What happens to your skin when you quit smoking? – Stop smoking skin benefits

Written by: John Dicey | Last updated: 23 Dec 20

Reviewed by: Paul Baker

Skin benefits of stopping smoking

We’re often asked the question, “Does smoking affect your skin?”, and our answer is always gratefully received. When you stop smoking you can expect an almost immediate improvement in the way your skin looks and feels – in other words there is a significant and noticeable skin improvement after quitting smoking.

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How does smoking affect your skin, face and appearance?

The harm that smoking causes to our skin seems the least of the evils when compared to heart disease or lung cancer, but it is often one of the first tangible signs that smoking is causing you harm.

The signs often show as early as the smoker’s mid-20s – but the great news is that if you quit smoking – your skin begins to repair itself almost immediately – but the later you leave it to quit – the more irreversible the affects might be.

Smoking bombards your entire body with a long list of harmful, toxic chemicals including carbon monoxide, cyanide, tar, and formaldehyde – the impact of which starves your body of oxygen, vitamins and nutrients. This affects every organ of the body – as well as the skin.

Nicotine also reduces blood flow to the lower living layer of skin, or dermis, which results in less oxygen being delivered. Skin becomes grey and sallow and the cell production deteriorates, leading to dry, flaky skin that is less resistant to external conditions.

Our skin begins to sag and wrinkle because the body cannot produce collagen effectively. Smoking starves the body of Vitamin C – a key component in the manufacturing of collagen – and interferes with the production of an enzyme called matrix metalloproteinase that regulates collagen production, which leads to skin that is lined and gaunt.

Thinking about how much you distort your face, your lips, cheeks, and eyes as you suck on every mouthful of smoke that you inhale. The sucking on the lips, the wincing of the eyes – no wonder we end up with the tell-tale signs of a smoker; hollow cheeks, crow’s feet and a tired upper lip.

How does quitting smoking improve your skin?

Within hours the skin benefits after quitting smoking begin to occur. Short term quit smoking skin improvement can be seen as your skin colour picks up a little as your circulation improves.

Carbon monoxide levels in your blood drop to normal and within weeks, your skin will be visibly benefiting from increased oxygen and antioxidant levels

Smoking causes smaller blood vessels to shut down (which is why smokers’ skin has a grey complexion).

As your circulation recovers and the level of nutrients and oxygen being delivered to your skin return to normal and you soon recover that healthy glow that you’ve been missing. The body’s ability to repair itself from the skin damage caused by smoking is remarkable – eventually you can end up looking ten years younger than you would as a smoker.

Quit smoking skin improvement timeline

So how long after quitting smoking does skin improve and how long will it take for you to recover your glow, reduce the lines on your face, and get rid of that saggy look below your eyes?

  • Within a day or so

    Skin colour perks up

  • One Week

    Your skin will be visibly benefiting from increased oxygen and antioxidant levels

  • One Month

    You’ll notice significant visible differences in your skin with circulation recovered and normal levels of nutrients and oxygen being delivered to your skin. As skin cells turn over that ever-elusive glow returns.

  • 6 Months

    Having followed a simple skincare regime time will have already smoothed out fine lines, evened out dark spots, and your cheeks will look less hallow as they recover from the constant pouty/sucking action required of smokers.

  • 1 Year+

    It just gets better and better and better and you’ll look 10 years younger.

Final thoughts

Your expectations regarding the level of quit smoking skin improvement you can aspire to should be set high. People will want to know what your skin secret is and how come you look so much younger. It’s one of the many benefits of stopping smoking – especially as many people spend hundreds of pounds a year on skincare products to achieve the effect you’ll achieve simply by stopping smoking.

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