Cigarette Smoke and Your Skin Barrier: Healing Methods for a More Youthful Glow

by | Apr 14, 2024

Cigarette Smoke

Even though it’s an ill-advised habit, countless people worldwide still indulge in this unhealthy vice. 2023’s fact sheets revealed notes from the CDC indicating that 12 in every 100 Americans still pick up cigarettes on the regular. Yet, recent surveys show that many of these same people fear aging. FOGO, or fear of getting old, is a real fear driven by our knowledge of the unknown and resistance toward the signs of aging, like increased frailty and a worsened appearance.

Despite this, smokers continue a habit that quickly and visibly ages their skin. By damaging the skin barrier, cigarette use causes premature wrinkling and sagging. Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be an inevitable outcome if you smoke. Here’s more on how exactly smoking affects the skin barrier—and the healing methods you can try to recover a more youthful glow.

Cigarette Smoke

Smoking and the skin barrier

Cigarette smoke is the main culprit of skin barrier damage. One study notes that its tobacco content spurs the production of metalloproteinase. This enzyme removes collagen and elastin to weaken the skin barrier. Smoking constricts blood vessels and prevents oxygen and other nutrients from reaching the skin. Aside from making it dry and red, this can slow down how quickly the skin barrier heals itself.

These effects sap hydration from your skin and cause oxidative stress, damaging the skin barrier and resulting in more saggy and wrinkled skin. That’s on top of the repetitive sucking or puffing actions smoking requires, which encourages fine line growth—especially around the mouth.

How to achieve a more youthful glow

Good news for smokers: smoking-related skin barrier damage is reversible. Medical News Today notes you can see skin improvements in as little as four to 12 weeks—and in the long term, appear over 13 years younger! These healing methods can help you achieve these results.

Quit smoking

Quitting will eliminate your exposure to cigarette smoke. You may thus want to start by switching to smoke- and tobacco-free products, like the nicotine pouch, that won’t irritate your skin further. Pouches offer multiple strengths that are great for quitting gradually, as well as various flavors to suit your smoking preferences. This page notes that ZYN’s Wintergreen pouches provide icy bursts that you may enjoy if you usually smoke menthol cigarettes. Meanwhile, you may prefer Rogue’s Tabac pouches if you’ll miss the earthy taste of tobacco.

If you need extra assistance, try prescription medications like varenicline. Sold by Chantix, it prevents you from feeling the pleasurable effects of smoking, so you’re increasingly less motivated to pick up a cigarette. According to this site, it’s imperative that you first talk with your doctor about a starting date and dosages for maximum effectiveness.

Nourish and hydrate

Once you start ridding yourself of cigarette smoke, it’s time to rebuild your damaged skin barrier. Nourish it by eating foods rich in antioxidants and omega fatty acids. These will help your skin retain more moisture and fight off free radicals, allowing your skin barrier to heal and, after it’s recovered, take on those duties once more. Leafy greens like spinach and fatty fruits and fish like avocados and salmon are great options, so try to incorporate more of them into your meals.

More importantly, hydrate. Drinking your daily eight glasses will help you hydrate your skin from within, replacing the moisture you lose when you smoke.

Tailor your skincare routine

You must also hydrate your skin from the outside in. The best way to do that is by tailoring your skincare routine. Use products with ingredients designed to repair and strengthen the skin barrier, such as ceramides, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and peptides.

Glycerin and hyaluronic acid improve the skin barrier’s ability to lock in moisture, while ceramides prevent moisture loss. Meanwhile, our article finds that peptides increase collagen and elastin while reducing inflammation—effectively reversing smoking’s effects on the skin as its barrier heals.

Smoking can impact your skin barrier in ways that prevent you from achieving a youthful glow. Try these healing methods to turn back the clock!

Written by: Cyan Leigh Dacasin

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