Puff, Puff, Pass (on the Cigarette)

It’s no secret that smoking has detrimental effects on the brain, lungs, heart, and practically the entirety of the human body. However, less discussed are those aesthetic consequences that result from smoking; specifically, on the skin. So, if lung cancer, heart disease, a weakened immune system, and risk of infertility (just to name a few possible health risks) aren’t enough of a reason to steer clear of the cigarette, here are an added few detrimental effects of smoking on the skin.

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 1 billion people worldwide are smokers. Every time any one of these people take a puff from a cigarette, they experience reduced blood flow to the skin and rest of the body. This affects resurfacing rate of the skin, meaning that imperfections such as acne scarring or stretch marks take much longer to heal. This also means that skin appears much duller due to lack of skin renewal. The blood vessels in the body dilate which causes damage to the capillary walls, and when these dilated vessels are close to the epidermis, there tends to be blotchiness and a more prominent appearance of veins. This condition is called Telangiectasia.

In addition to blood flow constriction, there are also reduced levels of oxygen and nutrients circulating throughout the entire body. This, in turn, depletes the skin of collagen and elastin, which are structural proteins that keep the skin taut and youthful. Due to the absence of these proteins, smokers’ skin tends to be saggy, more prone to wrinkles, and uneven. Collagen and elastin are also reduced in quantity by free radicals in the skin.

The smoker’s pucker; or the repetitive pursing of the lips around the head of the cigarette, causes crow’s feet wrinkles around the mouth and eyes. The effect of these physical movements to create wrinkles are exacerbated by the toxins in the smoke and within the cigarette that accelerate the aging of the skin.

Now, you may be thinking, “I can just use some skin creams and serums to combat these aesthetic effects of smoking!” But, unfortunately, the damage caused by cigarette smoking is an internal process that is, more often than not, irreversible. The skin cells are already so damaged that the only viable and realistic solution to stop further damage from occurring is by putting down the cigarette.

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