Does Smoking Affect Your Skin? What Happens To Your Skin When You Kick The Butt?

Written by , MA (English Literature) Ramona Sinha MA (English Literature) Experience: 11 years
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Smoking causes premature skin aging (1). And a lot more than you could ever imagine!

Your lungs and heart surely take a beating when you force tobacco smoke down your throat, but it seems that it is also not the best decision for your skin. No matter how much you follow an elaborate skin care routine every day, smoking can ruin it all. In this article, we have discussed how smoking can affect your skin and why it’s time to quit now. Read on.

Unexpected Ways Smoking Affects Your Skin

1. Smoking Causes Premature Aging

Tobacco smoke weakens collagen production by increasing the matrix metalloproteinases or MMP levels. High MMP levels have a damaging impact on elastic fibers (that maintain the elasticity of your skin), collagen production, and proteoglycans (1).

2. Smoking Not Just Kills You But Your Skin Cells As Well!

Smoking increases the levels of oxidative stress. As a result, harmful free radicals accumulate in the keratinocytes (epidermal cells that produce keratin) and influence the genetic program and cause cell death (2).

3. Smoking Makes Your Skin Rough

Smoking affects the stratum corneum (topmost layer of skin). It reduces the speed of cell turnover. This causes corneocytes to start accumulating on your skin, giving it a rough and dull appearance (2).

4. It Increases Pigmentation

Tobacco smoke contains nicotine and benzopyrene. These stimulate melanin production and increase skin pigmentation (2).

5. It Delays Wound Healing

Nicotine is a vasoconstrictor that reduces blood flow to your skin. As a result, your skin does not get enough supply of nutrients. This causes tissue ischemia and slows down tissue healing (3).

6. Smoking Decreases Oxygen Levels In Your Tissues

Smoking causes tissue hypoxia by constricting the flow of oxygen (4), (5). This speeds up premature skin aging.

7. Smoking Gives You Wrinkles

A study found that cigarette smokers were at a higher risk of developing facial wrinkles compared to non-smokers (6).

Whether you are a heavy smoker or among those who participate in a once-in-a-while smoking spree, nothing will spare your skin from the tragic results of smoking. In no time, your skin will lose its natural glow, and this will make you look older than you are.

So, what happens to your skin when you quit smoking?

The answer is simple: your skin starts healing from all the adverse effects of tobacco and nicotine. When you quit smoking, you will get:

  • Tight And Bright Skin

Now, your skin is getting adequate nutrients. The tissues are not oxygen-deprived, the collagen production gets back to normal, and your skin becomes elastic again.

  • Thick And Gorgeous Hair

Your scalp and hair follicles will start to recover. Smoking damages the DNA of your hair follicles and also controls tissue remodeling while your hair is growing (7). This affects the quality of your hair.

  • Whiter Teeth And Fresher Breath

Once you stop smoking, your breath gets fresher. However, your teeth will not regain their natural whiteness. You need to visit the dentist to reverse the damage and remove the stains.

Don’t expect things to get better right after you quit smoking. It takes a while for your body to repair the damage you have put it through. You can’t undo it entirely but can minimize it. You need to help your body repair the damage and your skin to regain the lost sheen. Here is how you can repair the skin damage caused by smoking.

Ways To Improve Skin Damage Caused By Smoking

Ways To Improve Skin Damage Caused By Smoking
Image: Shutterstock

Once you quit smoking, you will see your body and skin getting better. However, there’s a lot you have got to do before you can reduce the signs of cigarette abuse from your skin. Here is what you can do to repair the damage:

1. Check Your Eating Habits

You need to improve your eating habits and supply your body and skin with more vitamins and minerals. Increase your intake of vegetables and fresh fruits, such as broccoli, carrots, green leaves, oranges, papaya, strawberries, bell peppers, tomatoes, and avocados. These are rich in vitamins A and C, which are crucial for skin health.

2. Take Supplements

If you think the vitamin intake is not adequate, you can take skin supplements to fill the gap. However, consult a doctor before you take any skin or vitamin supplements.

3. Use Skin Care Products

Serums, essences, moisturizers, creams, face packs, night gels, collagen boosting creams, sheet masks, and peeling masks – there are all sorts of products available to take care of your skin care concerns. A healthy diet, along with a proper skin care routine, can help repair the damage caused by smoking.

4. Try AHAs

Skin care products containing AHAs (or Alpha Hydroxy Acids) are incredibly beneficial for your skin. These exfoliate and moisturize your skin, reduce the appearance of wrinkles, and prevent pore clogging. You may use retinol-based products to reduce the signs of aging. However, consult a dermatologist before you use any acids to determine the right concentration for your skin.

5. See A Dermatologist

This is the last and most critical step to follow if you care for your skin. No one understands your skin better than a dermatologist. They can tell what measures you need to take to repair the damage. Depending on the damage, they can suggest topical or cosmetic remedies.

It may take some time for your skin to recover, but it will be worth the effort. Your heart and lungs will also thank you. If you haven’t quit the habit yet, do it as soon as possible for the sake of your skin and overall health.


  1. Tobacco smoke causes..” Journal of Dermatological Sciences, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  2. Histological study on the effect of..” Anatomy of Cell Biology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  3. Smoking and wound healing” The American Journal of Medicine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  4. Cigarette Smoking Decreases..” JAMA Network
  5. Changes of oxygen content in facial..” Skin Research and Technology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  6. Facial wrinkling in men and women, by smoking status.” American Journal of Public Health, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  7. Association between smoking and hair loss..” Dermatology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
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Ramona Sinha
Ramona is an editor at StyleCraze with 11 years of experience in writing and editing. She has authored over 200 articles on skin and hair care. She graduated from the University of Calcutta, West Bengal, and did her post-graduation from the University of Kalyani, West Bengal.

Read full bio of Ramona Sinha
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