Wanna Flaunt A Healthy Complexion? – Quit Smoking!

Is smoking good for skin

Hey everyone!

So all of us know that cigarette smoke is notoriously carcinogenic and a leading cause of so many health issues. But the latest charge that science has slapped against the nicotine-laced fumes is that they promote pigmentation. Yup, tobacco clouds turn radiant milky complexion into ashy dark skin tone.

Are you gasping in horror already?

According to a recent study published in the journal of International Investigative Dermatology, smoking tobacco promotes and induces skin pigmentation.

Studying the effects of nicotine smoke on skin melanocytes, researchers have found that when human epidermal cells are cultured in a lab with tobacco smoke extract, the pigment cells (melanocytes) grow to a large size and produce more melanin. During the study the melanocyte activity was estimated by measuring Microphthalmia-Associated Transcription Factor (MITF) expressions by real-time PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction).

In the same experiment some melanocytes were irradiated with UVB light (another cause of pigmentation), and a similar production of melanin was observed. The results of this study showed that the MITF expressions are significantly and dose-dependently increased by tobacco smoke extract (similarly to increased doses of UVB).

In simple words tobacco smoke makes your skin grow darker similar to how UV light form sun tans your skin. So if you’re a ciggie or hookah smoker and value your skin tone, it is time to walk away from the habit.

This is not the first study that links the effects of smoking on pigment producing melanocytes. In the past many studies have established the correlation of lip and gum pigmentation with tobacco smoke. But the interesting thing about this current study is that it has precisely shown us the pathways of pigment production and exact measurements of pigment produced in response to tobacco smoke, while comparing nicotine-smoke induced pigmentation to UV induced pigmentation.

Smoking And The Skin


Looking more closely at effects of smoking on skin, we know from the past research that smoking affects our skin in two ways. Firstly, tobacco smoke released into the atmosphere has a drying effect on the skin and secondly, smoking restricts and damages the blood vessels, reducing the amount of blood flowing to the skin. This deprives the skin of oxygen and essential nutrients making it dry, lusterless and ashy in appearance.

As smoking weakens the circulation it increases the risk of infections, hence smokers are also more likely to get spots and acne. Smoking also makes acne more difficult to treat, as skin is permanently compromised.

Studies have also shown that smoking leads to an increased production of an enzyme (Matrix metalloproteinase-1) that breaks down collagen in the skin. Collagen is the main structural protein of the skin; which helps it to stay firm. So the more you smoke, the greater your risk of developing facial sagging and wrinkles.

Linking smoking to faster aging, one study has highlighted that smokers in their 40s develop as many wrinkles as non-smokers in their 60s — that’s like adding 20 years to your current age. Smokers are also more likely to develop hollow cheeks and vertical lines around their mouth through repeated action of sucking on the cigarettes or sheesha.

A smoker’s skin looks unhealthy because the chemicals in cigarette smoke make the skin’s elastic fibers snap more easily, causing the skin to lose its elasticity.

A study from the Medical College of Wisconsin has found that women who smoked a pack of cigarettes or more a day were significantly more likely than non-smokers to have facial hair and experience early menopause and irregular periods. Excess facial hair growth is triggered in women because smoking increases the levels of the male hormone, testosterone.

Smokers are also two to three times more likely to develop psoriasis, a skin condition that causes the skin cells to constantly renew themselves leaving scaly pink patches on the body. Studies say smoking appears to be more strongly associated with psoriasis in women compared to men.

Collateral Damage


They say you play you pay, but while discussing effects of smoking the scary bulletin is the phenomenon of collateral damage that affects the passive smokers — Those who are exposed to secondhand smoke; children, friends, wives, husbands and people around you who end up being at risk, sharing most of the side effects of smoking without indulging in the act. Key message to all those innocent bystanders is, if you value your skin and complexion, not only refrain from smoking yourself, but also stay away from human chimneys polluting public places around you.


The rap sheet of ciggarette smoke in crimes against complexion is getting murkier by the day and next time you light up remember — smoking not only lines your lungs with soot, your body with disease and cancer, but it also pigments your skin swarthy while giving you wrinkles. If you want to look youthful beautiful and bright skinned, stay away from the nicotine pollution.

Are you ready to kick the butt yet?

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Shazia Ali
A certified dermatologist, Skincare guru to the who's who of the Middle East, Dr. Shazia knows the secrets of anti-aging, the insider tips and tricks on how to achieve healthy, beautiful radiant skin and everything in between. Currently the brand Ambasador for University of Westminster, and the head Dermatologist at Tababa Clinics.

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