How Does Vaping Cause Acne, And Why?

Does Vaping Cause Acne?

With E-cigarettes gaining their popularity as an alternative to tobacco smoking over the past few years, it was only a matter of time before the question popped up:

Does vaping cause acne, or are we dealing with even deeper health issues here?

Because, believe me, there are people who get acne from vaping. I see it on discussion boards and Facebook all the time. The answer is more a matter of figuring out whether it’s the vaping itself that causes it, or if there’s something else at play.

So, is it the vaping? Are there perhaps any side effects that somehow are making our skin break out into the red, bumpy sea? Could it be allergies, or maybe even something extremely toxic?

Keep reading and we’ll find out together – you and me!

What The Heck Is Vaping?

Aerosol. Through an electronic cigarette (or similar device) you inhale and exhale aerosol (or vapor). While some people believe that vaping is the act of “smoking” water vapor, the truth is that you’re actually sucking tiny, fine particles into your lungs.

Vaping is viewed upon as a healthier alternative to smoking, but I’m not so sure about that.

Particles found in e-cigarettes can often contain quite toxic chemicals, which have been linked to very serious diseases such as cancer, heart disease and respiratory problems.

To vape, you mainly need four components in your E-cigarette. There are plenty of customization you can do to your vaping device, but the parts you’ll always need are:

  • Cartridge of E-liquid (or E-juice).
  • A heating device for heating the juice.
  • Battery for powering the heating device.
  • Mouthpiece for inhaling the vaporized E-liquid.

So when the vaping device is activated, the heating device heats up the E-liquid, which vaporizes. The vapor is inhaled through the mouthpiece of the device.

More often than not, the E-juice comes in various flavors. They actually tend to smell surprisingly good, as well.

Fun side note: It always brings me to the giggles when I spot of those vaping “cool guys” (you know which ones I mean – the tall, dark heart breakers) and you can smell their Strawberry Delight from a mile away.

Vape Cloud

Turning Liquids Into Clouds

Before we go any further, I’d just like to say that E-liquids usually contain nicotine. There are those manufactured without any nicotine as well, but those are more of an exception.

So the misconception that E-cigarettes are used by “the big mass” as a nicotine-free alternative is dead wrong. People generally vape as it’s viewed upon as a healthier alternative to tobacco, but I beg to differ. (more on that later)

Other ingredients beyond nicotine are Propylene Glycerol (PG), Vegetable Glycerin (VG), water and flavorings. The amount of PG and VG varies between flavors and brands.

This is because different mixtures of PG and VG results in different vapes. If PG is the dominant ingredient in the E-liquid, the clouds will be thinner and the device will be easier to clean. On the other hand, if the liquid contains more VG, the clouds will be a lot thicker and bigger, but will clog the device faster.

Toxic Fumes

Health Risks of Vaping

  • Dehydration. The Propylene Glycerol (PG) that can be found in all E-liquids pulls moisture from the lower layer of your skin into the top one. This makes your skin appear smooth and soft, which is awesome, but it only works for shorter periods. Longer exposure can often lead to dry skin.
  • Smoker’s Lips. When smoking, you use certain muscles around your mouth (your lips pucker). Keep doing it for too long and the result will be dynamic wrinkles and lost elasticity. Eventually you will develop deep lines around your mouth – a.k.a. smoker’s lips. The same goes for when you’re vaping, as the motion of your lips are identical.
  • Premature Aging. This is directly related to the dehydration of your skin. To maintain a youthful look, your skin needs to stay hydrated. Dehydration often leads to wrinkles, irritation, bags under your eyes and sometimes even inflammation.
  • Decreased Wound Healing. Studies suggest that vaping could reduce your body’s ability to heal wounds in your skin. In one study, tests were made to three skin grafts. They were exposed to e-cigarette smoke, tobacco smoke and no smoke respectively. There was a significant increase in tissue death among those grafts exposed to either e-cigarette or tobacco smoke, compared to the no-smoke control.
  • Second-Hand Vape. When vaping, the air around you gets polluted (not as much as with tobacco smoke, but still). This affects people around you and may inflict aforementioned side effects on them.
  • Heart, lung, liver and brain damage. Studies have shown that the metallic heating coil in a vape device may emit metals that is toxic when exposed for longer periods. These include chromium, lead, zinc, manganese and nickel.

How Could Vaping Affect Your Acne?

The first concern I have is the dehydration from vaping, which could be messing up your sebum production. When you have dry skin, your body will try to compensate for that by over-producing oil, and that tends to clog your pores and cause breakouts.

Furthermore, decreased wound healing will slow down the process of repairing damaged skin. This is the process that also takes care of getting rid of acne scars and dark spots. If you’re unlucky, your scars could end up a lot bigger than they otherwise would “have to” be.

Not to mention the toxic metals. As you may be aware, some of these metals are normally recommended for a healthier skin and reduced acne (chromium and zinc, for example). However, they’re not as good when you’re exposed to them for long periods, which usually is the case for vapers.

