Protect your skin by avoiding sunlight, using sunscreen daily, and not smoking

Did you know that excessive sun exposure and smoking are the primary causes of early skin ageing?

If you are in your 20s or 30s and want to retain your youthful complexion, you would do well to avoid both.

“The best way to prevent early skin ageing is to avoid sunlight and use a broad spectrum sunscreen daily,” says Dr Pang Shiu Ming​, Senior Consultant at the Department of Dermatology at Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the SingHealth​ group. “Smoking causes skin damage so you should quit if you want to look youthful for as long as possible.”

How the skin works

Your skin, the largest organ in your body, is made up of three layers.​ These are:

  • Epidermis: the thin outer layer where there is a constant turnover of skin cells
  • Dermis: the thick middle layer rich in collagen and elastin which give the skin its firmness and elasticity
  • Hypodermis: the innermost layer which has fat cells and is connected to bone and muscle

With age, production of new skin cells slows down in the epidermis, and the collagen and elastin in the dermis start to thin. The skin also suffers a cumulative effect from external factors of which UV damage from sunlight is the most important. This leads to the formation of fine lines, wrinkles, pigmentation and age spots, and changes in texture.

While these changes are a natural part of ageing, they can also occur prematurely because of avoidable environmental factors such as smoking and sunlight.

How smoking age​s the skin


  • The nicotine in cigarettes causes a narrowing of the skin’s blood vessels. This reduces the supply of oxygen and essential nutrients.
  • Harmful chemicals in cigarettes break down collagen and elastin, causing thin and loose skin.​

Read on for environmental factors of skin ageing and how to delay it.​


Ref: S13​