Does Smoking Cause Wrinkles? How Smoking Ages Skin

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It’s a well-known fact that smoking can be detrimental to your health. But, did you know that smoking is also a significant cause of premature aging?

Making the choice to stop smoking can benefit your skin in several ways. This article will discuss how smoking contributes to premature wrinkles and how quitting smoking can improve your skin health.

How Does Smoking Cause Wrinkles and Premature Aging?

Tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals that can compromise your skin. By damaging collagen and elastin, smoking can lead to sagging skin and pronounced wrinkles. [R]

Collagen and Elastin Damage

Many cigarette chemicals trigger molecular events that change or injure structures in the skin. Specifically, the chemicals in cigarettes can damage collagen and elastin. These proteins give the skin strength and elasticity while keeping it plump. [R]

Smoke Wrinkles and Smoker’s Cheeks From Cigarettes

Smoker’s cheeks and smoker’s face are terms commonly used to describe facial features that are common in smokers. In fact, in a prospective study, half of the cigarette smokers who had smoked for at least 10 years were identified (using specific criteria) by facial features alone. [R]

effects of smoking

Another study published in PLOS Genetics examined 18,000 traits to identify individuals who may have been impacted by heavy smoking. The researchers found that heavy smokers have a higher chance of developing signs of premature aging, including wrinkles. [R]

Smokers face can include features such as:

  • Deep creases and fine lines on the cheeks
  • “Smokers wrinkles”, which are small vertical lines that run across the lips and the skin above the upper lip
  • Prominent crow’s feet
  • Sunken cheeks
  • A leathery or rough appearance of the skin

It’s also worth noting that repeated lip pursing contributes to lines around the mouth. Smokers frequently purse their lips around cigarettes or e-cigarettes, which folds the skin around the lips. This can add premature wrinkles around the mouth over time.

How Does Nicotine Cause Wrinkles and Make You Look Older?

Nicotine is the main active ingredient in tobacco. Found in cigarettes, nicotine causes the body to release more adrenaline, which has a “feel good” effect. It’s both physically and emotionally addictive. [R]

Diminished Wound Healing and Blood Flow

Nicotine has several negative health effects that can sabotage your skin. It works as a vasoconstrictor, reducing oxygen flow to your skin and other tissues.

consequences of smoking

Along with reduced oxygen flow, nicotine diminishes the flow of vital nutrients to the skin. This inhibits the skin’s natural healing process and causes a decreased ability to repair wounds.

Nicotine’s effects as a vasoconstrictor speed up the skin aging process. This can lead to wrinkles and fine lines, even early in adulthood. [R]

Does Vaping Cause Wrinkles Like Smoking?

Vaping is often regarded as a safer alternative to cigarettes. This is because they’re thought to contain fewer chemicals than regular cigarettes.

woman vaping

However, this doesn’t mean that vaping is safe by any standard. E-cigarettes heat up nicotine, flavoring, and an array of other chemicals to form an aerosol that you inhale. [R]

Vaping Effects on Face and Skin Health

Whether you smoke cigarettes or e-cigarettes, you’re still breathing in nicotine. So, your skin will still be subject to the consequences of slowed wound healing. [R]

Additionally, the nicotine in vaping liquids is dehydrating for the skin. People who vape may experience very dry skin and, as a result, premature wrinkles.

Quitting Smoking and Skin Complexion Improvement

To steer clear of premature aging and skin damage from smoking, there’s just one true solution: Quit smoking. It’s obviously easier said than done, but stopping smoking will not only reduce your risk for health complications like lung cancer and heart disease, but also help you retain skin elasticity and strength. It will also help you prevent worsening wrinkles, including crow’s feet and lines around the mouth.

beautiful skin

Skin Improvement Before and After Quitting Smoking

After an individual quits smoking, the skin will visibly start to improve over time. Key differences that you may notice after quitting smoking include:

  • Renewed elastin and collagen, which will give your skin a more youthful appearance overall
  • Increased turnover of skin cells, which occurs as blood flow to the skin increases
  • Improved skin tone and a brighter complexion
  • Reduced risk of skin conditions including psoriasis, acne, and skin cancer [R]

Improving the appearance of your skin and reducing significant wrinkling are key motivators for many people aiming to quit smoking.

ALSO READ: Does Alcohol Cause Wrinkles


Will wrinkles from smoking go away?

