How smoking affects your skin

It’s pretty common knowledge that cigarette smoke is one of your complexion’s peskiest enemies, alongside other environmental aggressors such as pollution and UV light (please, wear SPF). The chemicals found in cigarette smoke can age your skin beyond belief, alongside yellowing teeth and staining fingers and nails. If you needed an extra reason to quit (besides the obvious), here’s how smoking damages your skin: 


There are thousands of harmful chemicals found in cigarette smoke, all of which can play havoc with your skin’s health even if you are only an occasional smoker. This means that the effects of what seems like a one-off puff on a boozy Friday night will still be there come Monday morning. Hooman Khorasani, chief of dermatologic and cosmetic surgery at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai told Allure that every cigarette smoked contracts the blood flow for 30 minutes, causing your skin to suffer for prolonged periods of time. Reduced blood flow impacts your complexion negatively in a multitude of ways, from increasing the risk of infection (acne scars will take longer to heal), to speeding up the ageing process and discoloration. 


When it comes to wrinkles, smoking is one of the main factors that adds to their appearance, especially on certain areas of the face. Cigarette smoke eats away proteins, facilitating dryness and creasing around the eyes and lips (& not only). Puffing also increases the risk of psoriasis, which is an uncomfortable skin condition associated with dryness and itchiness on the face and body. 


The unstable molecules found in cigarette smoke (free radicals) have an avid reputation of compromising your skin’s protective barrier. Once this barrier starts breaking down, the production of collagen and elastin decreases, causing your complexion to suffer. This process is an absolute glow killer - cue dullness, patchiness and overall tired-looking skin Essentially, smoking creates your very own polluted environment, causing your complexion to absorb all the nasties every time you exhale. 


Whilst smoking famously increases your chances of lung cancer, the chemicals can actually cause skin cancer too. This is due to the effects of harmful UV rays being more prominent on a smoker’s complexion due to the destroyed protective barrier. Second-hand smoking is just as bad when it comes to free-radical damage, so your friends and loved ones won’t be spared when you puff next to them. 


On a more positive note, the damage isn’t fully irreversible. Once you quit smoking, your skin immediately starts to regenerate itself. Your blood flow will improve, meaning glow and plumpness will be restored, and you will experience less dryness and dullness. With your skin starting to receive more oxygen and nutrients, the health of your complexion will visibly improve within the first few days after you’ve stubbed it out for good!