The Skin of a Smoker
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
It seems the obsession with beautiful skin begins long before a little girl even reaches adolescence. Playing with mommy's make-up heralds the beginning of a life-long striving for beauty. Of course, when adolescence does arrive and with it the outbreaks of pimples that accompany hormonal changes, then skin issues move to another level. Young girls are taught that beautiful skin is desirable and pretty - and it is - and that it is important to do what you can to ensure it stays that way.
As we get older, we do whatever we can to stave off the effects of aging skin. The multi-billion dollar cosmetics industry is testimony to the homage we pay to beauty. Skin creams, cleansers, skin peels, and face lifts are but a few of the ways we try to keep ourselves from looking less than perfect. Women will go to almost any length to look younger or at least maintain an appearance of youthfulness. There's nothing wrong with taking good care of our skin, nor is there anything wrong with wanting to look young. We avoid the sun, or if we do go into the sun we apply lots of SPF 40 to protect our skin. However, even with all of the caution and protection, if you're a smoker, your skin will age quickly.
Negating the Hard Work
Regardless how much we know about the dangers of smoking, and even though the numbers of smokers has declined over the years, it is still a very popular, yet deadly habit. The US alone can boast over a million startup smokers a year, even with the decline worldwide. The unfortunate news is that many of these new smokers will be females who won't see the damage done to their skin until it's too late.
Amanda Sandford of Action on Smoking Health said, "For smokers, middle-age starts in their early 30's as the tell-tale wrinkles around the mouth and eyes begin to appear. Young female smokers are likely to be wasting their money on anti-aging face creams if they continue to smoke."
Damage is Worse for Women than Men
The damage caused by smoking is non-partisan - it affects both men and women. But, many bodies of research confirm that women are more seriously affected than men by the damage caused. It is far more difficult for a woman to quit smoking than it is for a man to quit because nicotine is more addictive to women and it is to men. Women smokers are at twice the risk for heart attacks, strokes, and lung cancer and three times the number of women who die of breast cancer die of lung cancer, mostly due to smoking. The number stands at more than 70,000 per year for women victims of lung cancer.
Add to these sad statistics the fact that women suffer much greater damage to their skin as a result of smoking than men do. First coined in 1965, the term Smoker's Face was used in connection with a study done in that year that identified the consistency of people with the smoking habit as having gray, pale and wrinkled skin. It was also noted by the Chief Medical Officer of Great Britain that smoking adds 10 to 20 years to your natural age - an obvious allusion to the effects of smoking and skin damage.
Free Radicals Strike Again
Recent years have introduced us to the awareness of free radicals and the damaging effects they have upon the body. They are set loose by various toxins, including exposure to tobacco smoke, an environmental toxin. When they attack the cells of the skin their erratic behavior causes damage. Blood flow through the capillaries is restricted so nutrients that are necessary for healthy skin are cut off. Free radicals cause a breakdown of collagen through an enzyme that is multiplied and becomes destructive. Vitamins A and C, antioxidants that protect the skin, are not absorbed properly in smokers. Blotchy skin, broken capillaries and dehydration, all caused by smoking, cause wrinkles and flaking.
Although the skin damage caused by smoking is irreversible, by quitting now and using quality skin care products, it is possible to prevent further damage.