Four Ways Smoking Can Damage your Skin

There is much discussion surrounding skin damage due to overexposure to the burning UV rays of the sun, but many people overlook the proven link between skin damage and smoking. Both men and women are seeking ways to prevent progressive skin damage and obvious signs of aging through topical remedies as a lifestyle change. Yet, quitting smoking is one thing that can dramatically revitalise skin tone and allow your skin to absorb water hydration and vital nutrients from the food and the sun

The consumer trend for skin rejuvenuation and anti-aging skin products is skyrocketing. The global anti-aging market sector is expected to continue growing at a rate of 7.8% with a projected worth of USD 191.7 billion by 2019. Yet, for those who quit smoking, the natural skin healing process takes place within one month, using simple skin care tips which include cleansing, exfoliating and moisturizing to help accelerate the process.

If you're considering quitting, we suggest by starting to understand better the reasons why you smoke. Download our guide: "What Type of Smoker Are You" for further insight:

What type of smoker are you has reviewed numerous research studies which have linked tobacco smoking to premature skin aging along with a number of other skin issues. Here are Four ways proven skin conditions that can be caused or exacerbated by smoking:

1. Acne 

Is inflammation or infection of the sebaceous glands in the skin; a condition characterised by red pimples on the face, chest, or back. Sebaceous glands are small glands in the skin that secrete a lubricating oily matter (sebum) into the hair follicles to lubricate the skin and hair. One study found that 98% of the persons with abnormalities present in the sebaceous glands, were smokers.

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2. Premature skin aging

Includes a dull-looking complexion, increased wrinkles and dryness, less skin elasticity, and even dark circles under the eyes. As a matter of fact, smokers according to this same study review, smokers often look almost 5 years older than non-smokers. Often, older long-time smokers are easily recognised by their deep-patterned facial wrinkles and skin dryness.

It is thought that smoking affects the function of human skin cells present in connective tissue that form collagen and elastin, thereby accelerating the appearance of aging. Further evidence is showing a direct relationship between smokers with wrinkled skin and a higher susceptibility to developing COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

3. Psoriasis

Is a skin condition that is baffling, unpredictable, and extremely irritating. While the symptoms vary, it is most commonly characterised by raised and thickened red plaque-like or scaly skin and is considered a long-term incurable disease. Smoking has long been linked to this autoimmune system disease (especially heavy smokers) because smoking increases the activity of those genes associated with psoriasis, and smoking suppresses the immune system, depletes calcium storage, and smoking increases oxidative damage (releasing free radicals in cigarette smoke).

4. Eczema (Dermatitis) 

Both  eczema and dermatitis have symptoms of blistering that can weep, and extremely itchy thickened skin. While the exact cause of eczema is unknown, allergic reactions are thought to be a major culprit. Cigarettes contain over 400 harmful toxins, chemicals that could cause the allergic skin reactions common to both dermatitis and eczema, such as:

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  • Nicotine – A stimulant drug also used as a natural pesticide
  • Ammonia – A strong cleaning agent
  • Butane – Lighter fluid
  • Methanol – Rocket fuel
  • Tar – Used as a road cover
  • Formaldehyde – An industrial fungicide and used to make building materials
  • Arsenic – An extremely poisonous product used in industrial applications
  • Carbon monoxide – Car exhaust
  • Hydrogen cyanide – Used for fumigation
  • Cadmium – A heavy metal which is used in batteries


Even if tobacco is not a direct cause, smoking certainly restricts the blood flow to the body due to the narrowing of veins and arteries - which slows down the ability to heal from eczema. There are more than four ways smoking can damage your skin so Quitting Smoking is  a viable solution to preventing or lessing skin damage, and a first step (after deciding to quit) is knowing what triggers are motivating the underlying desire to smoke.