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How Smoking Damages Your Skin and What To Do About It

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Our skin can be damaged by many different external factors. Our recent piece on the effects of the sun highlighted how enjoying the summer can lead to serious skin damage. Smoking can also present a serious problem for your skin. Whilst this study shows that around 1.3 billion people smoke globally, it is a habit that is slowly dying out. Smoking rates have fallen year on year since the fifties, and with increased awareness of the health implications, they will continue to do so.

However, aside from the obvious health issues, did you know smoking can seriously damage your skin? If you’re one of those 1.3 billion smokers, here’s why you should consider giving up for your skin.

Smoking’s Effect on Skin

To understand the full scope of the damage inflicted by smoking on the skin, it is imperative to explore the physiological function of the skin. Acting as a protective barrier, the skin is subject to a complex system that maintains its integrity and appearance. Collagen, a structural protein responsible for skin firmness and elasticity, is a linchpin in this delicate balance. Smoking, however, disrupts this by introducing an array of harmful chemicals into the bloodstream.
The first casualty in the war between your skin and smoking is collagen. Smoking constricts blood vessels, leading to reduced blood flow and oxygen supply to the skin. In turn, this impedes collagen production, causing a gradual breakdown of the skin’s supportive structure. As collagen dwindles, the skin loses its resilience, resulting in the formation of fine lines, wrinkles, and a premature ageing process commonly referred to as “smoker’s face.” Other telltale signs of a smoker’s skin are often unmistakable – a sallow complexion, uneven skin tone, and a lacklustre appearance.

Furthermore, the impact of smoking extends beyond how your skin looks. Studies have shown that smoking exacerbates skin conditions such as psoriasis and accelerates the development of chronic skin disorders. The impaired immune function induced by smoking compromises the body’s ability to ward off infections and heal wounds effectively, leaving the skin more susceptible to various ailments.

Perhaps one of the most worrying consequences of smoking on skin health is the heightened risk of skin cancer. The carcinogenic substances present in cigarette smoke, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and heavy metals, have been linked to an increased incidence of squamous cell carcinoma.

How To Quit

The one sure way to improve your skin’s condition is to give up smoking. That’s often done by finding a smoking alternative that can replace combustible cigarettes. There are plenty on the market which offer those wishing to give up smoking plenty of choices.

One of the most popular is nicotine gum, a product that this article demonstrates is growing as a cessation aid. It contains a controlled amount of nicotine, allowing users to reduce their dependency gradually. Chewed like regular gum, it facilitates a controlled release of nicotine, mitigating withdrawal symptoms such as cravings and irritability. This over-the-counter product provides a convenient and discreet method for individuals striving to quit smoking by managing their nicotine intake and breaking the habit gradually.

Another product growing in popularity is nicotine pouches. Pouches are also smokeless and a discreet alternative to smoking. Typically containing nicotine, flavourings, and plant-based fibres, these pouches are placed between the gum and lip, providing a controlled and convenient method for nicotine intake without the need for smoking. Brands such as ZYN, Juice Head, and On! have grown in popularity globally, with various flavours and nicotine strengths to allow for a bespoke smoking cessation plan. This site reveals how Juice Head pouches come in flavours, such as blueberry lemon mint and peach pineapple, in strengths ranging from 6 mg to 12 mg. This gives a smoker options not only in terms of their experience but how much nicotine the pouch delivers.

Finally, patches are transdermal aids used in smoking cessation, which fix to the outer body. They deliver a controlled dose of nicotine through the skin, alleviating withdrawal symptoms without the harmful effects of smoking. The patches do adhere to the skin, releasing nicotine gradually throughout the day, helping individuals manage cravings and gradually reduce dependency. However, they can cause skin irritation, and whilst that might not be visible on the upper arm, it can be counterproductive if your reason for giving up is skincare.


Many factors can impact skin health, but there’s no doubt that smoking is a major one. By giving up smoking, you can ensure your skin remains in good condition for as long as possible.

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