Woman smoking outside

Smoking & Skin Aging

Smoking is an unappealing habit. It leaves you with bad breath, yellow nails, and moreover is linked to a vast host of health conditions such as lung cancer and even depression. What you may not fully realize however is that smoking also leads to significant premature aging of the skin and causes wrinkles, furrows and thinning lips. There’s really no soft way of saying this – if you smoke cigarettes, you need to stop. Many scientists have also stated that smoking adds between 10 and 20 years to your natural age.

It is estimated that around 1 million people start smoking in the United States every year and virtually all will go on to regret this decision as they find out the effect this poisonous habit has on their health, bodies and skin. Some studies have established that smoking is actually worse for women as the nicotine is more addictive. Women who smoke are also twice as likely to have heart attacks, strokes and lung cancer than their male counterparts.

How Does Smoking Age the Skin
The effects of smoking on skin have been known for a long while. One study as early as 1965 identified what is now known as ‘smoker’s face’. What has become more apparent in recent years is exactly how smoking causes premature aging. There are numerous mechanisms by which smoking accelerates aging. It begins with the formation of free-radicals in the body when exposed to cigarette smoke. Free radicals are unstable molecules that cause disease and damage to cell DNA. Smoking also restricts blood flow to the minuscule veins in your skin known as capillaries preventing oxygen and vital nutrients from doing their job. All in all, this leads to a dull, grayish skin tone which has an obviously discolored look.

Additionally, smoking increases production of enzymes that break down collagen in the skin which is integral to maintaining its elasticity. Smoking for many years will also deplete stores of vitamins A and C, both of which are involved in skin protection and health and help to keep harsh UV rays at bay.

Finally, the actions involved in continually sucking on cigarettes and squinting from cigarette smoke causes deep lines to develop around the eyes and mouth. Smoking doesn’t just cause wrinkling on your face, it is also associated with damage and sagging on nearly all parts of the body including your inner arms and neck.

Reversing Skin Damage
Many smokers wonder if they can reverse the damage they have caused to themselves by smoking. Simply put, the best thing you can do to begin the reversal process is stop smoking – although you must realize you will never fully undo the damage that you’ve done. Healthy diets and supplements are great at maintaining skin health. You should also be aware that skin damage won’t usually appear until 10 or 20 years after you began smoking. A proper skin care regimen using anti-aging and moisturizing creams can also assist in preventing the formation of further wrinkles and fine lines.

Woman with mature skin

Perioral Region Fine Lines and Wrinkles

Think about how many times throughout the day you make facial expressions – you may not even be able to come up with a number because it happens so frequently. Over time, these expressions result in facial lines and wrinkles as your skin loses its collagen and elasticity. Perioral lines are common among aging women, and there are ways that you can help to prevent and treat these fine lines. Keep reading to learn more about perioral lines and how you can get rid of them.

What are Perioral Fine Lines and Wrinkles?
Perioral fine lines and wrinkles are those that occur around the mouth and lip areas. There are three major types of perioral fine lines and wrinkles:

  • Smile Lines (Nasolabial Lines) – Smile lines are the lines that run from the bottom of your nose to the corners of your mouth. These often start small and progressively deepen with age.
  • Marionette Lines – Marionette lines often result in an angry or sad looking face as you age. These lines are vertical fine lines and wrinkles found at the corners of your mouth and they can give your mouth a naturally downturned appearance that can make you look angry or sad even when you are completely relaxed.
  • Vertical Lip Lines – Smoking is one of the leading causes of vertical lip lines for two reasons: the constant lip pursing and the damaging chemicals, toxins and free radicals that result from smoking. Nearly all women, even non-smokers, end up with vertical lip lines because they are caused by repeated motion of the lips. Things like pursing your lips and drinking through straws also result in vertical lip lines.

Woman touching her face

Prevention and Treatments for Perioral Fine Lines and Wrinkles
You can’t live your life completely expressionless, but learning how to relax your facial muscles is a good start in preventing perioral fine lines and wrinkles. Facial massage is a great way to provide your muscles with much-needed relaxation, and you can do a quick two-minute massage at the end of your nighttime facial routine or as your apply an antioxidant serum. If you are a smoker, quit now. Always remember to apply sunscreen to every area of your face, and follow a healthy lifestyle that includes drinking plenty of water.