While wrinkles from smoking may not fully disappear, they’ll likely improve soon after you quit smoking.

Does smoking wrinkle your face?

Yes, smoking can delay wound healing while starving your skin of oxygen and nutrients.

Can you reverse smoking wrinkles?

While you can’t reverse all of the skin damage caused by smoking, you can improve the appearance of wrinkles with a stellar self-care routine. Regular exercise and a healthy diet rich in vitamin A and vitamin C, along with anti-aging skincare products, can help restore your skin. [R]

How long does it take for smoking to cause wrinkles?

As an estimate, smoking 30 cigarettes per day could age the skin by an additional 14 years once you reach age 70. [R]

What do smoking wrinkles look like?

The most common smoking wrinkles are vertical lines above the lips, crow’s feet, and pronounced lines on the cheeks.

What wrinkles do you get from smoking?

Smokers tend to develop wrinkles around the mouth, eyes, and cheeks.

Why does my skin look worse after quitting smoking?

After stopping smoking, individuals often experience nicotine withdrawal. One potential symptom of nicotine withdrawal is acne breakouts.

Does skin tighten after quitting smoking?

Yes, skin can tighten back up to some degree after you stop smoking. Many people notice a dramatic improvement in sagging skin and wrinkles after they stop smoking. [R]

How do you get rid of smokers lines naturally?

After you stop all smoking behaviors, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, using SPF 30 sunscreen, and following an anti-aging skincare routine can all help you naturally eliminate smokers lines.

senior with cigarette

Does vaping make you age faster?

E-cigarettes contain nicotine and other chemicals. So, vaping speeds up the normal aging process. [R]

Is nicotine bad for your skin?

Nicotine is a primary factor in the negative effects of smoking on the skin. It constricts the blood vessels, reducing oxygen flow and slowing down the regeneration of skin cells.

Why does smoking cause wrinkles around mouth, specifically?

Mouth wrinkles from smoking are in part caused by repeatedly pursing the lips. This motion creases the skin, which can lead to permanent lines over time.

How quickly does smoking age you?

Smoking ages the skin over the course of several years. In one study, smoking half a pack of cigarettes a day for 14 years visibly aged one woman when compared to her twin, a non-smoker. The twin who smoked experienced lost skin elasticity and deeper wrinkles. Other factors like unprotected sun exposure can lead to even more significant wrinkling. [R]

Does smoking cause cellulite and lines around the eyes?

Although smoking doesn’t directly lead to cellulite, it can make existing cellulite appear more prominent. [R] Smoking can, however, directly contribute to the development of lines around the eyes.

Does vaping cause acne scars?

Since vaping slows down wound healing, it can reduce your skin’s ability to heal acne scarring on its own.

Does smoking increase my psoriasis risk?

Yes, smoking can increase your risk of developing psoriasis, an inflammatory skin condition. [R]

Which products are used as treatment for smoking lines on the face and body?

Products including dermal fillers, peels, and lasers are commonly used to treat smoking lines. Topical products that stimulate collagen production, such as retinoids, can also help fade smokers wrinkles. [R]

What are the differences between smoker/ non smoker skin?

Non smokers’ skin tends to be brighter, smoother, and more even in tone than smokers skin. This is because smokers experience diminished collagen and elastin production, reduced circulation, slowed wound healing, and reduced skin cell turnover.

What’s the best quit smoking app?

Apps are powerful tools in the journey to quit smoking. Many of the apps available today offer features to curb cravings, offer support, and provide motivation. Among the best apps for quitting smoking behaviors are EasyQuit, Quit Tracker, Kwit, and Get Rich or Die Smoking. [R]

Conclusion: Why Does Smoking Cause Wrinkles?

No matter how you look at it, smoking is a liability to your health, including your skin. Smoking is known to contribute to premature wrinkles, sagging skin, and uneven skin complexion. It also leads to a greater risk of skin conditions, like psoriasis.

Thankfully, your skin can bounce back soon after your ditch smoking for good. As the saying goes, better late than never! So, gather support and utilize the range of resources available to help you stop smoking – your skin will thank you!

Avatar for Megan Foley

Megan has been a freelance writer and editor since 2016. In that time, she’s penned a diverse collection of articles for online publication, with a focus on skincare and beauty. From in-depth product reviews to concise marketing content, Megan is passionate about developing content that informs, entertains, and inspires.