You know it’s bad for you, it affects your heart, lungs, brain and even your sex life. But the immediate effects are not always visible to the naked eye, What if each cigarette left a black mark on your face for instance. Believe me, it really does damage your looks. Below we have listed just a few of the common ways smoking can affect your appearance and damage your skin.
Smoking has long been known to accelerate the ageing process, so much so that smokers have been proven to look 1.4 years older than non-smokers on average. Why? Smoking reduces the blood supply that keeps skin tissue looking supple and healthy. This reduced blood flow causes the skin to look dull and lacklustre as well as decreasing skin oxygen levels. Cigarette smoke contains carbon monoxide which displaces oxygen in your skin and nicotine in cigarettes reduces blood flow leaving skin dry and discoloured. Cigarette smoke also depletes many nutrients including vitamin C which helps to protect and repair skin damage. In addition the very action of smoking it causes lines around the mouth area.
Smoking is the leading cause of many cancers including:
- lung cancer
- throat cancer
- mouth cancer
- oesophagal cancer
- skin cancer
The reason for this is smoking causes more cell mutations. Mutations eventually grow into tumours. In 2001 a study found that smokers are three times as likely to develop Squamous Cell Carcinoma, the second most common type of skin cancer.
Under Eye Bags
Often the first place to show a lack of sleep is your face. If you smoke you are four times more likely to report feeling tired after a night’s sleep. It could be the nightly nicotine withdrawal that is causing you to toss and turn, if you think logically, you are depriving your body of nicotine for around 6-10 hours a night. Could you imagine going that long in the day without a cigarette?
Nicotine causes vasoconstriction, a narrowing of the blood vessels that can limit oxygen-rich blood flow to the tiny vessels in the face and other parts of the body. This reduction in blood flow results in wounds takes longer to heal and when you do develop scars they are bigger redder than non-smokers. Several studies have found that smokers do not heal as well after surgeries such as face lifts, tooth extractions etc. This slow healing process also applies to acne scars and marks. Therefore teenagers that smoke are particularly prone to acne scars and marks as the nicotine will not only cause a restriction in blood flow, leading to a slow cell turnover which contributes to the build up of compactions on the skin as well as depletes many nutrients including vitamin C which helps to protect and repair skin damage but also once the acne has dissipated the scars left behind will be more prominent and redder than non-smoking teens.
Experts now think that the toxic chemicals in smoke can damage the DNA in hair follicles and generate cell-damaging free radicals as well. This means that smokers have thinner hair that tends to go grey sooner than non-smokers due to the production of free radicals that are produced by smoke.
It has also been proven to be a leading factor in hair loss, men who smoke are twice as likely to lose hair as non-smokers after taking genetics into account.
The nicotine in cigarettes can stain your teeth permanently, not to mention it can also cause early tooth decay.
The nicotine in cigarette smoke not only stains your teeth but it is notorious for staining fingers and nails as well. It also reduces the blood and oxygen supply to the hands causing an acceleration in the ageing process of the hands. This means smokers hands will look older quicker and be more prone to liver or age spots as well as reduced collagen and elastin levels.
Smoking puts you a greater risk for all kinds of dental problems, including oral cancer and gum disease. Another study showed that smokers are six times more likely than non-smokers to develop gum disease which is the leading cause of tooth loss.
Psoriasis is an immune-related skin condition that can affect anyone if even they do not have a cigarette. However if you smoke your risk for Psoriasis increases. As shown by a study in 2007 – people who smoke a pack a day for 10 years or less, increased the risk of developing psoriasis by 20%. If they continued to smoke for the next 11-20 years the risk increases to a huge 60%. Even second-hand smoke during pregnancy and childhood is linked to an increased risk of developing psoriasis.