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How to Repair Skin Damage from Smoking ?

Research has shown that the more a person smokes, the more likely they are to experience premature wrinkling. There are two ways in which the skin becomes damaged by smoke: 

1. Tobacco smoke released into the environment dries the skin’s surface. 

2. Smoking reduces the amount of blood flowing to the skin by constricting blood vessels, thus depleting the skin of oxygen and essential nutrients.

Here are some facts about smoking: 

1. Skin-ageing effects of smoking may be due to increased production of an enzyme that breaks down collagen in the skin and causes it to sag. Collagen is the main structural protein of the skin which maintains elasticity. Over time, as collagen is reduced, squinting in response to the irritating nature of the smoke and the puckering of the mouth when drawing on a cigarette causes wrinkling around the eyes (known as Crow’s feet) and mouth.

2. Tobacco smoke contains over 4000 chemicals. At least 50 are known to cause cancer, including: formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide and benzene.

3. Smokers in their 40s often have as many facial wrinkles as non-smokers in their 60s. Skin damage caused by smoking may not be immediately visible to the naked eye, but is still happening, and can start to be detected in one’s 20s or 30s. Heavy smokers are nearly five times more likely to be wrinkled than non-smokers.

4. There is evidence that tobacco smoke is phototoxic Smoke becomes more toxic in the presence of ultraviolet (UV), such as is found in sunlight, and causes more damage to skin cells than either smoke or UV would cause on their own.

5. Fibroblasts (collagen-making dermal cells) produce 40% less collagen when exposed to tobacco smoke.

6. Lipid Peroxide (released in cigarette smoke) is the main free radical that destroys skin’s barrier, resulting in dry, parched skin.

7. Smoking impairs wound healing, delaying recovery and increasing complications. Although this occurs with all types of surgery, some plastic surgeons have been known to decline to perform cosmetic surgeries on patients who refuse to quit smoking.

8. Smoking can make people more prone to acne and delay the healing of blemishes. Women, in particular, have been found to have more frequent and severe acne, which worsens the more they smoke. Smoking is also considered a trigger for acne inversa, a chronic inflammatory skin disease that can be quite disfiguring.

9. Vitamin C decreases in the skin and body with tobacco/cigarette smoke.In addition, smokers may develop hollow cheeks through repeated sucking on cigarettes: this is particularly noticeable in under-weight smokers and can cause smokers to look gaunt.

10. The eye area is the most affected area, due to collagen damage.

11. Smokers tend to have blackheads that appear on the tops of the cheeks, sides of the nose, upper lip and forehead from where the cigarette smoke accumulates. They are generally larger due to oxidation from free radicals in smoke. These characteristics collectively give a person a "smoker’s face”.

12. Tobacco smoke exposure increases the risk of developing psoriasis, a rare skin condition characterised by the formation of silvery, plaque-like scales on the arms and legs (particularly at the elbows and knees). Smokers with psoriasis are less likely than non-smokers to improve following treatment.

So What Can You Do to Prevent Further Damage and Premature Skin Ageing?

1. Stop Smoking - Within six weeks the skin will be visibly benefiting from increased oxygen and antioxidant levels.

2. Use a broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB) sunscreen to stop the sun destroying any more collagen that your now smoke-free body is producing. ENVIRON'S Rad Suncream is SPF 15

3. Use a face cream e.g. creams from ENVIRON'S Ionzyme range that will provide your skin with antioxidants and peptides  -  Vitamin A to speed up skin-cell turnover, Vitamin C to stimulate collagen production and Vitamin E to encourage healing. Peptides will signal to your brain that more collagen needs to be produced.

4. Take a fish-oil supplement with a high concentration of omega-3 to reduce inflammation, promote healing and aid moisture-retention in the dermis. 

5. Take gentle exercise to oxygenate the skin's surface.

6. Exfoliate twice a week - it sloughs away dead skin cells and sends messages to the brain to produce more collagen. ENVIRON'S Intensive Revival Masque is a good choice. 

7. If wrinkles are visible, try a laser treatment or a chemical-peel such as ENVIRON's LAC PAM Peel. These promote collagen production.

8. Incorporate retinol and AHA's (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) such as glycolic acid and lactic acid into your skin care regimen. Retinol goes deep into the dermis and stimulates collagen production. Glycolic acid stimulates the production of new cells near the surface of the skin, which gives skin a smooth texture by removing dryness. It also helps to clear pores and helps to stimulate collagen production although not as effectively as retinol. 

If you have any skin concerns and are looking for a safe, effective method to treat it, call Madame Skin today (0207 205 4305) to find out which ENVIRON product is suitable for you or go to the website (

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