaries, thereby starving your skin of precious nutrients.
– It causes your body to break down the supply of collagen to your skin. Collagen is an important part of maintaining your skin’ elasticity. And while it does decrease with age, smoking accelerates that process.
– It reduces your supply of vitamin A and prevents your body from efficiently absorbing vitamin C – both key ingredients in protecting your skin from damage.
– Once airborne, it has an overall drying effect on the skin.
– It causes deeply wrinkled skin around the eyes and mouth from continual puckering from drawing on a cigarette and squinting in reaction to the cigarette smoke.
What does a smoker’s skin look like over time? The beauty effects of long-term exposure to tobacco smoke are:
– A loss of glow and vitality – your skin starts to look dull
– Discoloration – the smoke can actually stain your skin
– Normal wrinkles will be deeper and more pronounced – in fact, according to one study, you’re 3 times as likely to appear wrinkled if you smoke.
– Loss of tone and elasticity in your skin. Similar to the damage caused by the sun, smoking breaks down the collagen that helps keep your skin taut and resilient.
So if you smoke, you may be setting yourself up for early aging. Add that to the well-documented health risks and it might be in your best interest to skip that next cigarette. Your face will thank you.