Smoking Study Unable to Show Negative Effect on Skin.

Smoking will kill you, but sunlight gives you wrinkles

Smoking is bad for you. Smoking cigarettes causes cancer, promotes heart disease and has other terrible effects on your health.

But I don't think smoking affects the appearance of your skin.

Skin affected by smoking cigarettes

In 2105, I collected 776 photos of 378 people. I organized them by age and compared the smokers with the non-smokers. All of these photos are available on the Smoker's Age Chart.

I expected to find a difference, visible benchmarks showing that smoking cigarettes makes you look old and wrinkled.

Skin affected by smoking cigarettes

I'm not convinced by my evidence. These smokers' skin was wrinkled, but only about as wrinkled as a non-smoker at the same age.

Skin affected by smoking cigarettes

I was hoping to appeal to the vanity of young women and men, illustrating that smoking doesn't just shorten your life, it messes with your pretty face.

With enough data, I figured I'd be able to show that a 30 year-old smoker looks like a 37 year-old non-smoker. Unfortunately, the pictures don't support that hypothesis.

Skin affected by smoking cigarettes

Smoking certainly isn't good for you, and it probably damages your appearance and your skin in a small way, but that effect is competely overshadowed by the damage done by the sun.

Skin affected by smoking cigarettes

Get out of the sun, or wear sunscreen, or both. That's my advice if you would like smooth, unwrinkled skin.

Skin affected by smoking cigarettes

The most compelling evidence of the impact of sun exposure can be seen in the comparison of these two men: Malcolm and Guy.

Malcolm is a 70 year-old Irish or Scottish man, Guy is a 64 year-old biker. Malcolm was smoking a cigarette when I met him, and I got the impression that he had been smoking his entire life.

Guy is a biker, a non-smoker who rides the highway in full sun.

Skin affected by smoking cigarettes

Malcolm's skin looked great. He had a meager set of shallow wrinkles around the corners of his eyes. Being Scottish or Irish, I'm guessing he spent most of his life near 57° latitude, where light from the sun never lands a solid punch.

Guy's skin is deeply wrinkled, his cheeks and eyes looked like they were surrounded with broken asphalt. His was some of the craggiest skin formations I witnessed, yet he didn't have a history of smoking, and he was six years younger than Malcolm.

My conclusion: smoking hurts your heart, mouth, gums and lungs, but sun exposure murders your skin.

This was a really fun project! I met hundreds of people and studied a lot of faces. I have a bunch of raw data, and I'm looking forward to cooking up some results!

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