The dangers of smoking are well-documented at this point. An increased risk of cancer, heart disease, and stroke are all strong contenders for the biggest reason to quit the habit. We know that smoking damages our insides, but sometimes, without a clear sign on the outside, it’s easy to ignore it.
It’s also worth noting that the internal damage of smoking may not manifest with an outward symptom at all. But whilst the signs of these diseases may not be visible, smoking does enough damaging to your outward appearance on its own. It isn’t anywhere near as threatening as the potential diseases smoking can cause, but it’s difficult to ignore the outside effects when they are visible to you and others around you.
Let’s taking a look at the key ways smoking warps your appearance.
Crow’s feet and bags
Wrinkles around the outside corners of the eyes, known as crow’s feet, happen to everyone eventually. But for smokers, crow’s feet will develop sooner and run deeper. As a natural reaction to the smoke and heat from a cigarette, smokers tend to squint to stop the smoke blowing back into their eyes. This motion tugs at the delicate skin around your eyes, causing lines to form and deepen.
Smokers are also more likely to see dark bags forming under their eyes. Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine conducted a study on the effects of smoking on sleep. The study involved 40 smokers and 40 nonsmokers undertaking a home polysomnography (sleep study), and an investigation into their sleep architecture. The findings suggested that smokers spend less time in a state of deep sleep, and are four times as likely to feel unrested.
“It is possible that smoking has time-dependent effects across the sleep period.” Suggests the author of the study Naresh M. Punjabi, MD, PhD, FCCP, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. “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 skin thrives on oxygen and nutrients, but smoking deprives both from getting to your skin. The result is an impact to your complexion, a greyish and dull appearance, and signs of premature aging by up to 20 years.
Nicotine also causes vascoconstriction; this condition actively throttles your blood vessels, narrowing them and limiting the flow of blood to the smaller vessels of your face. As a result, wounds will struggle to heal quickly, and when they eventually do, you’ll be left with a bigger, redder scar than normal.
As if that wasn’t enough, plenty of the 4,000 chemicals found in cigarettes will cause the breakdown of collagen and elastin in your body. These two fibres are the key to maintaining your skin’s elasticity. Without them, skin loses its strength and starts to sag and wrinkle more deeply. This is especially prominent around the face, breasts, and inner arms.
Finally, smokers also develop the rather unflatteringly-named “smoker’s pucker”. Due to frequent use of certain muscles around the mouth, wrinkles and lines form. This, combined with the previously mentioned loss of elasticity and strength in the skin, results in deep lines around the lips.
Your hair grows from follicles under the skin, but follicles need some essential building blocks to maintain their correct function. Oxygen, nutrients, and vitamins make for good hair growth, but as we know, smoking restricts these. Not only is your skin deprived, but your hair is too. Without the fuel to function, your follicles can’t continue a healthy hair cycle. Hair will thin and, eventually, hair loss will become a problem.
Ready to reclaim healthy skin and hair? Nicotinell’s nicotine patches are a great option for those looking to quit smoking for good.
Disclaimer: This is a collaborative post.