You may be able to ignore the effect smoking has on your health, but what it does to your skin is visible in the mirror writes Ayesha Muttucumaru
The proven health risks of smoking have been well-documented over the years. Lung cancer, emphysema and coronary heart disease are only a handful of the diseases that smokers are at an increased danger of developing as a result. However, if that’s not enough to deter you or someone you know from smoking, why not also take into account the far more visible damaging effects on your skin? In short, smoking will make you age faster, no matter what anti-ageing cream you put on it.
According to Dermatologist Dr Nick Lowe , “Just one puff of cigarette smoke produces more than a trillion free radicals in our lungs. Smoking narrows the blood vessels and affects the body’s ability to carry oxygen to the skin, causing a dull, yellow skin tinge. It also destroys collagen in the skin, leading to facial sagging.” He adds, “Smoking reduces your body’s ability to store and use vitamin A, which is crucial in protecting skin from damage. If you don’t have enough vitamin A, your skin can become dry, flaky with scars taking longer to heal.”
If you’re in the midst of #Stoptober and trying your best to kick the habit (hats off to you if so) or you’re around someone who is, Dr Lowe has devised six Skin Saving Smoker’s Guidelines to help safeguard your skin against the age-sapping effects of cigarette smoke. While steps can be taken to try and minimise the damage, nothing will be able to fully tackle the problem other than stopping altogether:
1) The closest thing we have as a preventative measure is applying an antioxidant-rich cream, such as our Secret is Out Lifting Day Cream with UVA/UVB Protection, £28, as a layer of protection.
2) Start drinking. Green tea that is. The polyphenols neutralise free radicals from smog, tobacco smoke and other forms of air pollution.
3) Invest in skincare containing Vitamin A, taking it in supplements or eating foods rich in it. This will help maintain and repair skin tissue, leading to blemishes disappearing faster and rough skin smoothing out.
4) Use skincare products that stimulate collagen. The anti-glycation duo found in our Secret is Out Lift & Repair Night Cream , £31, helps to prevent collagen breakdown, whilst collagen peptide Hexpapeptide-9 is proven to help the repair and regeneration of skin cells.
5) Vitamins C + E replace vitamins lost to smoke and smog exposure, also keeping skin moist and hydrated.
6) Use products that stimulate blood flow. Our Cooling Menthol Facial Scrub , £13, helps boost circulation to turn the smoker’s dull into glow.
THE FINAL WORD
According to Dr Lowe, “The best advice regarding smoking and skincare is that if you care about your skin, you need to stop smoking. Smoking is a lifestyle choice. It is one of the easier ‘agers’ to control. Simply STOP.”
We couldn’t agree more. For more information on #Stoptober and the range of tools available to help you achieve a smoke-free future, visit stoptober.smokefree.nhs.uk