Here’s What Vaping Does To Your Skin

It’s somewhat paradoxical that two of the most prevalent topics in Gen Z pop culture right now are vaping and skincare.

On one hand, TikTok is rife with anti-ageing advice (ever heard of an anti-wrinkle straw?), the global market value of skincare is projected to hit approximately AU$258 billion by 2027, and mere months ago, there was a crisis over preteens running amok in Sephora stores. Speaking to last September, Finder money expert Alison Banney described anti-ageing treatments as “the new avocado on toast”, relative to its financial burden on young consumers.

On the other hand, one in five Australians have tried an e-cigarette at least once in their life, with almost 1 in 10 young adults (aged 18-24) reporting that they vape daily.

While these two things may appear to share little more than time in headlines, the reality is they are much more closely connected than you may think.

It’s a pretty well known fact that cigarettes are bad for you. But as Dr. Yalda Jamai, Cosmetic Doctor at Epios Cosmetic Clinic Sydney, tells ELLE Australia, “E-cigarettes initially emerged as a safer alternative to smoking, however with time, evidence is suggesting that vaping has very similar health implications to smoking regular tobacco cigarettes.”

And along with risks of nicotine poisoning, lung disease and even cancer (many vapes include chemicals like formaldehyde, arsenic and acrolein), vaping may impact your skin in such a way that no amount of Drunk Elephant retinol cream will be able to mask. As with cigarette smoking, vaping involves the inhalation of toxins, some of which will inevitably be deposited in the skin. Overloading our body’s largest organ with said toxins will subsequently impact its ability to function normally.

From expediting signs of ageing and acne to creating dull, lifeless skin; the chemicals in the fruity vapour might just be doing your face more harm than you realise. While we’re not here to spout about the ramifications of vaping on you broader health (although, it is something we recommend educating yourself on before you buy your next vape), scroll on to wise-up on one of the lesser-known side-effects of e-cigarettes.

Does Vaping Age Your Face?

The simple answer is yes, vaping does age your face. As Dr. Jamali tells ELLE Australia, vaping causes oxidative stress, which is when there are too many unstable molecules (called “free radicals”) in the body and not enough antioxidants to get rid of them.

Dr. Jamali explains that this phenomenon “is directly linked to reducing the production and breakdown of collagen and elastin,” which she describes as, “the essential building blocks for skin firmness and elasticity.” It is elasticity, firmness and plumpness that are associated with youthful-looking skin, so reducing these proteins will naturally make the skin appear older.

Further, nicotine, which is commonly found in black market vapes in Australia (it is illegal to sell e-cigarettes containing nicotine), acts as a “vasoconstrictor” to the blood cells, meaning lesser amounts of oxygen and nutrients can make their way to the skin. This can cause the skin to wrinkle and sag.

Regular vaping can also cause your skin to become more dehydrated, which Dr. Jamali explains is due to certain ingredients such as propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin which can be found in most e-cigarettes. She notes that this, combines with nicotine, can potentially also lead to a dull and uneven skin tone.

The Relationship Between Vaping, Acne and Other Skin Conditions

Not only can vaping make your acne worse, but it can actually exacerbate any skin condition.

“In acne, vaping can increase inflammation and oil production,” explains Dr. Jamali. “We also know from years of research on Nicotine, that it can increase oil production, impact hormonal balance and disrupt the skin moisture barrier, which can lead to acne or worsening of acne.”

Evidence suggests that vaping is just as detrimental as smoking when it comes to wound healing. This means that pimples or sores will take longer to clear.

Further, vaping can also make skin conditions such as eczema worse. As well as dehydrating the skin and increasing inflammation, Dr. Jamali explains that “the chemicals and additives in vape juice may directly irritate the skin, triggering eczema flare-ups, especially in individuals with sensitive skin.”

Other conditions such as psoriasis and rosacea, which are linked to abnormalities in the skin barrier, may also be exacerbated.

Can You Get ‘Smoker’s Lips’ From Vaping?

A side effect of smoking tobacco cigarettes can be the formation of vertical perioral lines around the lips, otherwise known as “smoker’s lips.”

These creases can be a side effect of vaping, too.

“Overuse of the lip muscle to purse [your lips to vape] alongside the reduction in collagen…

Read More: Here’s What Vaping Does To Your Skin