Vaping & Skin Health: How Does Vaping Affect Your Skin

6 minutes
September 11, 2023

Electronic cigarettes – more commonly referred to as e-cigarettes or vaping - are becoming more popular, and you may even notice them while you are out and about, especially among millennials and gen-z. However, there is a common misconception that vaping could be a healthier alternative to traditional smoking. While e-cigarettes were first introduced as a tool to help people stop smoking, recent studies are showing e-cigarettes are a trending new habit. We know there is more going on beneath the surface, but more research is still needed to fully understand the long-term effects of vaping. So what do we know is happening every time someone inhales a raspberry-flavored thumb drive, and what does it mean for the skin? 

What is vaping?

A vaping device uses a battery to heat a liquid chemical solution – containing chemicals such as nicotine and flavorings – to a degree that vaporizes and can be inhaled. When the vapor is inhaled, the vapor has an immediate effect on the body stimulating the release of hormones and chemicals such as adrenaline and dopamine. This mix of toxic chemicals is readily absorbed into the lungs and bloodstream which triggers a combination of chain reactions, some of which include the desire to continue use despite knowing about health risks. 

What does vaping mean for skin health?

Vaping leads to an immediate loss of oxygen and nutrients in the skin. This loss and depletion over time with continued vaping can lead to redness, chronic dryness, increased flakiness, contact dermatitis, broken capillaries and much more. More critically, vaping triggers a chain reaction of free radical activity that can lead to premature signs of aging and stress. Free radicals are highly unstable molecules that wreak havoc on healthy collagen proteins – aka the key to strong, vibrant skin - by stealing their electrons. Think of free radicals like darts poking holes in the skin structure, weakening it over time. Free radicals reproduce themselves in a chain reaction, causing damage to accelerate. This breakdown of collagen and elastin will result in premature signs of aging, such as dullness, discoloration, and more prominent lines and deep wrinkles. Long-term vaping can be linked to cancers, allergies and chronic inflammation throughout the body and skin. 

What are the side effects of vaping for skin?

Vaping can result in premature signs of aging as a result of inhaling free radicals and the skin’s direct contact with toxic chemicals. Vaping depletes hydration levels in the skin resulting in significant changes in oxygen and vital nutrients. Dehydrated skin can result in more pronounced lines and wrinkles, flakiness, redness, and dullness. Continued use will expose the skin to free radicals that accumulate with time and breakdown healthy collagen and elastin. Commonly reported side effects are dry mouth or eyes, coughing, headache and nausea. Vaping can contribute to serious long-term side effects like an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, mouth or lung disease, addiction and more. 

Free-Radical Fighting Skincare

To keep skin healthy and at its best, minimize exposure to smoke and free radicals and boost antioxidant and sun protection. The skin is bombarded by free radicals every day through sun exposure, pollution and second-hand smoke. It’s best to avoid vaping and e-cigarettes for the health of the body, especially the heart and lungs, and even the skin. Additionally, supporting skin health with antioxidants (these molecules search and neutralize existing free radicals), LED light therapy and sun protection will help to prevent and even reverse free radical damage, protect existing collagen, reduce inflammation and the appearance of lines, wrinkles and hyperpigmentation. These scientifically proven ingredients will also help to stimulate natural collagen production for stronger, firmer and brighter looking skin. 

Is vaping better for skin than smoking?

Traditional cigarettes can contain a combination of hundreds of ingredients, including tobacco leaves, nicotine extract, sugar, ammonia, and other compounds that when combusted release thousands of chemicals into the lungs, many of which are potentially harmful and known carcinogens. E-cigarettes use a different delivery method, aerosol, which uses low temperatures to turn a liquid chemical cocktail into a vapor, or gas, to be inhaled. There is substantial evidence proving the damaging effects of smoke and the solid particles and chemicals that are released into the lungs from smoking. Since vaping is still relatively new to the scene, clinical research is still being gathered on the long-term harm of vaping on the lungs, skin and mouth. 

Fight Free-Radicals with Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare

The good news is the negative direct and side effects of smoking and vaping diminish significantly with discontinued use. Ultimately, there are healthier habits you can form for your lungs, heart and skin besides vaping and smoking, one being a free-radical fighting skincare routine

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