the smoking gun
the bottom line
You know it’s bad for your health. But do you know how bad it is for your skin? If you need yet another reason to quit smoking, read on.
first layer: the science
Allow us to get technical for a few minutes. Cigarette smoke contains over 7000 chemicals. 7000! 250 of these are believed to be poisonous, and 70 can cause cancer. One of these is nicotine, a powerful little chemical which is harmful to almost every organ in your body, including your skin. Nicotine is highly addictive – it’s been compared to both cocaine and heroin in terms of its addictive potential. Once it enters your bloodstream, it causes your blood vessels to constrict or shrink – which means that the blood flow to all of your organs decreases. So here’s what can happen to your body when you smoke: your risk of blood clots increases; your arteries tend to form more plaques leading to a higher risk of heart attack and stroke; you may develop ulcers, diarrhea, indigestion, and nausea; your risk of lung disease increases; and your body becomes resistant to insulin, elevating your risk of developing diabetes.
second layer: the skin’s response to nicotine
Nicotine doesn’t limit its badness to our internal organs; it goes after the largest organ on our bodies as well. Remember that nicotine shrinks your blood vessels, so your skin gets less oxygen and hydration, too. Collagen and elastin fibers in our skin take a hit from the chemicals in smoking, which means that our skin ages faster, we form more wrinkles, and we can’t heal wounds as well. Those pesky little lines above your lips? They’re often caused by smoking, and are really, really, really tough to improve even with peels, dermabrasion, fillers, and all of the other invasive stuff on the market today. Your skin’s elasticity takes a hit too – sagging jowls and neck skin are obvious much earlier, and are much worse, in smokers. What about skin cancer? The risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma is at least 50% higher in smokers, and is partially due to the weakened immune system caused by smoking. We mentioned wound healing problems (our founder Dr. Naidu makes patients stop smoking for at least 4 weeks prior to surgery for this reason), but scarring is also worse in smokers. Ever notice tiny little spider vessels on your skin, often close to the nose? These are called telangiectasia, and we see them more often in smokers. Finally, take a look at the skin tone of smokers – it’s often ashen. Smoking decreases the level of oxygen in the skin, making it almost impossible to achieve that healthy “glow” even with the best skincare.
third layer: what about e-cigarettes and vaping?
Although you might be tempted to try e-cigarettes or vaping as alternatives to cigarette smoking, or as a way or weaning off cigarettes, be warned: neither one is risk-free. Both are associated with high levels of nicotine. And we already know that nicotine isn’t good for us.
fourth layer: time to quit
By now we hope we’ve convinced you to re-think your smoking habit. Quitting isn’t easy – you already know this. The good news is that there are so many ways to make the journey to better health and glowing skin a little easier. Start by talking with your physician; he or she will likely have a wealth of resources available to you. Join a support group; you’re probably not the first person to have trouble quitting. And think about that incredible glow waiting just around the corner…
A little plug: anokha makes a few lovelies which can help to hydrate your skin if you’re a smoker, or in the process of quitting. Consider our almond cleansing milk, which combines almond oil and coconut milk, two powerhouse hydrators; and our ayurvedic vata facial oil, which quenches with the oils of almond, sesame, neroli, geranium, and lemon. Vegan, gently fragrant, and sure to lift the spirits.
All this and more at www.anokhaskincare.com .
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