When we think about the negative aspects of smoking, and let’s face it there are many, we don’t generally consider how the habit affects our appearance. So in today’s post I’m going to take a closer at how smoking affects the way we look.
Smoking and the Face
The ravages of smoking on the face were first officially recognised in 1985. In this year a study was published in the British Medical Journal. The author of the article was able to recognise smokers, who had smoked for 10 years or more, solely on their facial appearance. The term ‘smoker’s face’ became part of the medical dictionary. The typical smoker’s appearance is caused by several mechanisms:
1. Cigarette smoking results in the constriction of blood vessels in the skin. This causes a reduction in the blood flow to the upper layers of the skin which in turn leads to a reduction in oxygen available to cells.
2. There are 4000 chemicals in tobacco smoke; many of these compounds have toxic affects on cells.
3. Smoking reduces collagen in the skin. Collagen is an integral component of healthy normal skin. Loss of collagen causes premature skin ageing and promotes wrinkle formation.
4. Constantly drawing on a cigarette aids with the formation of ‘pucker lines’ around the lips and especially on the upper lip. Squinting to prevent smoke from getting in the smoker’s eyes also helps in the production of ‘crow’s feet’.
This assault caused, directly and indirectly, by smoking results in a characteristic smoker’s face. Smoker’s often have a slightly grey, pigmented facial appearance. Some features are subtle but noticeable all the same. For instance, a slight gauntness may be present revealing underlying bony contours. The wrinkles produced however are not subtle. They are the most striking aspect of the smoker’s face. They can be shallow or deep but generally numerous and radiating at right angles from the lips and corners of the eyes. The well advance smoker’s face can be described as leathery or rugged.
Smoking doesn’t enhance your dental ware either. Smokers have a tendency to develop brown or yellow stained teeth due to tobacco smoke deposition. Smokers are more likely than non-smokers to develop rotting teeth. Dentistry, cosmetic or otherwise, is never cheap. So unless you are a super model or a rich celeb you may wish to consider quitting, unless you want to sport a brown, snaggle toothed smile.
Smoking has been shown to influence endocrine glands. These glands secrete hormones which have a bearing on body shape. Smokers usually associate their habit with thinness however, smoking also morphs the underlying body shape; smokers tend towards being pot bellied with thin legs. It is thought that the toxins in tobacco alter hormone levels causing an abnormal distribution of fat.
This post should appeal to our vanity. No one wants to knowingly engage in an activity that alters our appearance in a negative way. Smoking has many adverse effects on the way we look. If smoking changes our outside in such a profound way, what is it doing to our insides?