If you’ve been around here for a while, you’ll know that at Sönd, we’re completely non judgmental. We know what it is to have skin that doesn’t necessarily ‘conform’ and we’re all about helping you feel amazing in your best skin.
We talk about a lot of things here that can affect our skin from the things we can’t help, such as our genes and rogue hormones (period acne, we’re looking at you) to the things that we can take steps to change, for example our diet.
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Whilst making changes to our diet can be tricky, potentially even trickier and definitely requiring more willpower, is giving up smoking. As much as we don’t judge, smoking really is up there with the worst lifestyle choices you can make for your skin.
Plus of course, there are other health implications to smoking. So, as we head into October, a lot of people across the UK will be contemplating ‘Stoptober’. Stoptober is the 28-day stop smoking challenge organised by Public Health England. During this time, there’s a real push to help and support those of us who want to give up, but are finding it difficult.
While we all know there are numerous health benefits, it’s not easy to give up smoking. So let’s take a look at how quitting can help our health and how it will do wonders for your skin….
The Health Benefits of Giving Up Smoking
Whether your ‘smoke’ of choice is cigarettes, cigars or a pipe, let’s face it, we know they’re not good for us. Unlike other vices, such as drinking alcohol or eating sugary foods, there’s no ‘safe’ limit. The advice is, don’t start smoking.
Which is perhaps easier said than done, and if you’re here wanting to quit then it’s too late for all those pointless conversations.
But what we can talk about, is all the benefits to your health if you do quit smoking:
- Decreased risk of heart attacks, heart disease and high blood pressure
- Lowered cholesterol
- Prevention of permanent lung damage (scarring within the lungs caused by smoking is irreversible but if you quit before you cause permanent scarring, you will find that your lung function improves)
- Reduced risk of lung infections
- Easier breathing, especially when exercising or exerting yourself Increased fitness
- Decreased risk of developing certain cancers
- A stronger immune system with more protection against illness and disease
- Quicker healing
- Stronger muscles and bones due to an increased level of oxygen travelling around the body
- Better night vision, due to increased oxygen levels getting to the eyes
- A cleaner, fresher, healthier mouth, teeth and gums Improved sense of taste and smell
- Potentially healthier fertility
- Less chance of erectile dysfunction in men
- A better chance of living longer
According to the NHS, the benefits of quitting smoking begin after just 20 minutes. After this time, your pulse rate will be dropping back to normal levels. Presumably, unless you’re a chain smoker, this would happen 20 minutes after any cigarette, not just your last, and would go back to racing mode when you light your next cigarette.
But after eight hours, oxygen levels, that have been reduced by smoking, will be returning to normal and carbon monoxide levels will have reduced by half. After 48 hours of being smoke free, all carbon monoxide will have left your body and your sense of taste and smell will be returning.
Over the next weeks and months, your circulation will improve and your lung function will be recovering. You should notice that any smoke related coughing and wheezing should be disappearing.
Then after a year, your risk of a heart attack will have dropped by 50% and after ten years, your risk of lung cancer will have also reduced by half.
Sounds good, huh? So what about your skin?
How Giving up Cigarettes Helps the Skin
All of those health benefits to quitting the cigarettes are worth the difficulty in actually giving up smoking. But those aside, what about the impact on the outside?
Our skin is our largest organ, and, depending on how we dress, a lot of it is on show. So unlike the effects of smoking on organs such as our heart or lungs, the effects of smoking on our skin are visible.
When we smoke, we’re inhaling a cocktail of toxins. These toxins can damage the proteins in our skin called collagen and elastin. These proteins act as a biological scaffold for our skin to sit on, keeping it plump and youthful.
So if smoking damages collagen and elastin, the first visible signs of smoking damage are fine lines and wrinkles leading to premature ageing. These will be most noticeable around the eyes and mouth.
Inhaling cigarette smoke also means that the blood vessels to our skin become narrowed, meaning that oxygen and essential nutrient supplies are cut off. This can lead to premature ageing and a darkening of the skin, especially around the eyes.
Smoking can also mean that our wound healing capabilities take a knock too. This is down to the narrowing of the blood vessels, meaning that the white blood cells can’t do their job of wound healing properly. Even minor cuts could take weeks to heal, and the risk of scarring is also greater.
Finally, skin conditions such as inflammation, certain types of acne, psoriasis and eczema can become worse due to poor skin health.
So, if we quit, then slowly, our skin can become healthier and more youthful looking. There is no magic potion that will reverse skin damage completely, but your skin will begin to appear brighter and healthier as the blood vessels repair and oxygen levels increase.
In fact, the NHS say that stopping smoking slows down the rapid facial ageing associated with smoking and can reverse the “sallow, lined complexion that smokers often have”. Which sounds good to us!
What Help is Available if I Want to Quit Smoking?
Your GP or pharmacist are a great first port of call if you’d like help to quit smoking. They can provide advice on local support groups and websites, and they can offer patches, medications and chews that can help you deal with your cravings.
The NHS also has useful online resources such as the NHS Smoke Free app and a free personal quit plan.
Remember, nicotine is an addictive drug, and giving it up, either with help or totally cold turkey, is difficult. So don’t be too hard on yourself, and celebrate each day/hour/minute that you resist the urge.
How Can Sönd Help Me?
Here at Sönd, we make skincare products that work. We developed them because we couldn’t find products that respected the needs of stressed out skin, whilst containing gentle, natural ingredients.
If your skin is stressed, or if you’re feeling the stress by giving up smoking, then we’re for you. Try our range of cream cleansers, moisturisers, serums and toners to see how we can support your skin, feed it from the inside and help you get your glow back.
https://www.blf.org.uk/take-action/campaign-with-us/stoptober https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/quit-smoking/ https://www.nhs.uk/better-health/quit-smoking/ https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317956 https://www.verywellmind.com/9-ways-smoking-damages-your-skin-4061299
This article is not meant to treat or diagnose. Please visit your doctor for advice about any health concerns you may have.