The effects that smoking has on your appearance
From increasing the risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease to the fact that ingredients found in tobacco smoke can cause damage inside your body, we know there are various issues linked to smoking.
Many of these problems can take a while to develop to the point where they become a concern — some may never be seen at all, in fact. However, smoking also has detrimental effects on your appearance — issues that will be clear for you and others to see.
This guide details just some ways that smoking can affect your appearance, possibly leading you to consider kicking the habit and starting your stop smoking journey.
Effects around your eyes
You may know them as crow’s feet, but wrinkles around the outside of your eyes are unfortunately something that we will all develop at some point in our 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.
Bags under your eyes may occur much more often too, if research by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine is anything to go by. This is because the study previously suggested 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.
“It is possible that smoking has time-dependent effects across the sleep period,” pointed out Naresh M. Punjabi, MD, PhD, FCCP, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “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.”
Effects on your skin
Skin will age more quickly and have a dull and grey appearance, as a result of smoking reducing the amount of oxygen and nutrients that get to your skin. Premature aging of your skin by between 10 and 20 years will also occur from smoking.
Vasoconstriction is an effect of nicotine as well, with this condition resulting in blood vessels narrowing and thus the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the tiny vessels around your face and other parts of the 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.
Furthermore, the destruction of collagen and elastin in the body is also triggered by the 4,000+ chemicals found in tobacco smoke. 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.
Have you heard of smoker’s pucker? It’s another effect that smoking causes around the face, 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.
Effects with your hair
This last sub-heading may be more accurate if it included the phrase ‘lack of hair’. 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.
A disruption in the normal hair growth and loss cycle occurs when follicles aren’t able to function properly. This in turn causes hair thinning and eventually hair loss.