Monday, January 4, 2016

Smoking, wrinkles, and hoping for an anti-aging miracle

This following email was sent by a friend in my condo complex. A lovely lady, she does smoke cigarettes. This isn’t the end of the world—many people smoke—but it does add a different twist to her question.

I’m trying to figure out the best option to slow down the deep furrows on my cheekbones (lower crow’s feet). I tried Botox several months ago, and it worked great on my forehead but had zero effect on the crow’s feet. I’m not sure what to try next.

Sorry for the delayed responseI think I just replied to you in my head! The answer that came to mind immediately after reading your email was acceptance.

If you’ve read anything I’ve written, you’ll know I’m not a believer in stopping the aging process—because you can’t. I’m more about healthy insides reflecting outwardly as well as daily and weekly maintenance for the health of your outer skin. Wrinkles will start appearing given time. I guesstimate you being mid-30s, give or take, so starting to see wrinkles is normal (although I know unwelcome). 

Obviously you smoke, which breaks down collagen fibers and decreases oxygen to the cells. This affects how your lines form and can cause premature aging. I don’t think someone can get away with flawless non-aging skin and be a smoker. The effects of smoking are a big deal to the health of your skin.

Sun exposure, drinking (alcohol), excessive stress, smoking cigarettes, to name a few—all of these can and probably will have an effect on the aging process for those who partake in any or all of these activities. That you are a smoker and you are experiencing what you are calling “deep furrows” seems, to me, pretty much in line with what happens to a smoker’s skin.

know you want me to say something else. To possibly give you a product or procedure that will fix and possibly erase what is naturally going on with your skin. And perhaps a different aesthetician could and would. But that’s just not me and isn’t how I counsel and educate my clients.

I am more than happy to help you with maintenance things, but as far as what you should try next, I really do go back to my original answer. Accepting the aging process is by no means giving up or letting go. It is just realizing that in 10 years, in 20 years, all of what you see happening now will be even more deeply engraved on your face. At 54, I can tell you absolutely that is what happens! And as long as you continue to smoke, that too will have a huge impact on how you age going forward.

As far as tending to the skin around your eyes and lines that may be forming below your crows feet, keeping the skin well-exfoliated and hydrated will help lessen the look of superficial lines. Regular exfoliation is something you want to do to your entire face (and neck), not just that one area where the lines are forming. If you arent already using some type of eye treatment cream, that would be another good thing to try. Without keeping that tissue (any tissue) moisturized, the lines will look harder, deeper and more obvious.

I realize you said deep furrows, and if thats the case the only way to plump up those indentations would be with fillers. Again, Im not a fan, but that is something that could solve your problem.

As is perhaps usual for me, I didn’t give my friend the miracle answer she was looking for. There are procedures like IPL and others that might get her skin back to where she wants it and maybe not. In other words, it’s not a lost cause, there are things she can do, but my interest (always) lies with helping clients understand the reality, knowing there will always be possible “cures.”

In life we generally do what works for us even if some of those things are actually working against us and our health. Quitting anything is a challenge, but in the case of smoking cigarettes, leaving that habit behind has wide-ranging benefits that will last a lifetime.

For some skin care information, see: 
For details about caring for your skin on a daily and weekly basis, see: