We all want to maintain our youthful looking skin. One of the biggest secrets to doing so is avoiding cigarettes. If you've never had one, or quit long ago, then you have a distinct advantage in fighting the effects of aging. Just by avoiding the habit, you've already taken a big step to keeping your skin fresh and new for years to come. If you are a smoker, even if you just smoke a few cigarettes each day, now is the time to give it up. It may be a long, difficult journey; but, your skin will thank you. Let's look at how smoking promotes the appearance of aging. How exactly does smoking result in winkles and other signs of aging? There are various ways. First of all, your skin becomes a victim of second-hand smoke. Just coming in contact with the smoke you exhale or that ascends from the end of the cigarette has damaging effects on the chemical makeup of your skin. Collagen, produced by the deeper layers of skin, is reduced. Elastin is also affected. These two naturally-produced chemicals keep your skin flexible and resistant to wrinkles. Without them, your skin is prone to age faster. Not only wrinkles, but also visible sagging of the skin can result. Another reason the skin of smokers ages faster is because of repetitive motions. The faces you make to hold the cigarette between your lips and to suck in or blow out the smoke are all repeated dozens of times with each cigarette. Pursing your lips and squinting your eyes so many times will increase the speed at which certain lines form. Again, with the natural chemicals your body produces to fight wrinkles being eliminated by the smoke, these repetitive facial motions create many indelible creases in the skin, very quickly forming deep lines. Finally, cigarette smoke also reduces blood flow by constricting blood vessels. With less flow of blood, less oxygen is reaching the skin. The result is a reduction in the process of cells being produced and growing. As old cells die off, new ones need to replace them. Without this process, damage occurs and older, dying cells may not be replaced as quickly as they should. This aging process can happen rapidly. Twenty-year-olds who smoke can begin to see wrinkles fairly quickly. Those who have smoked for many decades may appear 10 or even 20 years older than they actually are. Non smokers, however, can often appear to be younger than their actual age. For these reasons, it is imperative to quit smoking immediately if you are trying to reduce the signs of aging. Obviously, this is just one of the many harmful effects of smoking. It is certainly a very difficult habit to break; but, with the right motivation and the help of friends, and your physician, it IS possible. The benefits of a smoke-free life are worth the effort -- including a more youthful appearance.
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