Besides excessive and careless exposure to the sun, smoking appears as one of the main causes of wrinkles. “The very muscle contraction made in the act of swallowing creates lines of expression”, says dermatologist Bruna Felix, coordinator of the department of cosmetics at the Brazilian Society of Dermatology. In addition, the substances present in cigarettes promote the release of free radicals, responsible for cell ageing. To alleviate the damage, the specialist recommends treatments with collagen and hyaluronic acid, but just quitting smoking causes the negative effects to be neutralized.
According to the chairman of the SBPT smoking commission, for reasons not yet fully understood, nicotine causes vessels to contract, reducing blood flow. “This means that the tissues will receive less oxygen, which can damage the skin’s elastic fibres, impairing collagen synthesis “, says Alberto. As collagen is one of the main responsible for the skin’s elasticity, smokers generally have tighter and drier skin. In addition, the substances present in cigarettes also hinder the production of elastin, a protein that supports the skin. This further contributes to the thickened appearance of the skin.
A very striking feature, especially of those who smoke for a long time, are the yellow or dark teeth. According to dentist Rodrigo Bueno de Moraes, scientific consultant at the Brazilian Dental Association (ABO), nicotine and tar, among other substances present in tobacco, adhere to teeth in a cumulative way. “With this, with each drag, the smoker deposits pigments that change the normal color of the teeth, which also varies according to their oral hygiene and the concentration of substances present in the cigarette”, he explains.
Aesthetic damage can be reversed with cleaning, replacement of restorations and other treatments. However, the professional points out that despite being visible and unwanted, this is the least of the oral problems of those who smoke. “Smokers suffer much more from gum disease, dry mouth outbreaks and bad breath,” he warns.
“The impregnation of nicotine and tar, two substances present in cigarettes, even takes place in the nails and fingertips”, says dermatologist Bruna. Although the aged look wears off over time, the process can be sped up with retinoic acid-based treatments. Of course, the change will happen depending on the time and number of cigarettes you smoked.
Cigarettes impair blood flow as a whole, which even affects the hair. This is because the lower blood supply hinders the arrival of nutrients in the bulb, where the hair strands come out. Quitting smoking and maintaining a balanced diet will solve the problem, as hair growth happens very quickly (about one centimetre per month).
With impaired blood circulation, people with a genetic predisposition to dark circles notice the problem worsening after becoming smokers. “With the contraction of the vessels, resulting from the substances present in the cigarette, the entire blood flow is impaired”, says dermatologist Dolores. In addition, as smoking favours the appearance of wrinkles, which become even more evident in areas of the face where the skin is thinner, dark circles are even more prominent. To soften dark circles, it is worth doing local massages, for immediate results, or investing in treatments such as peeling.