Beauty & Style

What Smoking Does to Your Appearance

There are many issues associated with smoking, from the habit increasing your risk of cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease and stroke, to the ingredients found in tobacco smoke causing damage inside your body.

A lot of these problems may take a while to develop to the point where alarm bells start ringing, or may never be able to be seen. However, smoking also has detrimental effects on your appearance — issues that will be clear for you and others to see.

To help you along your stop smoking journey, here’s some of the ways that smoking will affect your appearance and why it may be time to kick the habit:

Your skin

One effect of smoking is that it reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that get to your skin, with the result being that skin will begin to age more quickly, and exhibit a dull and grey appearance. Premature aging of your skin by between 10 and 20 years will also occur from smoking.

It’s also important to note that nicotine causes vasoconstriction, which is a condition that sees blood vessels being narrowed and oxygen-rich blood flow to the tiny vessels found around your face and other parts of your body being limited. The problem of this condition will be seen if you suffer a wound, as vasoconstriction will take it longer to heal and result in scars appearing bigger and redder than those who aren’t affected by the condition.

Many of the 4,000 chemicals found in tobacco smoke will trigger the destruction of elastin and collagen in the body too. These are fibres required to give skin its strength and elasticity — lose them and sagging skin and deeper wrinkles will be the consequence, which will be seen especially around the inner arms, breasts and face.

On the topic of your face, smoking will also see the development of smoker’s pucker — an occurrence that comes about as smokers use certain muscles around their lips which cause dynamic wrinkles to appear. Combined with a loss of elasticity to the skin, the result in regards to appearance will be deep lines around the lips.

Your eyes

Keeping the focus on the face, wrinkles on the outside of the eyes — otherwise known as crow’s feet — will be something that everyone will notice eventually in their lives. However, they develop earlier and go deeper when you smoke due to the heat from lit cigarettes and also as a result of a smoker squinting in an attempt to keep smoke out of their eyes.

You could also experience bags under your eyes more frequently too, due to a study by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine previously suggesting that those who smoke cigarettes are four times more likely to report feeling unrested after a night’s sleep than non-smokers. The study, which involved the analysis of the sleep architecture of 40 smokers and a matched group of 40 nonsmokers who all undertook home polysomnography, also suggested that smokers spend less time in a deep sleep than non-smokers.

Naresh M. Punjabi, MD, PhD, FCCP, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD and the study’s author, commented: “It is possible that smoking has time-dependent effects across the sleep period. Smokers commonly experience difficulty falling asleep due to the stimulating effects of nicotine. As night evolves, withdrawal from nicotine may further contribute to sleep disturbance.”

Your hair

Or lack of it, to make this particular heading more accurate.

This is because hair grows from sac-like structures found underneath the scalp called follicles. However, these need oxygen, essential nutrients and vitamins/minerals in order to function correctly and trigger natural hair growth but, as previously discussed, smoking reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that get to your skin.

Follicles that aren’t functioning properly result in a disruption of the normal hair growth and loss cycle, which in turn causes hair thinning and eventually hair loss.


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