Save the smoke, spare your skin

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Smoking damage may not be visible now but it will show as you age

Smoking damage.Indian Link

Let me state at the outset that this article is not about whether you should smoke or not – that choice is entirely our own. At the same time, it is important that we make informed choices. This article, then, is an objective take on the cosmetic impacts of smoking, about what it does to your appearance, based on other readings, and personal observations and opinions of friends who smoke and those who were able to give it up.

What smoking does to your appearance

When you smoke, your skin will reflect the damage first. Most women tend to crinkle their eyes when they draw in the smoke, which leads to crow’s feet – and very prominent ones at that! Also, pursing the lips to hold the cigarette as you draw on it causes fine lines in the area above the upper lip and in the words of my smoker friends, no amount of anti-ageing or anti-wrinkle creams can make those smoking damage lines go away.

As you exhale, the smoke usually floats around very close to your face, which has a drying impact on the skin, more so if you smoke a lot. Further, since smoking constricts the blood vessels, which causes lung and throat cancer in the long run, these narrowed blood vessels are unable to supply the requisite amount of blood, oxygen and essential nutrients to the skin. The skin then appears dull and grey making the person look older too. Not only does smoking damage our skin but it also weakens the texture of our hair giving it a dull appearance.

smoking damage.Indian Link

Some research has also shown that when a person smokes regularly, the body produces an enzyme that breaks down the collagen in the skin. This makes the skin sag and lose its elasticity, in turn, making us look older. Research has also shown that women who are heavy smokers are more prone to acne attacks and a blemish or a scar on their skin takes longer to heal.

For those who have been smoking since they were in their 20s or 30s, the damage may not be visible right away. But it all adds up and the condition of the skin deteriorates rapidly, adding yet another twenty years to a 40-year-old. Smoking also results in a gaunt appearance for those on the thinner side.

Other cosmetic effects of smoking include halitosis or bad breath, and chewing peppermint gum does not mask the rancid breath that usually surrounds a heavy smoker. This can be a real put-off in day-to-day social interactions affecting one’s personal image. If that wasn’t bad enough, smoking also stains the teeth, so if your bad breath has not driven away a potential date, the tobacco stains on your pearly whites definitely will. Besides, tobacco is also known to weaken the gums, which could result in loss of teeth. This applies to tooth implants as well.

smoking damage teeth.Indian Link

While the recent ban on outdoor smoking in NSW attempts to curb passive smoking and gory images on cigarette packs continue to reiterate the harmful impacts of smoking, people still find it difficult to give it up. But it helps to be aware of the damage it can cause. That said, there may be a few lucky ones, chain smokers at that, who are blessed with a naturally glowing complexion. The less fortunate ones, however, are stuck with sagging skin, a gruff voice, bad teeth and lacklustre hair.

If you are one of the lucky ones, and cannot bring yourself to give up smoking, it is imperative that you then maintain a very strict skin and hair care regimen that will at least delay and minimise the damage. The ideal solution of course would be to quit smoking altogether, detox your body and find other avenues of relaxing, that do not involve tobacco.

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Minnal is a senior writer and editor. Her forte is lifestyle journalism, art, food, beauty and travel writing
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