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How does smoking affect your skin?

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If you’re a smoker and you’re worried about the effect it’s having on your skin, we’re here to help. Smoking is associated with all kinds of health risks. You probably already know that it raises your risk for diseases like cancer, heart disease, and stroke, but you might not realise it can also impact your skin. Read on to find out how exactly smoking affects your skin.

How does smoking cause ageing of the skin?

Smoking ages the skin in a few different ways, many of which are noticeable to you and to other people.

The chemicals in tobacco affect circulation (the movement of blood around the body). People who smoke have less blood flow to the face, which means their skin gets less oxygen and fewer nutrients.

It’s also thought that smoking affects the production of collagen. This is a protein that keeps the skin healthy, strong and stretchy. As we get older, our bodies produce less collagen, which is why our skin starts to sag and wrinkle. Smoking can speed up this process, causing premature ageing.

If your skin feels dry or you want to revive skin, an anti-ageing moisturiser could help.

What are the signs of smoking you can see on a person's face?

It’s common for long-term smokers to develop fine lines and wrinkles on their face.

Smokers sometimes develop distinctive lines around the mouth – this is known as a “smoker’s pucker”. It’s caused by the repeated motion of pursing your lips around the end of a cigarette. This motion can also cause fine lines to develop around the eyes (“crow’s feet”).

Smoking can also affect the colour and tone of the skin. Because the chemicals in tobacco affect blood flow to the face, smoking can make the skin look pale or grey. It can also create yellow staining on the hands and fingers.

Can you get acne from smoking?

Some studies have found a link between acne and smoking, particularly in women. If you’re a smoker you may find that you experience blocked pores and blackheads. Making sure your skincare routine includes a cleanser could help to keep skin clear.

Because smoking can affect how quickly wounds heal, people with severe acne might find that it takes longer for spots and blemishes to go away.

The best way to take care of your skin is to stop smoking. Our Stop Smoking Service can help you find the support and products you need to succeed.

What other skin problems are caused by smoking?

Not only can smoking cause wrinkles and skin discolouration it can also increase the symptoms and trigger certain skin conditions. If you have psoriasis, discoid lupus erythematosus or hidradenitis suppurativa, smoking might make your symptoms worse. Smoking can also increase your risk of developing skin cancer.

Does your skin improve after you quit smoking?

Quitting smoking will improve your circulation and increase blood flow to your face. Once your skin starts getting a healthy amount of oxygen and nutrients, you might notice an improvement in your complexion.

Unfortunately, quitting smoking can’t reverse skin damage. The good news is that it can prevent further premature ageing. Just remember, your skin will naturally sag and wrinkle as you get older – quitting smoking won’t prevent this, but it can slow the process down.

How can I repair my skin after stopping smoking?

If you quit smoking, your body will naturally repair itself in all sorts of ways. However, some damage, including wrinkles on the face, will be permanent.

Treatments for wrinkled, prematurely aged skin include chemical peels, Botox injections, dermal fillers, and cosmetic surgery. None of these are available on the NHS, and they can be very expensive. They also vary in effectiveness and invasiveness – a facelift, for instance, may change the entire look and shape of your face.

If you’re thinking about having a treatment like this, make sure you don’t rush into a decision. Talk to specialist practitioners and get lots of professional advice, so you’ll have a good idea of what to expect.

If you want to try at-home treatments before getting help from a professional, click here to browse our facial skincare products.

How can I prevent skin ageing?

Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your skin – and for your health in general.

You can also protect your skin by preventing sun damage. The UV radiation in sunlight damages your skin cells, causing premature ageing. It can also cause skin cancer.

To stay safe:

  • Wear broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 – it’s a good idea to wear SPF on your face year-round
  • In very sunny weather, avoid direct sunlight between 11am and 3pm
  • Avoid using sunbeds

How can I get help to stop smoking?

If you’re struggling to quit for good, we have stop smoking advice and our in-store Stop Smoking Service. We can offer free advice to smokers looking to give up.

We also supply a range of nicotine replacement products in our online pharmacy, including nicotine gums, lozenges, sprays and patches.

Stop smoking tool