Smoking, Vaping and your Skin: What’s True and What’s False

Ah, vaping. One of the latest, and perhaps even most polarizing, trends to appear in the last few years. There has been numerous discussion and debate on the topic of vaping: is it harmful? Should you vape in non-smoking areas? What are the side effects? Let’s quickly break it down before we even begin to think about its effects on your skin.

Vaping is the process by which people inhale and exhale vapor (hence the name) created in an e-cigarette. When you exhale, what comes out looks very much like smoke, but it’s not; it’s simply water vapor. The contraption you would use is known as a vaporizer, and here’s how it works: within your vaporizer, which looks like a thick pen, there is a cartridge that holds e-liquid. E-liquid is a mixture of compounds, both natural and artificial, that provide flavor to the vapor. When someone is vaping and inhales, the cartridge with the e-liquid heats up to the point where it reaches its boiling point, and the vapor is created. That is what you then exhale.

The invention of the original e-cigarette is credit to Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik, who was inspired to create a safer way to smoke after he lost his father to cancer. Cancer from what, you might ask? From smoking, of course. After prototypes and a patent, he released to the world what we now know as the e-cigarette, from which vaping was born.

Correlation to Acne: Truth

Now that we’ve gotten vaping out of the way, how does this habit affect your skin? What you must first realize is that any habit you begin is going to have some type of effect on your body, whether it is dietary, an exercise regimen, or any other new routine you incorporate. Smoking and vaping are no different, as they are depending upon chemical components to deliver a particular taste and, in the case of cigarettes, satisfy a craving.

Here’s the bad news for men: it has been shown in various studies that men who smoke are much more likely to suffer from acne than their female counterparts. The nicotine in the cigarettes stimulate the cells that produce collagen, which is what makes your skin elastic and looking new, so that they go into a sort of overdrive with the production. Your skin winds up tightening due to these newly created layers, and therefore, the tighter the skin, the more dirt, sebum, and bacteria becomes trapped. Imagine your skin constricting around the dirt-filled pores, thereby creating a mix of both whiteheads and blackheads. Not only that, smoking can age your skin significantly, creating dry patches and wrinkles on your face.

So What are the Myths?

Vaping has not been around long enough for there to be any conclusive studies on the relationship between the actual act of vaping and your skin. The only “evidence” lies in the testimonials that you can find online with a quick search. Here’s what people are saying on both sides: some have sworn that vaping helped to clear their skin. Though they did experience initial breakouts or flair-ups, vape users reported a clearing of their acne after their first month.

Other users report that the act of vaping actually worsened or brought about acne on their faces, especially around their mouths. There are two theories making their way around the Internet when it comes to this: the first is that people with sensitive skin are experiencing an adverse reaction to the Propylene Glycol, or PG, which is one of the ingredients in the e-liquid. The second is that people are touching their mouth areas a lot more due to the vaping, and therefore spreading the bacteria from their hands to their mouths.

Again, these are all speculative and based on the testimonials of users. Might there be a legitimate study to emerge connecting vaping and skin? Sure, but for right now, the takeaway is that all skin types are different, and adding or subtracting routines will have an effect on your skin.


  1. After 2 weeks of vaping and 2 weeks of quitting smoking I swear these past couple of days I’ve woken up with clear glowing skin idk if it’s the vaping which is why I’ve been doing my research if vaping causes your skin to clear and glow which I have been experiencing really hope it’s my vape pen lol

  2. I had SOME zit issues as a females do before I started vaping but not as bad as they are now. I’m getting painful, massive bouts of cystic acne which I never got before. I’m literally 100 percent sure it is due to vaping. I assumed this from 2 years ago and from EVERY single time when I’ve started and stopped vaping numerous times I have seen the difference in my skin. Vaping has made my skin so bad I literally can’t control it with over the counter treatment and had to get pharmaceutical treatment from my doctor instead. Honestly, I’ve decided to put down vaping for the last time and I will definitely not be going back to cigarettes as I have strong willpower. The type of acne vaping has caused me has literally stopped me from wanting to go anywhere. At 24 years old I should not have this type of acne and it’s only ever happens whenever I picked up the vape again. Believe me it’s so bad and this is DEFINITELY a side effect of vaping. Even my boyfriend who is approaching 30 and always had great skin has been getting cystic spots since he started vaping whether it is high or low pg or VG or whatever it is. It is bad for the skin in general even if you are meticulous with your facial cleansing routine you will probably find you will gradually get worse skin while vaping. It’s such a shame because it’s a great alternative to smoking. Give it some more time and I’m sure people will come to find there ARE more health risks associated with vaping and you’ll be happy you stopped.

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