We have been raised to believe that vices are the bane of society. Money, greed and arrogance are some of the ones that we can name off the top of our head, but something that slips from the mind is the act of puffing on a cigarette. It is such a common day occurrence that it no longer draws surprise when someone admits they are on a first-name basis with Malboro.
We have all had friends who swear by their daily dosage of nicotine to keep them sane, especially since it allows them to take a breather from the high-octane, but high-stress atmosphere of the workplace. Admittedly, it offers temporary respite, but that comes at a heavy cost to the smoker and the people around them. Even if we are not knuckling down on the health drawbacks that come with smoking, having a fag (even the occasional one) is known to cause lasting damage and weigh heavy on your skin.
Poor Skin Tone
A tell-tale sign of chronic smokers is the uneven skin tone that they wear as compared to other non-smokers. Some may find their skin tone much closer to orange or even grey, due to the chemicals in tobacco. Before that even happens, the first to take its leave is the natural glow that smokers might have long forgotten about.
This comes from the carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke that sticks to the red blood cells for hours long after your last cigarette. Considering how there is only room for one, carbon monoxide stops oxygen from attaching to your muscles and organs, like your skin.
Let’s not forget the vascular constriction that smoking brings to the table as well. If you would allow us to get a bit deeper, the nicotine in cigarettes causes the body to let loose its own stores of fat and cholesterol, and with the help of carbon monoxide in cigarettes, that fat sticks to the arteries, constricting blood flow around the body. No surprises here, this impairment of oxygen-rich blood would cause your skin to be deprived of its healthy glow, among other serious health consequences.
If that still doesn’t drive the point home, smokers are thrice as likely than non-smokers to develop squamous cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer that is the second most common out there. This statistic is incredibly real and should be a strong reminder on its own.
Each puff of cigarette that you take in welcomes over 4,000 chemicals into your body and these chemicals have been known to go on an unstoppable path of destruction under your skin. Over time, the damage inflicted onto your skin’s collagen and elastin will be made apparent on the surface, since these fibres that promise strength and elasticity to your overall appearance will be damaged.
Ever spotted smokers with deeper wrinkles and sagging skin? That is not a sign of old age but an insight on the stress smoking places on the human body. In lighting up a cigarette, the heat from the burning tobacco and the regular squinting when smoke swirls around your eyes would inevitably cause visible crow’s feet, wrinkly lines that happen on the outlines of your eyes.
Dark Eye Circles
Do not be hoodwinked into thinking the restlessness you are feeling after a full eight hours of beauty sleep is the cause of a poor sleeping posture. If you are a smoker, chances are it’s your nicotine withdrawal in the night that is keeping you up. When the body craves for a hit of the addictive chemical, it causes you to toss and turn until you light up.
This insomnia in the night causes the blood vessels under your eyes to dilate, creating a dark tint around your eyes that grows in prominence over time.
As mentioned, those toxic chemicals in cigarettes that we have been speaking about also deplete the antioxidants in your body and produce more free radicals. With less antioxidants to fight against the free radicals and the marked increase in the number of free radicals, your skin cells would be at their mercy and find it much harder to recover when they are damaged. On your skin, this would show up as dark unsightly patches of discolouration that would increase as you smoke.
Due to the lack of indoor smoking spots, stepping out for a quick puff would mean having to find a shelter away from the constant ray of sunshine. Most of the time, finding a shaded open area is hardly the case. This exposure to the sun, in particular the UVA rays, would cause your pigment cells to churn out melanin, which shows up as patchy dark spots. If you are not in the habit of wearing UVA-shielding sunscreen, those frequent trips outdoors would leave a mark in time.
Time for Change
The movies have portrayed smoking as a casual act that reeks of coolness. In your head, you might have just come up with the mental imagery of smokers in their fashionable leather jackets with a stick in hand. Before your friends ask for “just one puff”, nudge them in the arm and have them look in the mirror at the lasting imprints that smoking has left.