Sunday, 13 October 2013


Crow’s feet, premature wrinkles, dark circles, pucker lines, prune-like, leathery, dry, thin, dull, shallow, sallow, saggy, grey and yellow – this is the description of the face of a long-term heavy smoker. If your image is not like this yet, then a polluted transformation to fast-track aging could be facing you in the mirror anytime in the future. The skin quality of some smokers is a testiment to what is happening to their bodies. And whilst cosmetic procedures are available for those who have the funds – just think of the irreparable damage that is done to the body’s cells and organs. Smokers age more rapidly on both the inside and outside; and scientific studies prove that smokers can have rapid aging of the body, particularly their facial skin which results from poor oxygenation of the tissues and various other related effects. 

The toxins found in cigarette smoke have a devastating impact on the skin, and when skin is exposed to this smoke, free radicals can be generated in a millionth of a second. In large doses these free radicals can break through the membrane that protects the skin’s cells and cause inflammation, visible lines and wrinkles as well as other damage. What most smokers do not realize, is that just like sun damage, it can take many years to reflect on the skin.

Consistently smoking throughout your 20s or 30s can add 10 to 15 years to your looks, and the irony is it may only surface in your 40s. Nicotine and tar decreases the circulation to the entire body, including the skin; this forces the blood vessels to narrow in the outer layers which reduces the amount of vital oxygen and nutrients required to keep it healthy and looking good. And this “looking good” is also dependant on the DNA – the cell’s genetic material which can become jumbled by excessive free radical damage, creating poor unhealthy cell duplication. And this is not the only problem - as people age, they are subject to cell degeneration. So logical thinking would be that if you care about your looks, you should not want to continue to smoke. 

Puffing away and pursing the lips year in and year out creates pucker lines and wrinkles on the upper lip and the surrounding area. Repeated sucking on cigarettes can develop hollow cheeks and squinting in smoke generates crow’s feet around the delicate eye area, where the skin is very thin. And because the blood vessels are constricted, the skin's cells do not receive an optimum supply of blood. This means that the skin can lose its robust texture and radiant colour, and that a blue tinge can develop under the eyes. Also there seems to be evidence that smoking may activate the genes responsible for a skin enzyme that breaks down collagen. The collagen (which can suffer a 40% drop in production), along with elastin, form the skin’s protein which both support and generate its elasticity. – These can become weakened and permanently damaged through free radical destruction. Once the collagen molecules are damaged in this way they become stiff and inflexible (cross-linked), and are unable to slide freely over one another, or spring back when stretched, as in healthy skin. And it is this process that leads to the “wrinkled–up” prematurely-aged look which affects the entire body. 

Smoking also diminishes the body’s supply of vitamin C, zinc, and bioflavonoids, all of which are fundamental to the formation of new collagen. - Taking a good quality collagen supplement, such as the one at the Amazon link at the top of the page, is (subject to any contra-indications), highly recommended.  Proper nutrition and waste elimination within the skin’s cells become compromised, muscles weaken, and the firmness of a well-toned defined visage becomes something of the past. Smokers may also suffer with blackheads because the decreased collagen dilates the pores. In smokers and non-smokers alike, the skin’s ability to replace damaged collagen decreases with age; and a poor nutritional status including diets high in glycemic carbohydrates and sugar, UV and other environmental damage, certain age-related hormonal changes and stress, all take their toll. – Smoking heavily adds to the long list of negative factors. 

On a far more hazardous note, smokers are subject to much higher rates of skin cancers than non-smokers, and their skin also takes longer to heal. This is because when the skin is trying to repair itself from a cut, it requires more oxygen and nutrients than it would normally. The skin’s prime source of nourishment is from the inside, so your nutritional status plays a major role in the condition of your skin. Youthful skin means a healthy well-balanced diet, good absorption capability, lack of toxicity, and maintaining an optimum intake of water, as explained in my book "The Winning Way to Quit Smoking". Most of the water that gives the skin a healthful look is deposited in the deep layers of the dermis (the skin or connective tissue just beneath the epidermis which is the skin’s surface); and the hypodermis (the layer of fatty tissue below the dermis). - And just as smokers can be easily recognized, so can insufficient water drinkers. 

