It is no secret that smoking isn’t good for you – not for your body or your health, inside or out. Long associated with cancer and lung and heart disease, we now also know that smoking can be linked with premature skin ageing, delayed wound healing, and potentially other disorders such as psoriasis, hidradenitis suppurativa – a rare, long-term skin condition that results in small, painful lumps under the skin; and even cutaneous lupus erythematosus – commonly known as lupus, an autoimmune disease that affects your body’s systems and organs.
But sometimes knowing what smoking can do to you on the inside is not enough to kick the habit. If each cigarette had a visible impact on your face however, it would probably be easier to quit. Well, there are many good reasons not to smoke. And the fact that it does wreck your looks is just one.
So how does smoking affect your looks exactly?
Let’s look at what is actually in cigarettes. Cigarette smoke contains carbon monoxide – the colourless, odourless gas found in fumes produced any time you burn fuel in cars, trucks or small engines. In certain quantities, it can poison you. The carbon monoxide in cigarettes displaces the oxygen in your skin leaving it dry and discoloured. This is compounded by the presence of nicotine, a toxic liquid and the chief ingredient of tobacco, which acts as stimulant in small doses. In larger doses however, it affects nerve and skeletal muscle cells. In cigarette smoke, it hinders blood flow.
Cigarette smoke also contains a number of compounds that are emitted as oxidants, the agents that can produce free radicals – the harmful element often found in our environment. Vitamin E, vitamin C, B-carotene and selenium all have an important role to play in cellular anti-oxidant defense and smoking hinders their ability to do this by depleting many nutrients in your body. By depleting vitamin C in particular, smoking is diminishing the power of the nutrient that helps protect and repair skin damage.
Smoking results in prematurely aged-looking skin
There are a number of other theories as to how smoking affects your skin: narrowing of blood vessels, which reduces blood supply, causing a loss of collagen and elasticity, and even heat from the cigarette burning the skin directly.
All of this essentially results in prematurely aged-looking skin with a number of noticeable effects.
Everyone looks a little worse when they are tired – bags under the eyes, perhaps a dullness to the skin. Those who smoke are more likely to suffer from poor sleep – possibly due to a nightly lack of nicotine withdrawal. So repeated nights of unrest naturally take an eventual toll on your skin. While on the subject of nicotine, remember it stains your teeth and fingers too – so instead of lovely shiny white teeth repeated smoking will give you not-so-shiny yellow ones, and yellow or brown fingers to match.
The restricted blood flow to the face caused by inhaling nicotine is also the main cause of wrinkles among smokers. A regular, healthy blood supply to the face keeps your skin supple, healthy and radiant – without this, your skin is more likely to develop deep wrinkles, and the carbon monoxide which depletes the vitamins naturally present in your body can also result in a duller appearance. In some people, this may result in a more uneven skin tone while in others, may cause them to look permanently pale and washed out, or even slightly orange.
The deep wrinkles do not only affect your face. Sagging skin – like the type associated with the dreaded ‘turkey neck’ – can also result from the destruction of collagen and elastin. Additionally the repeated sucking motion around a cigarette and squinting while inhaling increases the likelihood of developing fine lines around the mouth and eyes.
We’ve already mentioned that smoking affects wound healing. Well, the restricted blood flow through narrowed blood vessels is also important here, in that by limiting oxygen-rich blood flow to parts of your body, your wounds take longer to heal and scars take longer to fade.
Quitting can result in improvements to your appearance
Tobacco smoke contains some 4,000 chemicals – a simply staggering number. So the obvious solution to combatting all of smoking’s negative effects on your skin, your body and your health, is to quit. Amazingly, in just 20 minutes after quitting your blood pressure and heart rate return to normal. In 24 hours, you’ve already reduced your risk of a heart attack.
Combat the wrinkles and age spots that may have developed
As your blood flow is restored, your skin receives more oxygen and your complexion will become healthier. However, while you’ll naturally become more resistant to signs of ageing if you quit, you’ll probably need some help for your skin to combat the wrinkles and age spots that may have developed.
But by incorporating some simple elements into your skincare routine, this can be done.
The first would be to ensure a daily sunscreen. Don’t worsen the effects of smoking by adding sun damage into the mix. pHformula recommends a moisturizing defense cream, such as the unique multifunctional complexion correcting SPF 30+ and 50+ creams that minimize imperfections while blocking your skin from harmful UV rays.
Restore your skin with vital nutrients and vitamins
And you need to restore your skin with vital nutrients and vitamins. pHformula, always at the leading edge of innovation in anti-ageing and skincare, has thrown its extensive knowledge into the design of three Vita creams – Vita C, Vita A and Vita B3 – that help the nutrients absorb directly into your skin. Safe to use over an extended period of time, the creams tackle blemishes, fine lines, dehydration, and dark spots while rapidly absorbing these highly beneficial nutrients.
Restore your former healthy glow
pHformula has also developed the S.O.S rescue oil – a dual phase oil which is an innovative combination of oil blends and naturally sourced actives. It softens the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, while improving collagen production and visibly firming up the skin and helping to restore your former healthy glow.
Quitting smoking is no easy task but of course it is possible – people do it every day. Your body – and your skin – will thank you.
Contact pHformula for more information.