Does Vaping Cause Acne? The Skin Side Effects All Vapers Need to Know

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Although e-cigarettes can be traced back to the 1960s, the concept never really took off until the 2000s. Now, almost 20 years later, vaping has become hugely popular, often touted as the safer alternative to smoking cigarettes [1].

In a way, this is true, but that doesn’t mean that vaping is actually safe. Not only are its long-term health risks still relatively unknown, but dermatologists have been noticing that vapers are experiencing a number of skin problems that are very similar to what smokers go through.

Is acne one of them? Here’s what you need to know…

What Does Vaping Do to the Skin?

Many people assume that it’s the tobacco chemicals in conventional cigarettes that lead to issues with skin health. Since vape pens don’t contain tobacco, then surely this means that your skin is safe?

woman experiencing dry skin dilemma

Unfortunately, research shows that this isn’t the case.

Dehydration

Dehydration is extremely common among those who vape. Not only do e-cigarettes dehydrate your body, but your skin quickly dries out too. Both the nicotine and the propylene glycol in e-liquids contribute to this, with the result being devastating for your complexion.

Dehydration gives you a dull, flaky, and uneven complexion, and the lack of water in your skin cells will prevent them from functioning properly.

Accelerated Skin Aging

As mentioned, dehydration affects how your skin cells function. It inhibits everything from cell turnover to collagen production, making it no surprise that the skin then starts to age faster.

However, it gets even worse. Not only does the dehydration from vaping interfere with the rate at which your body produces new collagen and elastin fibers (the two proteins responsible for skin firmness and elasticity), but research shows that nicotine and chemicals, both of which are found in e-cigarettes, play a big role in breaking down existing collagen and elastin [2]. As a result, the skin loses its volume and smoothness, quickly developing fine lines and deeper, ridged wrinkles instead.

Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is an itchy rash that’s caused by the skin coming into contact with something that it’s allergic to. This doesn’t affect all vapers, but reports show a strong link between increasing contact dermatitis cases and vaping.

This is believed to be caused by the nickel that’s used in e-cigarette coils. It not only triggers rashes on the hand that you primarily use to vape, but can also lead to irritations around the mouth and on other parts of the face.

Does Vaping Cause Acne Breakouts?

The connection between vaping and acne isn’t fully understood yet. Anecdotal evidence points in both directions – some have experienced a rise in breakouts after swapping their cigarettes for vaping products, while other people have noticed a dramatic reduction in their acne.

Casual asian woman vaping electronic cigarette at home

Let’s begin by looking at the potential connection between vaping and acne. There’s enough evidence out there to prove that vaping causes dehydration, which may lead some people to believe that this helps to clear up acne. However, dehydration has the opposite effect. Skin that’s severely lacking in water will try to overcompensate for this by producing more oil. As acne-sufferers will know, excessive oil production quickly leads to clogged pores, which are soon followed by breakouts.

Information also shows that vaping slows down wound healing in the skin. This means that acne lesions will take longer to clear, and will be more likely to leave acne scars in their place.

So, how about the people who have noticed their acne improving?

Chances are that they used to be smokers. Compared to a conventional cigarette, along with the 7000 toxins in the smoke it produces [3], vapor isn’t quite so bad. Swapping smoking for vaping will always give the skin a little relief, although things will improve even further if vaping can be avoided too.

What are the Other Side Effects of Vaping?

The other health effects of vaping depend on how often you vape. Light users may experience abdominal pain, eye irritations, coughing, and diarrhea. Vaping in high doses is more serious, leading to high blood pressure, DNA damage, and even lung cancer. Popcorn lung is another common health condition associated with the frequent use of e-cigarettes.

Of course, research in this area is still ongoing. Chances are that many more issues will be found as this continues.

How to Care for Your Skin If You Vape

Skin treatment in sauna using moisturizer cream

If you aren’t yet ready to stop vaping, then start by focusing on hydrating your skin. Hydrating serums and moisturizers are a must, and you should also try to use more skincare products that contain antioxidants and a number of other collagen-building ingredients.

People experiencing an increase in acne breakouts should turn to best over the counter acne treatments. If these don’t help, then speak to your dermatologist for more advice.

FAQs

Does quitting vaping help your skin?

Yes, quitting vaping can really help your skin, especially on your face.

Does quitting vaping cause acne breakouts?

Although quitting vaping itself doesn’t cause acne, the nicotine withdrawal associated with this has been known to trigger acne breakouts.

women smoking cigarettes

Can smoking give you acne?

Just like with vaping, there isn’t a direct link between smoking cigarettes and acne. However, the other ways in which smoking affects your skin can lead to acne breakouts on the face.

Conclusion

If you regularly vape, then you’re right to be concerned about your skin. While vaping doesn’t directly lead to acne breakouts, it harms the skin in a number of ways, and it’s this damage that can then cause acne. There’s really no question about it – while vaping may not be quite as harmful to our bodies as smoking cigarettes, neither are doing you any good. Ideally, try to cut both out of your life – we promise that your skin will thank you!

References

[1] https://academic.oup.com/eurheartj/article/41/28/2612/5875664
[2] https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=227875
[3] https://www.fda.gov/tobacco-products/products-ingredients-components/chemicals-cigarettes-plant-product-puff

About The Author

Avatar for Courtney Randle
Courtney Randle

As someone who had problems with her skin in the past, I’m glad I can help people find what works for there's. All products reviewed are thoroughly tested for quality.