Cannabis Science

Does Smoking Weed Make You Look Older?

You’re not alone if you notice that your smile lines are more prominent or your forehead has more wrinkles than you last remembered. More than half of the country use some sort of anti-aging product because they want to hold on to their youth for as long as possible. If that resonates with you. Chances are you’ve been doing a ton of research on what to avoid and what to add to your beauty regime. You may come across some sources that say smoking weed is to blame for looking older. But does smoking weed make you look older or is it just a myth? Here’s what we know. 

Photo: Unsplash

Does Weed Make You Look Older?

If you’re smoking weed moderately or every once in a while, chances are, it’s not making you look older. 

Dr. Chaudhry, a UK board-certified dermatologist, tells us that consuming marijuana heavily may make you look older. 

“In my experience treating patients over the years and based on what I’ve read, there is a link between heavy marijuana use and premature skin aging. Now this is just my personal observation, but those patients who smoke cannabis frequently, like multiple times a day for years, often seem to develop wrinkles, sagging, dull skin, and other aging signs earlier than non-smokers.”

The next question you probably have is: Why?

According to Dr. Chaudhry, the smoke damages your skin over time.

“My theory is that all that smoke inhalation just takes a cumulative toll – it’s not good for your lungs, and it doesn’t seem to be good for your skin either. You’re essentially just exposing yourself to a ton of free radicals and toxins every time you take a hit. Over years of daily use, I think it really starts degrading collagen and elastin levels, and you lose that youthful elasticity.”

If you’re not ready to give up marijuana in exchange for youthful skin, you may not have to. 

You can either smoke less or find other ways to consume marijuana.

mushroom skull bong feb sale


“Occasional use doesn’t seem to be too detrimental, according to research. It’s chronic heavy usage that appears really accelerate aging. So if you’re worried about maintaining your youth, you may want to go easy on the joints or consider alternatives like edibles. Moderation and balance is key, as with most things!”

What Does the Research Say? 

A 2022 study supports what Dr. Chaudhry is saying. The study followed participants who consumed marijuana from age 13 to age 30 and concluded that marijuana consumption predicted epigenetic changes that are linked to accelerated aging. 

By the way, epigenetics refers to how external factors, such as your environment or behavior, can affect how your genes work. 

The study proposes that inhaling hydrocarbons from marijuana smoke may be the reason, but more research is needed to understand the mechanism behind the linkage. 

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) gets into more detail.

The CDC says that “Smoking can result in epigenetic changes. For example, at certain parts of the AHRR gene, smokers tend to have less DNA methylation than non-smokers.”

While the CDC may have been referring to cigarette smoking, it’s safe to assume it’s the same reason for marijuana smoke since they have similar effects on the skin. 

In addition, Bobby Buka, dermatologist and director of Greenwich Village Dermatology, tells Yahoo that weed may worsen certain inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema. 

Fortunately, the CDC says changes to your skin due to smoke may not be permanent. 

“After quitting smoking, former smokers can begin to have increased DNA methylation at this gene. Eventually, they can reach levels similar to those of non-smokers. In some cases, this can happen in under a year, but the length of time depends on how long and how much someone smoked before quitting.”

Can Marijuana Make You Look Younger? 

If you’re not smoking weed, it could help you to look younger for longer.

How? 

It’s anti-oxidant properties, of course.

Buka tells Yahoo, “Antioxidants neutralize the free radicals so they are less able to glom onto collagen.”

To provide some context, free radicals can wreak havoc on your skin by preventing your skin from replenishing its cells. The result is aging skin.

Therefore, the antioxidants you can get from consuming weed can prevent the free radicals from accelerating the appearance of aging. 

A 2013 study says both tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) both act as antioxidants; however, THC seems to be the stronger one. 

Yes, as Buka points out, moisturizers with cannabis oil could be great for your skin. 

Another way that cannabis may be great for your skin is because it reduces stress. 

Buka tells Yahoo that stress affects your skin quality, so if marijuana helps keep your stress levels down, then it can lead to better skin. 

“In terms of your skin, a compromised immune system can lead to chronic inflammation, acne, and the deterioration of collagen and elastin. So, if pot helps you get your mellow on, your skin will be happier, too.”

The same concept can be applied to sleep, too.

If weed helps you get a good night’s sleep, it could be doing your skin a favor.

Raffles Medical Group says that while you’re asleep, your skin makes more new collagen. In addition, lack of sleep can cause dehydrated skin, making fine lines more prominent. 

Takeaway

So, does smoking weed make you look older? It definitely can. Smoke is not good for your skin. However, consuming weed in other forms could actually ward off premature signs of aging due to its antioxidant properties. Weed could indirectly be good for your skin because it reduces stress and promotes sleep.

author-avatar

About Trevann

Trevann is Stoner Rotation’s Jamaica-based lead writer for the Science section of our cannabis blog. She graduated with honors receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular Biology from the University of West Indies, Mona. For the last three years, she has covered some of the biggest questions around cannabis and health underpinned with research from supporting studies, medical journals and scholarly articles. Got something on your mind? You can reach her at [email protected].