You already know smoking is bad for your skin, but these experts are here to tell you that e-cigarettes are no different. They may be affecting your skin more than you think.

The CDC reports that the use of e-cigarettes is growing at an alarming pace, with the numbers surpassing those of all other tobacco products. To find out more about the negative impact smoking this alternative can have on your skin and what you can do to repair the damage, we talked to Omaha-based dermatologist and RealSelf contributor Dr. Joel Schlessinger and Connecticut-based dermatologist Dr. Karen Soika of the Cosmetic Medic.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger

Dr. Joel Schlessinger

Can smoking e-cigarettes be harmful to your skin in the same way as cigarettes? If so, would you elaborate?

Any form of smoking leads to premature signs of aging, deep wrinkles, bags under the eyes, and dull, dehydrated skin. This bad habit starves your skin of oxygen and constricts blood flow, which affects circulation and breaks down collagen and elastin. Additionally, smoking depletes your body of vitamin C, a necessary nutrient for collagen production. Because smoke is a form of pollution, you’re also coming into contact with harmful free radicals.

How can smoking cause premature aging and wrinkles?

We all know smoking takes a toll on the skin, but many people don’t realize how much. Smoking is the most common cause of wrinkles around the mouth, often called smoker’s lines. It’s hard on the rest of your skin, as well. Smoking speeds up the natural aging process. It starves your skin of oxygen and impairs blood flow. Without oxygen and healthy circulation, your skin doesn’t get the important nutrients it needs to remain healthy. The chemicals in cigarettes and cannabis also break down collagen and elastin much faster, leading to premature wrinkles and sagging skin. There have even been studies of twins that have shown how much damage smoking does to the skin in stunning detail.

Can using a vaporizer or e-cigarette be better for your skin?

Since vaporizers are a newer technology, it’s difficult to say what the long-term effects of prolonged use might be. Because the chemicals are the same, it’s highly likely that using a vaporizer will still do the same amount of damage to your skin. Plus, because you’re still puckering your lips, you’ll still develop deep lines and wrinkles around your mouth.

If someone has been a long-term smoker and is interested in any treatments to reverse the effects of smoking on their skin, what treatments would you recommend?

First, it’s important to quit smoking. The longer you smoke, the more damage you do to your skin and body. No amount of skin care can help minimize the signs of aging if you continue to smoke. Applying sunscreen every day will help prevent further damage. It’s important to choose a broad-spectrum formula like EltaMD UV Clear Broad Spectrum SPF 46 Sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays.

An antioxidant serum like SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic will help counteract some free radical damage caused by the smoke chemicals coming into contact with your skin. Because smoking depletes your skin of vitamin A, you’ll also want to add retinol, like SkinMedica Retinol Complex 1.0, to your skincare routine. This ingredient will help increase cell turnover, smooth wrinkles, regulate oil production, and diminish dark spots.

Finally, NeoStrata Skin Active Line Lift can be applied around the mouth area to minimize smoker’s lines. This two-step treatment contains Aminofil to plump and volumize skin, as well as NeoGlucosamine (a building block of hyaluronic acid) to support skin structure and restore density.

Dr. Karen Soika, The Cosmetic Medic

How does smoking affect your skin, and what about e-cigarettes?

Beyond its known links to cancer, lung and heart disease, smoking is now thought to be associated with premature skin aging and delayed wound healing, as well as a number of skin disorders, particularly psoriasishidradenitis suppurativa, and cutaneous lupus erythematosus.

Does smoking e-cigarettes also lead to skin cancer?

If you smoke cigarettes or e-cigs, compared to non-smokers, you have twice the risk of developing a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma. There is also an increased risk of oral leukoplakia (precancer) and oral cancer; 75 percent of cases of oral cancer occur in smokers.

Are there other reasons we should be concerned about e-cigs?

Are there other reasons we should be concerned about e-cigs?

Electronic cigarettes have gained popularity as a tobacco product, but their impact on public and individual health remains largely unknown. It might surprise you to learn that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not currently regulate e-cigarettes, which means there are no safety checks or requirements in place regarding their contents. Unlike cigarettes, which burn tobacco, e-cigarettes typically contain cartridges filled with nicotine and other chemicals. When used, these liquid chemicals transform into vapor or steam, which the user then inhales.

In addition to nicotine, e-cigarettes also contain substances such as propylene glycol, glycerol, and different flavorings. Due to the lack of FDA regulation and review, we have limited knowledge about the ingredients in e-cigarettes. However, initial laboratory tests conducted in 2009 by the FDA revealed levels of chemicals—including one commonly used in antifreeze—in two leading brands of e-cigarettes and 18 different cartridges. An analysis of studies has shown that levels of toxins in e-cigarette aerosol can vary significantly both within and between different brands.

So what’s the final verdict? E-cigarettes are just as bad for you as regular cigarettes, and smoking them regularly is guaranteed to have negative effects on your skin, especially regarding fine lines and wrinkles. Our advice? If you want great skin, cut the smoking habit for good. (You can thank us later.)

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