Smoking can contribute to a range of skin issues, from premature wrinkles to discoloration. But quitting can help minimize and even reverse some of these effects.

Smoking can cause serious health issues like cancer and heart disease. But it can also take a toll on your appearance — including your skin.

Smoking causes your blood vessels to narrow, decreasing the flow of oxygen and nutrients to your skin. Research suggests people who smoke have fewer collagen and elastin fibers, key proteins for your skin’s health and firmness.

Meanwhile, tobacco smoke is linked to pigmentation that can make your complexion look gray, reddish, or sallow.

Plus, smoking can cause age spots and premature wrinkles, and worsen skin conditions like psoriasis or eczema.

But what happens to your skin when you quit smoking? Quite a lot.

Quitting smoking benefits pretty much all the organs in your body, including the largest one.

Improves complexion and pigmentation

According to 2012 research, quitting smoking can reduce age spots, redness, and other signs of discoloration.

A 2013 study echoed this finding. Researchers concluded that skin redness and tobacco staining significantly decreased after quitting smoking.

Reduces signs of aging

A small 2010 study concluded that quitting smoking led to a reduction of 13 years in participants’ “biological age.” Researchers based this number on factors like skin brightness, smoothness, elasticity, and coloring.

That said, more research is needed to fully understand how quitting smoking impacts existing wrinkles.

Restores collagen production

Smoking impairs collagen production, but this process may be restored after quitting.

In a small 2019 study, researchers found that quitting smoking led to the reactivation of collagen production in the body.

According to 2019 research, signs of age spots and hyperpigmentation can decrease within a month of stopping smoking. A small study from 2013 also found that skin color changes from smoking start to reverse about 4-12 weeks after quitting.

Remember: the amount of time it takes before you notice benefits may vary. But you can likely expect some improvements within a month.

In addition to quitting smoking, there are other steps you can take to restore your skin, including:

  • Maintaining a balanced diet. A healthy, balanced diet full of essential vitamins and nutrients can help strengthen and protect the skin. Drinking water can also help the skin stay healthy and hydrated. Cutting back on alcohol will also minimize signs of photoaging and dehydration.
  • Getting enough exercise. Research from 2015 suggests that regular cardio can improve the skin’s composition, thickening the inner layers and giving it a plumper appearance.
  • Sleeping well. Like the rest of your organs, your skin repairs itself while you sleep. When you get enough shuteye, you give your body plenty of time to boost blood flow and collagen production. This can help reduce signs of wrinkles and hyperpigmentation.
  • Using sunscreen. Applying SPF, even when it’s cloudy, will protect your skin from photodamage. A small study from 2016 even suggests that regular sunscreen use could reverse signs of photoaging, though more research is needed to confirm this.
  • Maintaining a regular skin care routine. Washing, moisturizing, and caring for your skin can go a long way in keeping it healthy and hydrated. If you’re not sure about the right skin care routine for you, talk with a dermatologist.
  • Using products formulated to restore the skin. There are many products that can help reverse signs of damage caused by smoking. For instance, vitamin C serums can reduce wrinkles and brighten skin. Meanwhile, niacinamide can help lighten the appearance of hyperpigmentation and age spots.Retinol is also very effective for combating wrinkles.
  • Getting in-office treatments that target your concerns. There are several in-office dermatology and beauty treatments like microneedling, dermal fillers, and laser resurfacing treatments can help to improve skin texture and reduce discoloration.

Feeling lost in the skin care aisle? Learn more about common skin care ingredients.

Smoking can damage your skin over time, causing age spots, premature wrinkles, discoloration, and thickening. It can also worsen the symptoms of skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema.

Quitting smoking can reverse some of the damage. Stopping the habit can restore collagen production, diminish signs of redness and hyperpigmentation, and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.