Along with too much sun exposure, a lack of sleep, and stress, smoking is one of the worst things you can do if you want youthful, healthy skin. The British Heart Foundation are using No Smoking Day to encourage people to make today the day they decide to quit for good, and there are so many potential benefits to your health and appearance it’s a no-brainer.
Dr Douglas Model coined the term ‘smokers face’ in 1985, to refer to the complexion people often develop as a result of smoking. He claimed to be able to identify a smoker of ten years or more by their face alone, as the signs were so distinctive.
Everyone is familiar with the risks of lung cancer, stroke and heart disease, as well as many other lung conditions such as emphysema, and how closely linked they are to smoking. However, the toxins and chemicals ingested have much wider implications. Cigarette smoke slows down the skin’s ability to regenerate, it starves cells of oxygen, and reduces blood supply to the skin too – all very damaging to the body’s largest organ.
Ruins your skin tone
Because smoking deprives every inch of your body of oxygen, skin becomes more pale, dull and discoloured. Skin will also be dehydrated, so will suffer from dryness and look noticeably lifeless. That youthful, dewy complexion that has become so popular is virtually impossible to achieve if you’re a smoker.
Makes wrinkles much worse
Smoking also narrows the blood vessels, which in turn damages collagen and elastin, which are naturally found in the skin, causing deep and irreversible wrinkles. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, wrinkles have been seen at a microscopic level in smokers as young as 20, showing how early this damage begins to occur.
Makes skin sag
The destruction of elastin and collagen doesn’t just affect the face, it makes skin weaker in other parts of the body too, such as the arms and breasts, and it begins to sag more quickly than it would naturally.
For many, loose skin around the arms is one of the worst things about getting older, and impossible to reverse without surgery, and smoking is going to accelerate the whole process.
Causes psoriasis and other severe skin conditions
For those who suffer from it, psoriasis is a very uncomfortable and unsightly problem. Most common on the joints, hands, feet and back, psoriasis involves itchy patches of white, red or silver tinged, inflamed skin. Smokers are actually twice as likely to develop psoriasis, with women facing a greater risk than men.
Palmoplantar pustulosis (PPP) is a skin condition that often appears alongside psoriasis and predominantly affects the hands and feet, and is particularly severe. According to studies conducted into tobacco and its effects on the skin, 95% of PPP sufferers are smokers.
A lot of damage caused by smoking is irreversible, but it can be improved by treatments that target the outer layer of the skin, where damage is the most prominent. Anti-ageing facials and laser treatments such as IPL skin rejuvenation can improve damaged skin with intense light pulses.
For more information about the British Heart Foundation’s No Smoking Day, and to find out how you can help yourself or loved ones to quit smoking, click here.