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The effects of smoking on your skin

1st October 2014

We all know that smoking is bad for our health, but many smokers do not realise the impact they are having on their skin, both in the short-term and the long-term. For a beautiful, glowing complexion the best advice you will be given is to stop smoking.

The skin is a complex organ which is made up of three layers; the epidermis, dermis and subcutis. Did you know that tobacco smoke can penetrate into all three of these layers, either from the surface (around the fingers and face) or through the blood supply; reducing the skin's elasticity and leading to a number of skin problems.

Here at sk:n, we know first-hand the effects that smoking can have on a person's skin and looks, and we want to help! So to embrace Stoptober we have decided to provide you with an in-depth medical insight on the effects smoking can have on your skin, and hopefully this will help to keep you motivated to kick the nicotine.

Smoking ages your skin

Smoking can affect the appearance of your skin in many ways. Some of them are more widely known than others. For example I am sure that all smokers know that their habit is making the skin on their fingers turn a yellow colour, and that they are at risk of developing stained teeth; but those that are less known still play an equally important part in the skin attributes of a smoker.

The smoke from a cigarette will make the skin turn a dull, greyish colour which is how a smoker's natural glow disappears. As well as the discolouration, smoking can thin the skin as well as dry it out due to reducing vitamin A levels and moisture. It also contributes to those pesky dark circles underneath the eyes. However, don't worry, this is not permanent; these signs can be reversible following giving up smoking for good.

The nicotine in cigarettes adds years to your appearance; as well as taking away your natural glow it is known to give those that can't kick the habit a smoker's face. Smoking plays a major part in the development of lines and wrinkles around your lips, eyes and cheeks; and some research suggests that this is down to the puckering of the mouth when drawing a cigarette as well as the squinting in response to the smoke.

Cigarette smoke contains over 4,000 toxins and when you smoke these toxins are absorbed in to the bloodstreams; and thus restricts blood vessels. The knock on effect is that it reduces the amount of blood flowing to the skin, depleting the skin of oxygen and essential nutrients which depletes the collagen.

Smoking and skin cancer

If you smoke you are have twice the risk of developing skin cancer, and oral cancer. Sun exposure is no longer the most common risk for skin cancer, now new studies show that smoking is too. Studies are uncertain but the majority have found 50% greater risk of developing cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma, not basal cell carcinoma or melanoma (these are different types of skin cancer). Whilst they couldn't conclude why this was it is believed to be because smoking damages DNA in the skin tissue, leading to errant cell growth.

Smoking and acne

There is debated medical research that has shown that smokers are more likely to develop non-inflammatory acne as a result of smoking; this will include blocked pores and large blackheads. However, this medical research is not conclusive so whilst we can't say that it definitely will cause acne we can say that smoking definitely won't be helping.

Our expert medical advice

Lisa Mason, Medical Support Manager at sk:n says

"Smoking is one of the major causes of advanced ageing - tobacco smoke can penetrate into the skin through the surface and the skins blood supply. Therefore it is practically impossible to protect the skin from premature ageing. Once you stop smoking you will notice a difference in your skin within days - the grey, dull appearance will improve as the blood circulation increases and your risk of wrinkle development will improve as the natural moisture levels of the skin will not be affected by the exhaled smoke."

Look after your skin and stop smoking! If you can already notice the effects of smoking on your skin then we may be able to help. Once stopped completely there is a higher increase that aesthetic procedures, such as anti-ageing injectables, will work better and be effective for longer. We also offer a range of chemical peels and skin rejuvenation treatments to get back your natural glow.

0121 641 6000