Smoking can certainly wreak havoc on the organs of your body, and your skin is no different. Although others may not detect the damage that years of cigarettes has done to your lungs, they will likely notice your habit when it comes to your facial skin. Smoking is associated with premature skin aging as well as delayed wound healing. In fact, since the 1970’s studies have shown that smoking results in more premature facial wrinkling than sun exposure! Crows feet and vertical lines around the mouth appear much earlier in smokers than non-smokers. DermNet NZ states the alarming statistic that “by the age of 70 years, smoking 30 cigarettes a day could lead to the equivalent of an extra 14 years of skin aging.”
How exactly does smoking expedite facial aging? The cause is not entirely certain. However, DermNet reveals some current theories including:
- Heat from the cigarette directly burning the skin
- Changes in the elastic fibers of the skin
- Narrowing of blood vessels (vasoconstriction), which reduces blood supply to the skin and can cause changes in skin elastic fibers and loss of collagen
- Reducing Vitamin A levels and moisture of the skin
In addition to making yourself appear much older than you really are, your smoking habit can also lower your body’s ability to heal a wound. One reason is that your skin has a lack of oxygen and vasoconstriction in the skin cells, which delays healing and puts you at risk for blood clots and infection.
Trying to maintain healthy, youthful skin is an uphill battle if you are lighting up a cigarette every day. If the damage to your appearance is not enough to make you kick your habit, the health consequences certainly should be. Smoking is known to cause cancer as well as lung and heart disease.