Smoking is an unappealing habit. It leaves you with bad breath, yellow nails, and moreover is linked to a vast host of health conditions such as lung cancer and even depression. What you may not fully realize however is that smoking also leads to significant premature aging of the skin and causes wrinkles, furrows and thinning lips. There’s really no soft way of saying this – if you smoke cigarettes, you need to stop. Many scientists have also stated that smoking adds between 10 and 20 years to your natural age.
It is estimated that around 1 million people start smoking in the United States every year and virtually all will go on to regret this decision as they find out the effect this poisonous habit has on their health, bodies and skin. Some studies have established that smoking is actually worse for women as the nicotine is more addictive. Women who smoke are also twice as likely to have heart attacks, strokes and lung cancer than their male counterparts.
How Does Smoking Age the Skin
The effects of smoking on skin have been known for a long while. One study as early as 1965 identified what is now known as ‘smoker’s face’. What has become more apparent in recent years is exactly how smoking causes premature aging. There are numerous mechanisms by which smoking accelerates aging. It begins with the formation of free-radicals in the body when exposed to cigarette smoke. Free radicals are unstable molecules that cause disease and damage to cell DNA. Smoking also restricts blood flow to the minuscule veins in your skin known as capillaries preventing oxygen and vital nutrients from doing their job. All in all, this leads to a dull, grayish skin tone which has an obviously discolored look.
Additionally, smoking increases production of enzymes that break down collagen in the skin which is integral to maintaining its elasticity. Smoking for many years will also deplete stores of vitamins A and C, both of which are involved in skin protection and health and help to keep harsh UV rays at bay.
Finally, the actions involved in continually sucking on cigarettes and squinting from cigarette smoke causes deep lines to develop around the eyes and mouth. Smoking doesn’t just cause wrinkling on your face, it is also associated with damage and sagging on nearly all parts of the body including your inner arms and neck.
Reversing Skin Damage
Many smokers wonder if they can reverse the damage they have caused to themselves by smoking. Simply put, the best thing you can do to begin the reversal process is stop smoking – although you must realize you will never fully undo the damage that you’ve done. Healthy diets and supplements are great at maintaining skin health. You should also be aware that skin damage won’t usually appear until 10 or 20 years after you began smoking. A proper skin care regimen using anti-aging and moisturizing creams can also assist in preventing the formation of further wrinkles and fine lines.