Despite its adverse health effects, cigarettes continue to be a mainstay in the lives of so many people across the country. In the Americas, over 127 million people smoke, with the majority of smokers residing in North America. Though this number is spread among countries in the region, it still amounts to a big number of individuals using cigarettes across the US and Canada.
And though the health effects of cigarettes are widely reported, such as the possibility of cardiovascular or pulmonary issues, the way it affects appearance is less highlighted. Read on to learn more about how smoking affects how you look — and how you can quit to reverse its effects.
Why smoking is harmful to your appearance
Though the effects of smoking on the lungs are well-known, its impact on your overall appearance is often less discussed. Research published in Scientific Reports found that next to sun exposure, cigarettes are the second most conspicuous reason for premature skin aging. It is dose-dependent: the more you smoke, the worse the effects on your skin will be. This is primarily due to unstable microscopic chemicals called free radicals that cigarettes release with every puff. Our article “How to Use Castor Oil and Orange Juice to Clear Acne Naturally” explains that these can damage skin cells by affecting the collagen fibers responsible for skin elasticity, causing it to sag.
Smoking also affects your oral health. Cigarette tar causes teeth yellowing. The chemicals it emits can also cause gum disease, leading to tooth decay or even tooth loss. Another side-effect is hair loss. While the reasons remain unclear, many researchers attribute them to free radicals or chemicals. The former can cause hair to fall out, while the latter can promote the production of cytokines, which cause hair follicles to scar.
If you are a smoker, it might be ideal to stop sooner than later in order to prevent or slow down the effects it might have on your appearance.
How to quit
Try nicotine alternatives
For those who want to consume nicotine without the adverse effects of cigarettes, there are many alternatives on the market. Not only are they free of free radicals, but they can easily alleviate the effects of smoking on your appearance. The smoke-free VELO nicotine pouches hosted on Prilla are among the newer NRT products available today, and since they’re tobacco-free they don’t stain the teeth or release chemicals that affect your skin, mouth, and hair. They’re also renowned for their broad selection of flavors, vast array of strengths, and ease of use: simply put a pouch in your mouth and let your body absorb the nicotine.
Meanwhile, the nicotine patches from Nicoderm CQ are a popular option for those that would rather use a non-oral product. They’re stuck onto the skin and release nicotine for up to 24 hours. Like pouches, their tobacco-free nature can make quitting easier without releasing chemicals that harm your overall appearance. You can use both products by choosing a strength similar to your previous cigarette consumption, then lowering your dosage over time.
Find new activities
For many, cigarettes are a form of stress relief. If you want to quit, many great activities can give the same enjoyment without affecting your appearance. One of them is exercise. A study from Frontiers in Psychiatry found that physical activity aids smoking cessation: it releases dopamine, makes you happier, relieves your stress, and even gets you into shape. However, it is a short-term solution and works best when done with other hobbies to curb cravings.
Other things you can do are meditation, reading, or gardening. These are perfect for giving you a stress reliever while also giving you a holistic approach to wellness on your journey to maintaining your looks.
Gaining support is important in smoking cessation. When the people around you have the same mindset, you will be more motivated to quit cigarettes. Talking to friends and family about your goals can be helpful: they can encourage you to quit and hold you accountable. If you’d rather speak to like-minded individuals, joining support groups or seeking the help of psychology professionals can also keep you on track and allow you to talk to people who understand what you are going through.
At the end of the day, quitting cigarettes should be a decision you make to better yourself. Even if it’s just for the sake of your appearance, finding nicotine alternatives, new activities, and support can make a world of difference when it comes to avoiding the effects smoking can have.