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Get Serious With Clients About Smoking

By: Barbara Salomone
Posted: December 1, 2011, from the December 2011 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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Smoking chokes skin. The fountain of youth is in the bloodstream, but smoking cigarettes causes a restriction of the blood vessels, “choking” them, which then reduces blood supply to the skin. This results in a reduction in oxygen, which is necessary for cell regeneration and the ability to carry away damaging free radicals, so toxins build up and accelerate aging.

Even smoking a single cigarette can result in vasoconstriction for up to 90 minutes. Smoking for 10 minutes decreases tissue oxygen for almost an hour.1 That means a pack-a-day smoker will have skin with a reduced oxygen supply for most of the day.

Smoking thins skin. A recent British study focused on 25 pairs of identical twins, one a lifetime smoker and one who never smoked. Using an ultrasound to gauge skin thickness, the smokers’ skin was 25% thinner than the nonsmokers’, and was as much as 40% thinner in a few of the cases.2

Smoking destroys skin’s collagen and elastin. The appearance of wrinkles and loose or sagging skin is caused by the destruction of collagen and elastin—complex structural proteins that are necessary to keep skin firm, elastic and strong. Smoking robs skin of vitamin C, which is necessary for collagen production, and keeps skin soft and revitalized. It also interrupts the production of the matrix metalloproteinase enzyme, which regulates collagen production.

Smoking causes vertical lines around the mouth. When smokers take a puff from a cigarette, it forces the lips to pucker and form the same lines around the mouth over and over again. Throughout time, these contractions become permanent wrinkles. Pucker lines are a dead giveaway that someone is a smoker.