There are multiple ways you can treat perioral fine lines and wrinkles, including:

  • Facial Exercises – Giving your face a nice massage can help to smooth the appearance of wrinkles, and performing facial exercises are a way you can help strengthen your muscles. When you lose collagen in the perioral region, fine lines and wrinkles become more prominent. Using facial exercises tones your muscles, and when you have sufficient muscle tone, it can make up for the lack of collagen in your skin and decrease the appearance of wrinkles.
  • Topical Treatments – Anti-aging creams, serums and targeted treatments are all ways that you can help treat perioral fine lines. Look for skin care products that use antioxidants like vitamin C or resveratrol, that have moisturizing agents like hyaluronic acid and/or products that contain retinol. All of these ingredients help to fight the appearance of existing wrinkles and help prevent the formation of new fine lines.
  • Botox and Fillers – Injectables are a common way to diminish the look of fine lines and wrinkles. Injectables like hyaluronic acid help to plump up your skin and smooth wrinkles, while Botox paralyzes the muscles around the face, keeping them in a permanent state of relaxation. It is important to note that while these treatments are effective for wrinkles, the results are not permanent and typically last for a few months.

When it comes to preventing signs of aging, including perioral fine lines and wrinkles, sunscreen is the best anti-aging weapon you can use. A skin care routine full of quality ingredients like retinol and resveratrol will also significantly impact the appearance of your fine lines and wrinkles. Be consistent with your skin care routine and give your face some extra attention with exercises and massages to see your perioral fine lines and wrinkles diminish and disappear.

Woman squinting at laptop

Does Squinting Cause Fine Lines?

Beauty is surrounded by many rules, guidelines and myths and it can be daunting to keep up with everything that you are or are not supposed to be doing to and for your skin. If you’ve ever heard that squinting your eyes can cause fine lines and wrinkles, you’ve heard correctly. This is one beauty myth that is absolutely true. Keep reading to find out why squinting causes more fine lines and wrinkles and what you can do to prevent additional wrinkles under and around your eyes.

Does Squinting Cause Fine Lines and Wrinkles?
Unfortunately, squinting really does lead to more fine lines and wrinkles. When you squint, whether you’re trying to watch TV, read your book and check emails on your computer, you are contributing to more fine lines and wrinkles around your eyes. Dawn Davis, M.D, a dermatologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota says “…when you squint the muscles around your eyes grow stronger, and it’s kind of like a workout; therefore, the overlying skin will wrinkle.”

How to Prevent Wrinkles
The skin under and around your eyes is thinner and more delicate than the skin on the rest of your face, so it is more susceptible to fine lines and wrinkles. While you can never prevent all wrinkles, there are some lifestyle changes you can make to keep yourself from squinting as often and causing more fine lines than necessary.

  • Get an Annual Eye Exam – Often, squinting is a response to not being able to see properly and visiting your optometrist once a year is an excellent way to make sure that your vision is in check. Your optometrist will be able to provide you with prescription glasses, sunglasses or contacts so that you can see clearly without having to squint.
  • The Sun – You’re probably excited about how close spring is because you can bask in warm weather and sunlight, but the sun is another primary cause of squinting. You can prevent squinting due to the sun by wearing sunglasses and hats to keep the sun out of your eyes.
  • Move Away From the Screen – Computers are amazing and you probably can’t imagine your life without one, but they can be quite hard on your eyes. Dr. Julia Tzu of Wall Street Dermatology in New York City, New York suggests that you sit about 1.5 to 2 inches away from your computer screen to help prevent eye strain. Additionally, you should take two to three quick breaks away from your computer screen every hour to give your eyes time to rest, according to New York City based dermatologist, Dr. Janet Prystowsky.

Squinting does indeed cause fine lines and wrinkles, but you can fight back against them by making the above lifestyle changes. To most effectively reduce fine lines and wrinkles under and around your eyes, you should combine the above advice with a high-quality anti-aging eye cream. Put on your glasses and step away from the computer once in awhile to reduce the amount of time you spend squinting, and ultimately to reduce fine lines and wrinkles.