The Wrinkles in the Face of a Smoker

Cigarettes contain toxic substances that compromise skin health, so the face of a smoker tends to reveal premature aging, together with blemishes and other imperfections.
The Wrinkles in the Face of a Smoker
Maria del Carmen Hernandez

Written and verified by the dermatologist Maria del Carmen Hernandez.

Last update: 26 May, 2022

The wrinkles in the face of a smoker are different from those who don’t smoke. Smoking inevitably harms the skin, both directly and indirectly. But what does this mean, exactly?

Well, the direct effects are due to the contact of the smoke with the skin. Meanwhile, the indirect effects appear as a consequence of the toxic substances that travel through the bloodstream after inhaling them.

Apart from being a harmful habit for your health, smoking produces changes in the nails, teeth, hair, and, above all, in the skin. In particular, it accelerates the process of aging, as it increases exposure to free radicals.

How does smoking affect the body?

A person who smokes introduces tar into their body (related to the development of cancer), carbon monoxide, nicotine, and irritating substances (responsible for many respiratory diseases) into their body.

A large number of free radicals alter the balance between elastase and its major regulator, the alpha 1-proteinase inhibitor (cell membrane regulator). It leads to a decrease in collagen production by breaking down the elastic fibers that support the skin and give it its strength.

This lack of collagen leads to skin dehydration and thus, loss of volume and smoothness that begins to wrinkle shortly after. Because of this, wrinkles in smokers are more visible than those of people who don’t. In addition, they happen way earlier than they should.

The carbon monoxide present in smoke leads to the cells not carrying out their functions as they should. This is because it limits the capacity to transport oxygen through the blood, making it difficult for it to reach the skin. Consequently, this substance also increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Nicotine also leads to vasoconstriction and a decrease in peripheral circulation. In turn, this chronic ischemia leads to low vitamin A levels. Also, nicotine is an addictive substance.

A person smoking.
Cigarettes contain toxic substances that increase cellular aging. As a result, the skin deteriorates and the body develops diseases.

Did you know that Smoking Tobacco Damages the Oral Cavity?

The wrinkles in the face of a smoker

The toxic compounds in tobacco aren’t only harmful to your health but negatively affect the appearance of the skin. New wrinkles, acceleration of the aging process, and lack of radiance (dehydration and dullness) begin to happen. Smoking also leads to the appearance of spots on the face and around the fingers.

The wrinkles in the face of a smoker are deeper, narrower, and more visible in certain areas. In addition, wrinkles around the eyes (crow’s feet) and around the lips (vertical upper lines) are also evident. A large number of these wrinkles concentrate in these areas and are noticeably deep.

Furthermore, the skin color of smokers is different from that of non-smokers. For one, it isn’t pinkish as healthy skin but paler, kind of grayish-yellow.

All these manifestations tend to be more noticeable after the age of 35. The incidence on the skin is directly proportional to the degree of smoking. Know that it also affects second-hand smokers.

A woman looking in the mirror.
The skin of smokers not only tends to age prematurely but also promotes brown spots and turns pale.

Read more about how to Kick The Habit: Nine Good Reasons To Stop Smoking

Recommendations to deter the effects of smoking

  • The main thing you can do is quit smoking, for obvious reasons.
  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet that contains antioxidants, vitamin C, and trace elements such as iron, iodine, manganese, etc. specifically. In addition, eat more foods high in flavonoids — such as green leafy vegetables.
  • Adopt a daily skin cleansing routine and stick to it.
  • Exfoliate the skin once every 15 days to remove dead skin cells and stimulate its renewal.
  • Undergo antioxidant and anti-aging lip treatments — there are masks for this purpose.
  • Use sunscreen as there’s some evidence that skin aging accelerates with the combination of smoking and sun exposure.

The wrinkles in the face of a smoker are quite inevitable

The toxins contained in tobacco not only have an impact on the appearance of diseases but also affect the health of the skin. As a result, wrinkles in smokers appear earlier and tend to be more pronounced.

Try to give up this habit to bypass these consequences. In addition, try to adopt a skincare routine that includes the daily use of sunscreen.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Just-Sarobé M. Hábito de fumar y piel [Smoking and the skin]. Actas Dermosifiliogr. 2008;99(3):173‐184.
  • Morita A. Tobacco smoke causes premature skin aging. J Dermatol Sci. 2007;48(3):169‐175. doi:10.1016/j.jdermsci.2007.06.015
  • Ortiz A, Grando SA. Smoking and the skin. Int J Dermatol. 2012;51(3):250‐262. doi:10.1111/j.1365-4632.2011.05205.x
  • Metelitsa AI, Lauzon GJ. Tobacco and the skin. Clin Dermatol. 2010;28(4):384‐390. doi:10.1016/j.clindermatol.2010.03.021

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.