What Happens to Your Skin When You Quit Smoking?

Even 20-year-olds who have only been smoking for a couple of years can look at their faces in the mirror and be shocked at how old they look. The older you get, the more tobacco use accelerates the aging appearance of your face. On this subject, we have both good news and bad news:

  • The bad news is there’s no way around the fact that smoking is damaging your skin
  • The good news is that, if you quit today, your skin can start to repair itself

Why does tobacco damage your skin, and why does quitting smoking make it heal? How long before my face looks better after I quit smoking? We’ll answer all these questions in this guide, and then we’ll tackle an entirely new inquiry: Does smoking CBD damage your skin just like smoking tobacco?

Does smoking tobacco harm your skin?

Yes, smoking tobacco harms your skin in a variety of direct and indirect ways. The nicotine in cigarette smoke can yellow or discolor your skin and teeth, and many of the more than 4,000 chemicals present in tobacco cigarettes have pro-oxidant effects, meaning they trigger oxidative stress in your skin and throughout the rest of your body.

Your skin needs lots of collagen and elastin to stay young and smooth. These proteins are very delicate, though, and they can be damaged by even the slightest bit of oxidative stress. Smoking tobacco cigarettes damages the elastin and collagen in your skin, accelerating the aging process and making your skin look much older than your calendar age.

Can you reverse “smoker’s face?”

In some cases, signs of aging are irreversible, and the same can be true for smoking-induced aging, also known as “smoker’s face.” What we’re learning about skin health, though, indicates that removing sources of oxidative stress and exposing skin to antioxidants may heal or reverse smoking-related signs of aging that were once thought impossible to repair.

Does your skin repair itself when you quit smoking?

Yes, your skin will work as hard as it can to repair itself as soon as you quit smoking tobacco cigarettes. The moment you ash your last cigarette, the pro-oxidant substances in cigarette smoke and tar will start leaving your body, making room for the body’s own antioxidants to begin the healing process.

Depending on how long you’ve smoked and how old you are, you might not notice the results overnight. Even if quitting smoking never makes you look younger, though, is that really a good reason not to quit?

Will my skin look younger if I quit smoking?

It’s most likely that your skin will look younger—or at least better—soon after you quit smoking tobacco cigarettes for good. Looking younger after you quit smoking isn’t guaranteed, though, and there might be natural methods you can use to speed up the “de-aging” process.

Do wrinkles improve after quitting smoking?

Many older people who have started to notice the development of wrinkles on their faces note marked wrinkle reductions after they quit smoking. Wrinkles in skin are caused by shortages of collagen and elastin, which naturally decrease in concentration as you age. Smoking accelerates the breakdown of these vital proteins, though, so it’s natural to expect at least some degree of bounce-back to your youthful appearance once tobacco is no longer in your life.

Why do I look worse after quitting smoking?

In the first few days or weeks after you quit smoking, it’s natural to look even worse than you did when you still smoked. Quitting anything you’ve become chemically addicted to isn’t easy—even when quitting tobacco, you go through withdrawals that drain your body and may negatively impact your appearance. Once you make it through the tobacco withdrawal process, though, your skin will begin healing itself and look better than ever before.

How long after quitting smoking does skin improve?

Most people who quit smoking notice improvements in the appearance and health of their skin within 1-3 weeks. Benefits to skin health continue from there, and if you’re young enough, quitting smoking may even naturally spur a stunning reversal in your previously diminished appearance. Even older quitters can regain their youthful visages to some degree by boosting the antioxidant activities already underway in their bodies.

How to protect your skin from smoking: Is there a way?

Let’s be very clear: There’s no way to smoke tobacco cigarettes and still have great skin. Even if you somehow prevent every single smoke particle a cigarette produces from touching your face, tobacco you inhale will still do damage on the inside, negatively impacting your circulation and harming your tissues at the cellular level. If you want to protect your skin, you have to stop smoking. It’s that simple.

Skin before and after quitting smoking tobacco: What to expect

Thousands of people have now shared photos of their skin from before and after they quit smoking. Not every former smoker experiences dramatic results, but based on others who have gone before you, it’s reasonable to expect you will look better in one way or another after you quit smoking cigarettes. There’s even science backing up the possibility that skin color could improve when you quit tobacco.

How can I repair my skin after smoking?

You’ve done the best thing you could do to repair your skin already: quit smoking. Now, it’s time to stand aside and let your body do most of the heavy lifting. You can boost the antioxidant activity going on inside your body, though, by topically applying or orally ingesting safe, plant-based substances known to have antioxidant properties.

Most of the anti-aging serums sold online and in beauty shops simply consist of antioxidant botanical substances suspended in water. The science of repairing skin is surprisingly simple, but antioxidant substances vary significantly in their ability to help your skin heal.

Does smoking CBD hurt your skin?

Smoking CBD-rich hemp flower does not appear to hurt your skin in the same way as smoking tobacco. Hemp producers generally do not add any chemicals to their smokeable flower products, so CBD cigarettes don’t contain any of the pro-oxidant substances present in tobacco cigarettes.

We don’t know enough about smoking CBD to make any claims about the potential health benefits of using cannabidiol in this way. What we do know for certain, though, is that hemp and tobacco are completely different substances, and hemp flower manufacturers don’t seem keen to make the same mistakes as big tobacco giants when it comes to adulterating their products with dangerous additives.

Can smoking CBD help skin?

We don’t know enough to be sure if smoking CBD could improve the health of your skin. Plenty of research has been conducted into the potential antioxidant benefits of CBD as a cannabinoid, though. Lots of people use CBD specifically for its potential antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, and anti-aging CBD products abound on the internet and in upscale beauty salons alike.

If you’re using CBD for skin issues, smoking this cannabinoid might not be the most effective approach. Keep an eye out for simple topical CBD products like serums that you can apply directly to your face, and consider smoking or vaping CBD as well for indirect, body-wide benefits.

Can smoking CBD help with acne?

Thousands of people have shared stories of success in using CBD for acne. There’s less anecdotal evidence, though, regarding the specific usefulness of smoking CBD for acne. Smoking is definitely an effective way to get CBD into your system, however, and there’s no evidence that smoking CBD hemp flower harms your skin like tobacco cigarettes.

Is CBD serum good for your skin?

CBD serums are light, water-based topicals that are designed to deliver the topical benefits of cannabidiol as simply and efficiently as possible. Usually accompanied by vitamin C and other natural substances that have been shown to have antioxidant properties, CBD serums absorb into your skin almost instantly, and many people swear by their ability to make skin look younger and more attractive.

We still don’t know enough about CBD, though, to make definitive statements regarding the ability of any type of CBD product to help your skin. All we can say is that serums, in general, are believed to be some of the most-therapeutic and least-harmful forms of antioxidant topicals.

Can CBD cause skin problems?

CBD is not known to cause any skin-specific side effects. The most common side effects of CBD include drowsiness and digestive discomfort if taken orally, and when applied topically, CBD is not known to have any particular side effects of any kind.

If you experience any redness or irritation after applying a CBD topical, discontinue use immediately. Rest assured that it was most likely another ingredient in your topical, not the CBD, that caused the irritation. CBD is generally believed to be a very mild substance—even among cannabinoids—that thousands of people have reported success in using topically to mitigate smoking-related skin damage and other signs of aging.

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