does smoking weed make you age

Does Smoking Weed Make You Age Faster, or Does Weed Make You Look Younger?

does smoking weed cause wrinkles

Photo by Shelby Ireland

Does smoking weed make you age? This is one of the biggest debates in the world of marijuana. While some studies into weed have found that it makes you age, other cannabis studies have found the opposite.

And this is why it can make it challenging to make the right decision for your appearance. If you’re worried about whether your decision to smoke pot is prematurely aging you, we have compiled a range of evidence to educate you on the issue.

In this guide, we answer “Does weed make you age?” and questions like, “How does weed affect your physical appearance?”

Does Weed Affect Your Appearance, Or Is it All in Your Head?

Various studies have been conducted into the impacts of cannabis on aging. The University of Western Australia performed a study in 2016 and found that cannabis use made participants look older by up to 11% due to the hardening of arteries.

Recently, a study published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence answered the question, “Does weed age you?” following the results of its 17-year study into cannabis use. They concluded that the inhalation of hydrocarbons within marijuana smoke was responsible for premature facial and body aging.

After analyzing these two studies, it would appear that everything we know about cannabis being responsible for making you look younger is false. But this assessment fails to account for the intricacies of these two studies.

Firstly, neither conclusively said that marijuana use had a causal role in aging. Moreover, none of these studies accounted for the many different ways you can consume cannabis. So, do stoners age faster?

If you do nothing but smoke cannabis, you may experience premature aging after smoking. One of the many pictures of a weed smoker’s face before and after will give you plenty of material. We know this because smoke, in general, has long been cited as bad for the skin.

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Why Smoking is Bad for Your Skin

Fearmongers often put up pictures of the eponymous “weed face” to illustrate why cannabis harms you. But this is not an issue with cannabis but smoke.

According to a study in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, smokers are likelier to experience drooping, sagging eyelids, and sunken jowls. They’re also likelier to experience an uneven complexion and more wrinkles.

This is because smoking decreases your circulation, which reduces oxygen flow to the skin. Regular smokers may experience wrinkles over time as the collagen breaks down. Moreover, pursing your lips to smoke can lead to lines developing in this area of the face.

Regardless of its origins, smoke will never be a positive for the skin. And that’s what most of the above studies focused upon. Thus far, nobody has tried to conduct studies using other forms of cannabis, such as edibles, vapes, or tinctures.

Does Weed Make You Look Younger or Older?

Before you give up weed entirely because you think it makes you look old, there’s also a substantial body of scientific evidence showing that cannabis products may also be used for improving the aging process.

For example, the University of Bonn in Germany explained that while cognitive performance decreases with age, cannabis has been used to reverse this effect successfully. In this animal study, the team managed to retard the aging process.

In another study from 2021, the team behind it found that cannabinoids can alleviate a wide range of chronic conditions relating to advanced age, including arthritis, anxiety, insomnia, and pain.

These studies provide vital evidence showing that weed can have many beneficial effects on people who are concerned about the effects of aging. Unfortunately, this area is lacking in active scientific research funding. Only limited evidence exists in either direction.

But does weed make you look older? For many, even though cannabis has a tremendous number of health benefits, they are worried that their smoking habit could lead to them looking older than they actually are.

does smoking weed make you age

Photo by Elsa Olofsson

Does Weed Automatically Make You Look Old?

Both the cannabinoids CBD and THC act as positives for your body, including by providing anti-oxidant effects. The problem is that these effects are invisible to the naked eye. Does weed make you age faster? It’s not as simple as it sounds.

Everybody ages differently. The human body is not a standardized machine. Various factors will impact how you age, including the following:

  • Genetics – Your genetics play one of the most prominent roles in the physical composition of your skin. Everything from your skin color and sex to ethnicity can influence how you age.
  • Nutrition – Healthy diets have long been the key to better aging. Lowering the number of unsaturated fats in your diet while boosting your vegetable consumption has been associated with less wrinkling for decades.
  • Environment – Do you live in a central metropolitan area? Are you regularly exposed to large amounts of sun? Where you live has a massive impact on the aging process. Factors include soot, exhaust gas exposure from traffic, and the density of the ozone layer.

Understanding this is important because you could have two regular smokers who age entirely differently. None of the studies into aging have accounted for these factors, which is why the idea that weed will automatically make you look old is false.

So Does THC Make You Age Faster, Or Is It Because of Smoking?

All forms of smoke are destructive to the skin. Your skin makes no differentiation between the smoke’s origins. Whether you smoke tobacco and weed or are exposed to smoke regularly as part of your job, this will prematurely age you.

Despite this, separate studies into THC and CBD, the two primary active cannabinoids in weed, have found that they possess anti-aging effects.

