Smoking and the Skin: How Cigarettes Damage your Appearance

You already know that cigarettes are horrible for your health, but are you aware that they are also ruining your appearance? Each time you light up, the chemicals in cigarettes are damaging your skin in many different ways. Cigarettes are one of the top causes of premature aging, second only to the damaging UV rays from the sun.

Premature Aging, Wrinkles, and Saggy Skin

Experts agree that smoking accelerates aging, so that smokers look 1.4 years older than nonsmokers, on average. Cigarettes hamper the blood supply that keeps skin tissue looking supple and healthy and breaks down collagen and elastin.


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. If you do have psoriasis, smoking can also cause psoriasis plaques to flare up.

Under-Eye Circles

Nicotine withdrawal during the night can cause disruptions in sleep, which can make smokers develop dark circles under their eyes.

Yellow Fingers

The nicotine in cigarettes can not only stain your teeth, but it can also cause your fingers and nails to become yellow.


Nicotine can limit oxygen-rich blood flow to the tiny vessels in the face or other parts of the body, which means your injuries will take longer to heal and you’ll have scars that are bigger and redder than you would if you were a nonsmoker.

Poor Skin Tone

Smoking depletes the skin of oxygen and nutrients, which can cause smokers to look pale or even a grey skin tone in heavy smokers.

Deep Lines around the Lips

People who smoke use certain muscles repeatedly around their lips that cause them to have dynamic wrinkles that nonsmokers do not. Second, you have the loss of elasticity. Together, these factors can lead to deep lines around the lips and a puckered appearance of the mouth.

The good news is that if you quit smoking today, some of the improvements to your appearance and overall health will be almost immediate.

Your Local Skin Experts at Forefront Dermatology are here to help

If you have concerns about the health or appearance of your skin, schedule a visit with your local Forefront board-certified dermatologist or esthetician to discuss how we can help.