A new study looked at sets of twins, where only one was a smoker. Can you guess which one?

To make more quantitative comparisons, three plastic surgeons who didn’t know the smoking histories coded each image.

The result? Smokers were worse off in very specific aging features in the mid to lower sections of the face including: upper eyelid skin redundancy, lower lid bags, malar bags (cheek puffiness), nasolabial creases, jowls, upper lip lines, and lower lip vermillion lines.

The effect was also noticeable even when both twins were smokers--the twin who smoked for a longer period of time looked older.

2013-11-04

Co.Exist

See How Smoking Will Ruin Your Face, With These Side-By-Side Images Of Twins

This isn't some Photoshop trick. These are sets of twins where only one smoked. Smoking does not do great things for your appearance.

Trying to quit smoking? If worrying about the higher risk of lung cancer and heart disease doesn't work, try thinking about your face.

People have known since 1971 that smoking can cause premature aging, but a new study on 79 pairs of identical twins puts the effects in hard-to-deny terms.

As you can see in the images, it’s easy to guess which twin is the smoker. The twin who smokes looks older than his or her identical sibling, who either didn’t smoke or smoked for at least five fewer years.

To make more quantitative comparisons, three plastic surgeons who didn’t know the smoking histories coded each image. They also controlled for other factors that could cause aging, such as being overweight, stressed, or not using sunblock.

The result? Smokers were worse off in very specific aging features in the mid to lower sections of the face including: upper eyelid skin redundancy, lower lid bags, malar bags (cheek puffiness), nasolabial creases, jowls, upper lip lines, and lower lip vermillion lines. The effect was also noticeable even when both twins were smokers--the twin who smoked for a longer period of time looked older.

The study, published in November in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, was conducted over three years at the annual “Twins Day Festival” in Twinsburg, Ohio, where the authors had more than 400 twins answer questionnaires to find smoking and non-smoking pairs. Professional photographers snapped photos of all the participants.

This is one kind of aging that no miracle cream can solve.

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28 Comments

  • JJ

    Did i miss something ? Next time mabey you can put the answers when you ask us "to guess". duuuu

  • Eleo

    To be honest the difference isn't as glaring as I would have imagined. They have the same genes but of course one is going to look slightly "better" than the other; the fact that one is a smoker could just be happenstance.

    I also find it difficult to believe they truly controlled for other factors, such as stress. As an ex-smoker, I found that physical withdrawal symptoms were actually rather mild -- similar to going cold-turkey on morning coffee. Overcoming the psychological triggers -- stress and anxiety being big ones -- took me months/years.

    I would argue that the profile of a person who fails to quit smoking permanently over the course of several decades is that of someone who is self-medicating on some level.

  • John

    Trying to quit smoking? If worrying about the higher risk of lung cancer and heart disease doesn't work, try thinking about your face.

  • LindaRV

    To get more information on the changes in smokers' faces, click on the link to the study.

  • Daniel Kim

    It seemed really obvious to me (If the right hand picture was the smoker for picture number two, and the right hand picture was the smoker for picture number one, otherwise I am really bad at this.)

  • Claire Gibbs

    How do they account for other lifestyle factors? Stress, alcohol, income; all things that can have a substantial impact on your physical wellbeing and therefore your appearance. Also, how do we know there's no cherry picking going on, I'm sure there are sets of twins out there who have no difference or the opposite is true

  • James Jack Gaffney

    Look closely. Also, I think for the women, it would have shown better without makeup

  • mike wiles

    So, aging is really the culprit...I should have been smoking with the cool kids this whole time.

  • John

    How do they account for other lifestyle factors? Stress, alcohol, income; all things that can have a substantial impact on your physical wellbeing and therefore your appearance. Also, how do we know there's no cherry picking going on, I'm sure there are sets of twins out there who have no difference or the opposite is true

  • kayumochi

    Smoking does age some people but it doesn't age all smokers ... same with those meth photos that get passed around - only the most dramatic ones are chosen.

  • John

    This isn't some photo trick? You got that right. Can't tell the smoker from the non smoker. Gosh I hate smacking when people eat.

  • avnrulz

    It isn't as apparent as the Meth booking photos, but it was apparent on several who was the smoker.

  • Michael Aldridge

    This article would be much better if it had smell-o-vision, also cancer vision, anti social vision and where's all my money vision. And how can people not tell the difference, admittedly its hard to tell with the man, but the others are clear. Hint, the wrinkly one is the smoker.

  • Gwamma

    I don't know how you can't pick out the smoker....I quit 20 years ago and I'm seeing the signs on my face