I have read that once your skin is damage from smoking you can not get it back. This is so depressing!! Yes I know it's my fault, but it still sucks! This article gave me HOPE :)
Quit smoking and you can still save your skin
By Dr Nick Lowe
The harm smoking inflicts on the skin seems superficial compared to heart disease or lung cancer, but it is usually the first - and most visible - damage caused by the habit.
At my clinics in London and Los Angeles I often see women and men - some as young as 30 - who want to rid themselves of the ravaged complexion that smoking has given them. My first message to them is simple: stop smoking.
Devoted smoker Kate Moss earlier this month (left), and aged 19 (right)
The good news is that if you do give up, the skin will start to repair itself. The bad news for those who can't or won't give up (such as devoted smoker Kate Moss) is that the later you leave it, the more irreversible the problems.
Smoking affects the entire body and when it is put under stress - in this case with a toxic concoction of carbon monoxide, cyanide, tar, formaldehyde and other chemicals - the brain diverts vitamins away from your skin to be used elsewhere.
Nicotine also reduces blood flow to the lower living layer of skin, or dermis, which results in less oxygen being delivered. Skin becomes sallow and the regularity and quality of cell production deteriorate, leading to dry, flaky skin that is less resilient to external stresses.
Over time the skin sags and wrinkles because the body cannot produce collagen effectively. Smoke saps the body of Vitamin C - a key component in the manufacturing of collagen - and disturbs the production of an enzyme called matrix metalloproteinase.
This enzyme should regulate collagen production but in smokers destroys more tissue than it produces, leading to skin that is lined and less plump.
All that sucking when you light up puts the skin under more stress, too. This leads to the signature hollow cheeks, crow's feet and the puckered upper lip of a seasoned smoker. And even those who smoke and sun-worship but don't yet look like a leather bag should give up because it can take 25 years for the damage to show.
So is this damage reversible? Yes, within reason. As soon as you stop smoking, your body is able to function more effectively. Within six weeks the skin will be visibly benefiting from increased oxygen and antioxidant levels, but you must adopt a strict skin-care regime.
Broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB) sunscreen is essential to stop the sun destroying any collagen that your now smoke-free body is producing.
Face cream should provide your skin with antioxidants and peptides - Vitamin A to speed up skin-cell turnover, Vitamin C to stimulate collagen production and Vitamin E to encourage healing. Peptides will signal to your brain that more collagen needs to be produced.
While clinical tests for lycopene supplements - an antioxidant found in red fruit, especially tomatoes - have focused on preventing and reversing skin damage caused by the sun, the destructive processes that smoking and sunbathing initiate are remarkably similar.
I always advocate an ex-smoker taking a lycopene supplement. And a fish-oil supplement with a high concentration of omega-3 will dampen inflammation, promote healing and aid moisture-retention in the dermis.
Take gentle exercise to oxygenate the skin's surface but don't overdo it - your body is healing itself and any sports-related injury will divert much-needed nutrients elsewhere.
Exfoliate twice a week - it sloughs away dead skin cells and sends messages to the brain to produce more collagen - and eat plenty of colourful fruits and vegetables to ensure that your body can metabolise vitamins effectively.
If wrinkles are visible, then it may be necessary to try a laser treatment, chemical-peel or wrinkle-filler - all of which promote collagen production.
When I was young and studying to be a doctor, no one realised the harm smoking caused. I started when I was 16, and joining the Navy only worsened my habit - a free tobacco ration ramped my intake up to 20 cigarettes a day.
It was only in the Seventies that I cut down, but I didn't give up until I was 34. By then I was a professor at UCLA in health-obsessed California.
Despite my 20-year habit, I don't believe you would think I had the skin of a long-term smoker. If you give up today, neither will you.