Smoking can affect the overall health and appearance of your skin. The toxins in tobacco can decrease blood flow to skin cells, reduce moisture in the dermis, and break down collagen and elastin, causing wrinkles.

Because the toxins in tobacco can age your organs prematurely, it makes sense that smoking would affect your body’s largest organ — your skin.

Smoking can make your blood vessels narrow, limiting the oxygen and vital nutrients that reach your skin cells. People who smoke also tend to have lower levels of collagen and elastin, which are vital to overall skin health and firmness. This reduction in collagen and elastin often leads to premature wrinkles.

Quitting smoking can stop the development of wrinkles and may even reverse it. Here’s what to know.

The toxins you inhale when you smoke affect every organ of your body, including your skin.

According to a 2021 review, smoking can cause collagen and elastin fibers in skin to break down. Collagen is an essential protein that affects the health and function of the dermis. When collagen and elastin levels decrease, skin is more likely to sag, wrinkle, and lose firmness.

Smoking may also reduce moisture in your skin, which could cause wrinkles to develop more easily or be more visible.

In general, wrinkles caused by smoking tend to show up earlier in life than those caused by typical aging. The association between prominent wrinkles and smoking seems to be especially apparent when people smoke more than 40 packs of cigarettes per year.

Additionally, the act of puckering up to take a puff may cause wrinkles around your lips to be more visible.

It’s possible that smoking-related wrinkles could lessen once you quit.

Smoking hinders collagen production, but this effect may be temporary. A small 2019 study found that 19 former smokers had significantly improved collagen levels 4–8 weeks after quitting. After 12 weeks, collagen production had almost reached pre-smoking levels.

Even though this study was small, the research on smoking cessation and skin appearance looks promising overall. In another small study from 2019, researchers found that age spots and hyperpigmentation reversed within a month of quitting smoking.

While there’s not enough evidence to definitively say that quitting smoking will reverse any skin damage, it appears that at least a few aspects of skin health can bounce back. Even if quitting doesn’t completely reverse smoking-related wrinkles, increased collagen may make wrinkles less visible.

Quitting smoking can have positive effects on your skin health. But you can take additional steps to replenish your skin further, such as:

  • Eating a balanced diet: Eating a diet rich in vitamins and minerals can help restore, strengthen, and protect your skin. Drinking plenty of water and minimizing alcohol and caffeine consumption will also help your skin retain moisture and stay healthy.
  • Getting enough exercise: Regular moderate exercise boosts blood flow and can increase natural antioxidant production in your body, which helps protect all your cells, including skin cells.
  • Sleeping well: They call it “beauty rest” for a reason. Your skin cells can repair themselves while you sleep, and your body can increase collagen production during this time.
  • Using sunscreen: Wearing sunscreen can protect your skin from photoaging and wrinkles. Research from 2016 suggests that regular sunscreen use can even reverse wrinkles and sun spots.
  • Prioritizing your skin care routine: In general, cleansing and moisturizing your skin regularly will help keep it healthy. Additionally, regular gentle exfoliation can help eliminate dead skin buildup and help serums absorb better. Retinol, vitamin C, and other serums can reduce wrinkles and brighten your skin.
  • Considering in-office treatments: Treatments such as microneedling and laser resurfacing can help improve skin texture and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.

Quitting smoking is a lot more manageable when you have resources and support. To start your journey, you may want to consider:

  • Nicotine replacement therapy: Over-the-counter nicotine patches, lozenges, inhalers, and nasal sprays can reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
  • Support groups and counseling: Joining with others (either in-person or online) who are quitting can help you build a sense of community and maintain motivation to continue your quitting journey. Counseling can help you develop the tools to overcome challenges and quit for good.
  • Quitline services: Quitline services such as 1-800-QUIT-NOW can connect you with resources and help you develop a plan to quit successfully.
  • Mobile apps: Mobile apps such as quitSTART can make quitting smoking feel more accessible and manageable.

Read more about the available options to help you quit smoking.

Smoking tobacco regularly is associated with reduced collagen production, elastin breakdown, and premature skin wrinkling. Quitting can stop or even reverse some of this skin damage.

To quit smoking, consider using resources such as nicotine replacement therapy or supportive coaching. For the best results, try to combine quitting with wearing sunscreen, eating a nutritious diet, and maintaining a well-rounded skin care routine.