Does smoking weed age you? Potentially, but many of the compounds in cannabis are proven to benefit skin health. In fact, in recent years, cosmetic companies have been studying and adding cannabinoids to their products.

Firstly, cannabinoids are noted to possess anti-inflammatory characteristics. For example, studies have shown that cannabinoids can cure the swelling associated with acne and redness caused by other skin conditions.

Additionally, cannabinoids support your body in achieving a healthy balance between the growth of new skin cells and the shedding of old ones. It’s this phenomenon that makes cannabinoids a viable psoriasis treatment.

And the cannabinoid CBD has been shown to combat dry skin, which can also reduce scaly, inflexible complexions. It does this by acting as a barrier to water loss through the skin, which is why CBD is often used in different moisturizers.

Is Weed Bad For Your Skin?

No evidence states that weed is bad for the skin by itself. If anything, cannabinoids have shown themselves to support a healthy appearance. The issue is with smoking itself.

All forms of smoking affect the skin in numerous ways, including:

  • Creating oxidative stress through free radicals.
  • Decreasing the build-up of new collagen.
  • Destroying existing stores of collagen.
  • Damaging the elastin that makes your skin flexible.
  • Promoting skin cancer.

Tobacco smoking is even worse because the ingredients within tobacco naturally contain free radicals. Each time you smoke tobacco, you directly contribute to oxidative stress, which will appear in your appearance.

Does smoking weed age you? It can, but weed doesn’t contain the harmful ingredients that tobacco does. It will still lead to damage to your skin without a good skincare routine, but this impact has nothing to do with the ingredients within cannabis.

Does Smoking Weed Cause Wrinkles?

Does weed make you age faster? Not at all. CBD and THC can help slow aging because of their natural characteristics. But how you consume these cannabinoids will influence how you look.

So far, many potential explanations exist for how smoke impacts the skin. While there remains some disagreement about how precisely smoking can lead to premature aging, there is near unanimous agreement that smoking will reduce your skin’s elasticity.

Smokers also have characteristic wrinkling patterns on their faces. For example, smokers will nearly always have lines around their mouths because of the pursing of the lips. They will also have crow’s feet around their eyes because of the squinting a smoker does when smoke rises toward their eyes.

Generally, smoking results in a vasoconstrictive effect. As your blood vessels constrict while smoking, it cripples the blood supply to your face, meaning that your skin receives fewer nutrients and oxygen.

The aged look of the smoker is universal, which is why smoking weed can cause wrinkles if this is your long-term consumption method.

The answer is in the smoke, not the substance being smoked.

does weed make you look older

Photo by Elsa Olofsson

Does Weed Make Your Face Puffy?

Now we know the answers to “Is smoking weed bad for your skin?” and “Does smoking weed make you age?” can smoking lead to a “puffy” face?

Again, weed benefits your appearance, but the smoke does not. This is because facial puffiness is caused by dehydration and the constriction of the blood vessels. By increasing fluid loss from the body, your body responds by retaining water to prevent further loss.

Once your body attempts to retain more fluids, it leaves your face looking puffy, especially around the eyes.

Does Smoking Weed Make You Age Faster? – How to Prevent Premature Aging

Smoking anything can adversely impact your appearance. Does weed affect your appearance? Depending on how you use it, it can either harm or hurt you.

Moreover, most of the studies above should have accounted for lifestyle. Weed alone is not the only factor in the aging process. And it is this fact that makes most conclusions about marijuana and aging flawed.

If you prefer to smoke cannabis, follow these simple tips to improve your skin health and look younger:

  • Opt for other types of weed consumption, such as edibles, to mitigate the impact of smoking.
  • Ensure you always stay hydrated enough by drinking more water.
  • Clean up your diet to reduce the amount of fatty, greasy foods.
  • Use cannabis-related skincare products to take advantage of the healing power of cannabinoids.
  • Wear sunscreen to limit UV ray exposure.

Apply for a Medical Marijuana Card Today!

Medical marijuana is one of the most potent ways of improving your complexion and staving off many age-related diseases. With the opening up of the commercial cannabis market, more and more states have expanded their medical marijuana programs.

Whether you are dealing with a chronic condition like cancer or a chronic back injury, you could qualify for a medical marijuana card in your state.

Apply for your MMJ card online with Green Health Docs and streamline the process of getting legal marijuana today.


Dr. Anand DugarThis article has been reviewed by Dr. Anand Dugar, an anesthesiologist, pain medicine physician and the founder of Green Health Docs. Graduating from medical school in 2004 and residency in 2008, Dr. Dugar has been a licensed physician for almost 20 years and has been leading the push for medical cannabis nationwide.