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This post is part of a series about environmental stressors and skincare. Read the rest of the posts in this series:
- What are environmental stressors, anyway?
- How does UV radiation harm our skin?
- How does pollution harm our skin?
- How does sleep help skin?
- How does stress affect our skin?
- What is a healthy skincare diet?
In this latest post in our series on environmental stressors, we’ll explore one of the ultimate cases of “too good to be true,” vaping e-cigarettes. Sure, experts aren’t sure whether vaping is quite as bad as smoking traditional cigarettes, but that isn’t exactly a vote in their favor.
So, is vaping bad for your skin? In this post, we make the case (on behalf of your skin!) for skipping that e-cig.
What does smoking do to skin?
Vaping is relatively new, so we need more research into its effect on the skin. But let’s start with what we know about traditional smoking: it’s really, really bad for our skin.
Inhaling smoke specifically damages our skin in the same way as other environmental stressors: it creates free radical damage. Free radicals cause visible signs of aging like fine lines, uneven skin tone, and wrinkles (read our post What are environmental stressors, anyway? for more.).
Some of these, like sunlight and smog, can’t really be avoided. But others are behaviors we can choose steer clear of for the good of our skin.
Case in point: smoking. Research on the many ways smoking makes our skin look, well, old is pretty conclusive. One striking example is this study of twins, who lived very similar lives with the exception of one factor: one sister smoked, and the other did not. Other visible signs aging are just things we’ve come to associate with smoking. Smokers tend to have wrinkles around the mouth, upper lip, and eyes, darker skin, less radiance, and less tightness overall in their skin.
That’s not really surprising when you consider that one cigarette contains 3,800 harmful chemicals. But of course, vaping can’t be that bad, because vaping isn’t smoking, right? Actually, some of the same chemicals we hate hearing about in cigarettes, like formaldehyde and benzene, are also found in e-cigarette cartridges. And that’s just one of the reason it’s beginning to look like vaping is a very bad choice for our skin.
How nicotine harms our skin
It’s true that vaping relies on vapor (hence the name!) instead of smoke to carry nicotine into our bodies. Score one for vaping? Not really, since nicotine can do bad for our skin all by itself.
When you vape, nicotine impedes blood flow, which slows wound healing. One study demonstrated that vaping slowed that healing after surgery—an extreme example of why nicotine isn’t good for skin health at any time. The same effect can also worsen existing skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
Vaping, at a basic level, creates the kind of environmental stress we want to avoid. We know from studies in mice that e-cigarettes create oxidative stress in cells. And vaping exposes us to particulate matter—just like another environmental stressor, smog (Read our post How does pollution harm our skin? for more).
Plus, like stress, smog, and lack of sleep, smoking doesn’t just increase the toxic load on our skin. It also eats away at stores of the stuff that actively improves our skin. In this case, we’re talking collagen.
The toxins in e-cigarettes make us look older sooner by accelerating the breakdown of collagen, a protein responsible for plumping skin and holding wrinkles at bay (for more, read our post How does collagen work, anyway?).
No news isn’t good news...
We’ll need to see more research into vaping before we can definitively say it’s as bad for health as cigarette smoking. But for now, we feel confident in telling you it’s a bad choice for skin. It’s clear that vaping e-cigarettes contributes to premature skin aging and makes our existing skin conditions worse.
Look at it this way: you’re here because you care about your skin. One important step is to mitigate the damage caused by environmental stressors we can’t control, like smog and sunlight, with antioxidant-rich skincare like The Base Layer and The Back Up (see How do antioxidants for skincare work, anyway?).
Another important step is to eliminate the stressors we can control. Sleeping well, eating a balanced diet, tending to stress and yes, avoiding vaping, will help boost your #skinfromwithin. Combined with a regular Sundaily gummies routine, it’s a simple way to put clearer, happier skin within reach.