The Skin Care Side Effects of Smoking: How Lighting Up Can Affect Your Complexion

September 12, 2016
Jessie Quinn
By: Jessie Quinn | by L'Oréal
The Skin Care Side Effects of Smoking: How Lighting Up Can Affect Your Complexion

It’s no secret that tobacco smoke comes with a side of toxins and chemicals that can wreak havoc on our bodies. The negative side effects of smoking are endless. And as the body’s largest organ—and its biggest protector—the skin is no exception to the wrath of lighting up. We share some of the most common skin care side effects of smoking, below.


If the negative health side effects of smoking aren’t enough…it may be time to quit for the sake of your complexion. Smoking is known to cause “smoker’s face” as detailed by the Mayo Clinic; this is characterized by a dull, sallow, and dry-looking complexion. And, folks, no amount of moisturizing will help unless you quit.


Just as the lack of oxygen can cause a dull, lackluster complexion, it also stunts circulation and decreases blood flow to the face. What does this mean? Oxygen and nutrients that are vital to skin can’t do their job the way they would otherwise.


Youthful complexions are marked by their springy ability to bounce back fast—this is primarily thanks to collagen and elastin. Smoking damages your skin’s natural collagen and elastin, thereby it can result in loose, sagging skin.


In addition to its damaging effects on collagen and elastin, smoking can speed up the normal aging process of your skin. According to the Mayo Clinic, this can happen “after only 10 years of smoking [and] even though the early skin damage from smoking may be hard for you to see initially, the more cigarettes you smoke—and the longer you smoke—the more skin wrinkling you’re likely to have.” As if that’s not enough, the facial expressions made while smoking—pursed lips and squinting eyes—can contribute to the appearance of wrinkles around the mouth and eyes. And we hate to break it to you, but if you smoke e-cigarettes, you’re not off the hook for this result either.

If you smoke, the best way for you to protect your skin and decrease your chances of some or all of these side effects, is to quit.

Editor’s tip: Even if you are a non-smoker, the side effects of second hand- and even third hand- smoke can be damaging to your health and your skin, as well. Free radicals that are caused by smoke pollution can affect anyone. 

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