Why smoking is ruining your skin

You’ve probably heard that smoking harms your lungs, your heart, and your teeth, but did you know that it can also harm your skin? In fact, if you smoke, you may be starting to see signs of damage in your skin and wonder why it’s happening. The answer lies in the chemicals found in cigarettes and the resulting effect they have on your body over time. Inhaling any type of smoke over an extended period of time can cause or aggravate skin conditions such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis. In fact, smokers are twice as likely to have acne than non-smokers. Long-term smoking can also leave you with wrinkles because it dries out your skin. Keep reading to learn more about what smoking does to your skin.

Premature Aging

The main reason smoking damages your skin so much is because it accelerates aging. The more you smoke, the faster time will seem to go by. This isn’t just an anecdotal concept, but something that has been proven repeatedly in scientific studies. A study conducted at Case Western Reserve University found that smokers grew old twice as fast as nonsmokers, losing about two years of life expectancy for every ten years smoked. Other studies have found links between smoking and premature aging of up to 10 years! It doesn’t matter if you smoke heavily for a short period or only light up occasionally—smoking ages your skin almost immediately.


First of all, smoking dries out your skin. When you inhale through a cigarette, nicotine has a constricting effect on blood vessels that can restrict blood flow to all parts of your body, including your skin. This blood restriction leads to dehydration and what you’re left with are dry patches of wrinkly skin. This is bad news for your face, and not just because it adds years onto your appearance. Dry skin makes wrinkles more pronounced, accelerating their formation even more. It also exposes collagen to damaging UV rays from the sun, breaking down its structure. All in all, smokers tend to age much faster than non-smokers— with some studies showing that the skin of heavy smokers at the age of 40 years resembles skin of a non-smoking 70 year-old!

Loss of Elasticity

As we age, our skin loses elasticity and becomes thinner and more prone to sagging. And, unfortunately, smoking can make it happen much sooner than we’d like. Research has found that smoking leads to a much higher risk of developing premature skin aging and even moderate smoking can accelerate signs of aging such as wrinkles and loss of elasticity. While quitting smoking will likely restore some elasticity over time, it’s never too late to start protecting your skin from further damage now.

Increase in Wrinkles

In addition to adding years to your face, smoking can also significantly age your skin. Most research shows that smokers tend to show signs of premature skin aging by their late 30s and 40s. This effect is a result of a combination of factors: firstly, nicotine constricts blood vessels and reduces blood flow, limiting how much oxygen gets delivered to your cells. Without adequate oxygen, cells become less flexible and appear more wrinkled. Additionally, nicotine breaks down collagen, which helps give skin its elasticity. In general people who smoke have less antioxidant protection as well as lower levels of circulating immune cells in their blood stream called lymphocytes.


If you are looking for some advice on quitting smoking, you can refer to our simple tips to help you quit smoking.