Smoking Impacts Your Appearance
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If you smoke, you already know you need to quit. It’s bad for your heart, lungs, brain, and even your sex life.
But let’s face it: You’d have kicked the habit yesterday if smoking’s ill effects were a bit more obvious. What if each cigarette created a black pockmark on your face, for instance?
Well, smoking does damage your looks. Read on to discover 15 ways smoking is ruining your appearance.
Bags under your eyes
Don’t you hate it when you can’t get a good night’s sleep—and it shows on your face?
If you smoke, you’re four times as likely as nonsmokers to report feeling unrested after a night’s sleep, according to Johns Hopkins study.
Why the lack of shut-eye? It’s possible that nightly nicotine withdrawal could be causing you to toss and turn. And unfortunately, poor sleep doesn’t equal pretty.
To be fair, psoriasis is an autoimmune-related skin condition that can show up even if you never touch a cigarette.
However, if you do smoke, your risk for the scaly skin condition goes up—a lot.
According to a 2007 study, if you puff a pack a day for 10 years or less, psoriasis risk goes up 20%; 11–20 years and your risk is 60% higher; and for those who pass the two-decade mark, the psoriasis risk more than doubles. (Even secondhand smoke during pregnancy or childhood is linked to a higher risk.)
Wouldn’t you love to have a set of dazzling white, Hollywood-like choppers? If you smoke, you can kiss that dream good-bye.
It’s the nicotine and tar in cigarettes that can stain teeth.
So in addition to the escalating costs of buying and smoking your cigs, add in the cost of tooth whitening. A professional procedure to clean your teeth costs an average of $500 to $1,000
Smoking puts you at greater risk for all kinds of dental problems, including oral cancer and gum disease.
In fact, according to a 2005 U.K. study in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology, smokers are up to six times more likely than nonsmokers to develop gum disease, which can lead to tooth loss.
Wouldn’t you rather be doing, well, anything other than sitting in a dentist’s chair?
Premature aging and wrinkles
We can all appreciate a wizened visage—on our favorite nonagenarian that is. Wrinkles look anything but wise when they show up on a relatively young person who smokes.
And show up they will. Experts agree that smoking accelerates aging, so that smokers look 1.4 years older than nonsmokers, on average.
Why the wrinkly face? Smoking hampers the blood supply that keeps skin tissue looking supple and healthy.
The nicotine in cigarette smoke can not only make your teeth (and the walls of your home) brown, but it’s also notorious for staining fingers and nails as well.
If you search the Internet, you can find a number of home remedies, including lemon juice, bleach solutions, and scrubbing with steel wool. Ouch.
Wouldn’t it be easier—and less painful—to just quit?
As if the wrinkly skin wasn’t enough, smoking hurts your hair too. Experts think the toxic chemicals in smoke can damage the DNA in hair follicles and generate cell-damaging free radicals as well.
The end result? Smokers have thinner hair that tends to go gray sooner than nonsmokers. That is, if they have any hair at all.
Men who smoke are about twice as likely to lose their hair as nonsmokers, after taking into account factors that increase the risk of baldness, such as aging and genetics, according to a 2007 study in Taiwan.
Nicotine causes vasoconstriction, a narrowing of the blood vessels that can limit oxygen-rich blood flow to the tiny vessels in the face or other parts of the body.
This means your wounds will take longer to heal and you’ll have scars that are bigger and redder than you would in a nonsmoking parallel universe.
Natural glow is gone
Ever notice how smokers’ skin sometimes seems off? You’re not alone. A 1985 study came up with the term Smoker’s Face to describe certain facial characteristics, such as wrinkles, gauntness, and a gray appearance of the skin, caused by smoking.
Cigarette smoke contains carbon monoxide, which displaces the oxygen in your skin, and nicotine, which reduces blood flow, leaving skin dry and discolored. Cigarette smoking also depletes many nutrients, including vitamin C, which helps protect and repair skin damage.
Several studies have found that smokers do not heal as well after surgeries such as face-lifts, tooth extractions, and periodontal procedures.
So once cigarettes wrinkle up your face, you’ll have a harder time correcting the damage with cosmetic surgery than people who’ve never smoked. (And your surgeon might not even perform the procedure until you agree to kick the habit.)
For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, smokers are more susceptible to infection with human papillomavirus, a large family of viruses that can cause warts—including genital warts.
While genital warts are caused by sexually transmitted types of HPV, smoking is also a risk factor. Even taking the number of sex partners into account, women who smoke are nearly four times as likely to have genital warts as nonsmokers, according to one study.
Smoking is a leading cause of cancer, including lung, throat, mouth, and esophageal cancer, so it should be no surprise that cigarettes can also increase your risk of skin cancer.
In fact, according to a 2001 study, smokers are three times as likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma, the second most common type of skin cancer, than nonsmokers.
The nicotine found in cigarettes damages the fibers and connective tissue in your skin, causing it to lose elasticity and strength.
Stretch marks, red skin striations that can gradually fade to a silvery hue, form when you gain weight rapidly. Anyone can get stretch marks with rapid weight gain (such as in pregnancy), but cigarettes can be a contributing factor.
Cigarettes can be an appetite suppressant, and often smokers have a lower body weight than nonsmokers. However, a 2009 study in the Netherlands found that smokers had more visceral fat than nonsmokers.
This deep fat pads internal organs and can accumulate in your midsection, ultimately increasing the risk of other diseases, such as diabetes.
More than half of Americans will have developed some degree of cataracts by age 80. Cigarette smoking can increase the risk of cataracts by putting oxidative stress on the lens of the eye.
In fact, continued smoking can add up to a 22% increased risk of cataract extraction, according to one study. And it’s not too late to quit—the amount of cigarettes smoked was a more important risk factor than how long someone smoked.