How smoking ages the skin – the facts from the British Skin Foundation


London: Nina Goad of the British Skin Foundation gives you the facts on how smoking prematurely ages skin:

“Cigarette smoking has long been associated with increased risk of many health problems including lung disease and cancer, heart attacks and stroke, but strong evidence now exists linking cigarette smoke to premature ageing.

In addition to UV light from sun and sunbeds, cigarette smoke is a main environmental factor that causes changes in the skin often associated with “looking old” such as coarse wrinkling and a sallow, leathery texture.

The hypothesis that creases around the eyes and mouth and hollows in the cheeks are caused by the repetitive movement of drawing on a cigarette is a simplistic one, but there is strong evidence suggesting cigarette smoke has a negative effect on the appearance of skin.

Smoking enhances an enzyme in the skin, matrix metalloproteinase-1, resulting in increased collagen breakdown and diminished collagen production. The overall effect causes wrinkling and inelasticity. In addition the constriction of tiny blood vessels in the skin caused by smoking reduces the oxygen supply to the skin negatively affecting skin health and appearance in general. Long term nicotine exposure can also cause an unattractive yellowing of fingernails.

If the overwhelming health warnings are not enough to motivate smoking cessation, perhaps vanity and the threat of looking old prematurely will.”

For more advice on giving up smoking visit