This is a popular skin polishing technique which uses micro-particles to remove the top layer of dead skin to give it a smoother, brighter, more youthful appearance. It could even help to remove the yellow stain on smokers’ fingers. It is usually carried out by a dermatologist, registered beauty therapist or a medical beauty specialist. The technique is moderate compared with far deeper techniques using dermabrasion which should only be administered by a registered medical physician, with experience in this field. Winter is the best time of year to have a course of treatments, and a sun block must always be applied during that time. 

Antioxidant protection from both the inside and the outside is the way to go with optimum skincare. Nutrition plays a crucial role in minimizing free radical damage, and supplements form an important part of this. After the age of 30, there appears to be a sharp decrease in the quantity of ingested vitamins that actually reach the skin, so a healthful diet and supplementation will address this issue. A general profile of nutrients, and protein powder, along with an additional supplement of collagen and hyaluronic acid could be of benefit. Note: Always consult you medical physician prior to taking any supplements, as you may have contraindications including certain diseases, be on certain medication, or be pregnant or lactating. The topical application of vitamins to nourish the skin through oils, creams, lotions and serums can all be of great benefit in improving and maintaining a fantastic skin. 

It is not necessary to buy the designer labels, where the packaging is frequently more valuable than the product itself. Often, the people spending exorbitant amounts on tubs of designer cream could have had better results if they had applied inexpensive freshly produced organic oil, or used a plain cream and just added a drop of essential oil, such as lavender or patchouli. There is now increasing scientific evidence immerging that up to 60% of everything we put on our skin is absorbed into the blood stream, so try to go for organic products and ones without a plethora of chemical ingredients. 

Using a skin exfoliant at home once a week can help to speed cell turnover, which starts to decrease at a young age. This will assist in keeping the skin in good condition, and will also increase the absorption of moisturisers and oils. During the day a moisturiser with a UVA/UVB filter with the minimum of an SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 must be worn all year round if you want to look after and protect your skin. The topical application of recommended products include various carrier oils which you can research, and change from time to time, so that your skin doesn’t just get accustomed to one product. Sweet Almond oil has a light texture and is easily absorbed – it is however, contraindicated if you suffer from a nut allergy. It is bursting with vitamins, minerals, proteins and glucosides, and is suitable for all skin types. 

Argan oil is also easily absorbed and it is perfect for very dry and damaged skin - it has a superb combination of vitamin E and pro-vitamin A. Jojoba oil is balancing, and very good for both dry and oily skin types, and has great anti-inflammatory properties. Peach kernel oil is for mature skins. It has a richer texture than sweet almond oil, and is particularly valuable for dry, sensitive skin. There are also some wonderful pre-blended oils which include various aromatherapy essences. These blends, which you can make yourself, hydrate and nourish the skin, and may, over time, even help to soften facial lines. They can also give you an emotional sense of sereneness, and help you sleep. When using any oil on the face, the best time to put it on is at night. Avoid applying close to the eye area, and leave it on for up to half an hour, and then blot off any residue with a tissue (this stops it blocking the pores which need to breathe). Oils can of course, be used successfully for whole body.

Heat improves absorption, so apply after a bath for the face, or the body as well if you have not used oil in the bath. Try to always purchase your oils in glass bottles, and store in a cool dry place, away from the sun, and in a safe area away from children. Note: if you suffer from a nut allergy only purchase oils which are not originated from nuts. And whilst we are on the subject of aesthetics, it brings us onto the “tobacco smile” – years of tobacco stain build-up which has often left behind the bright healthy smile that smokers have forgotten they had. Fortunately, there is something that can be done about it – a “Hollywood Smile” can be yours, and it can transform the way you look, and really give you a positive self-image – a new you on your way forward! Many dentists offer this straight forward treatment to recharge your smile. It simply involves the application of hydrogen peroxide gel and usually takes about an hour – and after that you will be smiling at everyone! If you want to have further work done, you can go for veneers or crowns. So, you can see the beautiful benefits that quitting will give you on the outside as well as the inside!



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