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Written by  Anabel De La Vega, certified license specialist and author of TAO – The Art of Relaxation

Cigarette smoke contains carbon monoxide, which displaces the oxygen in the skin. The nicotine reduces blood flow and leaves the skin dry. Nicotine depletes vitamin C, which helps to protect and repair the skin. Smoking can have a huge impact on a person’s complexion. It leads to lack of oxygen, big bags under eyes, premature aging, and wrinkles. It also makes the skin look sallow and ashy.

The intensity of the damage caused from smoking and its effects on the skin constricts blood vessels in the outer layer of the skin.

Since blood is not flowing properly to the outer layer of the skin, it is prone to have broken capillaries, which can cause dark scarring and hyperpigmentation of the face in different areas.

Lips darken due to constant exposure to fire used to light a cigarette. They also show signs of aging quicker around the mouth, making the lips dry and coarse.

The presence of nicotine in the blood causes cuts and wounds on the skin to heal at a much slower pace with an increased risk of infection, blood clots, and formation of dead tissue. Smoking makes the skin thinner and prone to diseases such as psoriasis, and also affects the immune system.

Smoking can cause skin cancer, oral diseases, and tooth decay. Nicotine receptors are expressed in the skin on keratinocytes, fibroblasts, and blood vessels. Nicotine induces vasoconstriction that is associated with local hyperemia. It also induces inflammation through effects on the central peripheral nervous system and direct effect on immune cells.

Smoking can also lead to block arteries, not only damaging the heart, but also increasing the risk of arteriosclerosis.

Higher concentrations of melanin can be suppressed by the use of nicotine (dependence related to carcinogens and skin diseases). Smoker’s melanosis is seen as a brown-to-black pigmentation of the oral tissue. This is severe damage to the mouth that links with skin problems, severe dryness, and depleted collagen and elastin breakdown. Smoking causes oxidative stress, so that insufficient oxygen is supplied to the skin, resulting in tissue ischemia and blood vessel occlusion. Chronic smokers also experience hair loss, severe skin problems, and rosacea.

Eating healthily will restore new cells in the skin. Foods containing vitamins A and C will help protect the skin from free radicals.

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