One metal that’s got my warning bells ringing is the nickel. The outbreak from nickel allergy can commonly look very similar to acne, with redness and bumps all over your skin. So if you get what looks like acne around your mouth or on your chin, you might want to consult a dermatologist to do a patch test for allergies, before considering using any acne products or medication.

Vaping Device

What’s Next?

Vaping devices have been available for us since 2007, but it’s only recently they’ve gained popularity. It’s very often viewed upon as a healthier way of smoking; or a way to “step down” to finally quit altogether.

I’m not convinced that this is the case, and it’s only recently we’ve been starting to see studies being done around the subject. I believe that there will be more studies published in the near future, which are focusing on health risks related to vaping.

At this moment, nobody knows whether vaping causes acne, but there are studies and reports pointing towards that actually being the case. However, vaping has shown to cause dry skin and that in itself is known to trigger an overproduction of sebum, which is a comedogenic (clogs your pores).

Toxic metals that get into your lungs and skin are obviously not healthy, and should perhaps be of more concern than acne at this moment. On the other hand, acne could be a way for the body to indicate that something is seriously wrong on the inside. We just don’t know what, yet.

I guess my point is that regardless of whether you smoke or vape – acne should probably be the least of your concerns.

What is your experience with acne related to vaping? Do you vape? Have you had any breakouts since you started? Please share your story by dropping a comment below!

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14 Reply to “How Does Vaping Cause Acne, And Why?

  1. Interesting – I’ve been vaping since I gave up smoking about 5 years ago and I’ve never had a problem with acne appearing in any way, shape or form. 

    Perhaps it has something to do with the younger generation vaping – maybe this is the cause behind their acne reaction(their age?)

    1. Hi Chris,

      Of course, everybody reacts differently to vaping. I wrote this post to raise awareness about the subject and point out potential causes and dangers.

      Hormonal acne caused by puberty can definitely be a factor here, especially among younger vapers, but I see this happening among adults as well.

      I’m glad you’re not seeing any side-effects from vaping, and kudos on getting rid of the tobacco sticks 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!

  2. My cousin is vaping. I didn’t know that it can cause acne, I have to send your article to him. One strange thing happened when we bought some new liquids and one of them numbed his hands for an hour or two. After some tests, he discovered the cause, but he went to the doctor really scared. Time to raise awareness.

    Thank you for bringing to our attention.

    1. HI Dany,

      That doesn’t sound very good at all. I can definitely understand that it frightened him. May I ask what the cause for the numbness was then? Was it the vaping or something else?

      Thanks for sharing your story!

  3. Exemplary article! I would agree with you that getting acne from vaping would be the least of concerns. Sometimes I think it should not be allowed while driving as well. I see so many people using these while driving and all you can see is a big cloud of smoke inside of their vehicle then slowly escaping through an opening from their window. I fear that in another decade or so studies will show that vaping may be as bad or worse than its alternative to smoking cigarettes.

    Your site is awesome BTW! If someone decides to continue vaping and notices an increase in acne what advice would you suggest to control the acne?

    1. Hey Paul, 

      I can only imagine what it looks like, seeing a car with an enormous cloud coming out of the cracked driver’s window. Maybe annie isn’t so much of a concern at that very moment. I’d be more concerned in trying to find the very road I’m driving on. 

      Like you say, studies will most likely reveal more concerns related to health and wellbeing. Time will tell. 

      If you get acne from vaping, I’d recommend that you seek professional help to rule out allergies in the first hand. Also be sure you have a solid cleansing routine, for the morning and evening respectively.

      Thanks for your kind words and I hope to see you again soon!  🙂

  4. Interesting topic to discuss around “side-effects” of vaping. This happens to be one of the first articles that I have seen about vaping related to acne. As an ex-vapor, I didn’t notice anything related to acne issues. I could see though where there is some potential for that to be an issue though after reading this article and thinking about it.

    I have found that I more acne issues related to stress and rubbing the widow’s peak on my forehead 🙂 Instead of worrying about acne from vaping I need to address that issue for acne!

    1. Hi Scott!

      Thanks. I’m glad you like it! The fact is that side-effects of vaping are still pretty unknown as there haven’t been much research made around the subject yet.

      There are definitely lots of vapers who don’t experience any side-effects, but there are also those who do. (such as acne)

      Rubbing your face, especially with unwashed hands, can definitely be a cause of acne. Stay away from your face! 🙂

      And staying away from stress is even more important, not only to reduce your acne, but to improve your overall health. However, everybody’s life situation looks different and killing stress is easier said than done.

      One thing that has been shown to cause a lot of stress is digital availability. If you’re constantly reachable, every single minute of the day, you’re never really given a chance to wind down and spend time with yourself or family.

      Turn off your computer, shut down your phone, disconnect the TV. At least try it once in a while and appreciate the time off. Don’t always be available for conversation. 🙂

      I hope you’re having a great day, and thanks for stopping by! Feel free to return any time!

  5. Interesting article on an important topic so thanks for bringing this to our attention. 

    I do not vape and it beats me why anyone would inhale whatever is in these devices, or cigarettes for that matter but that is a different discussion. 

    The truth is that the side effects of vaping are still 99.9% unknown so I am sure that it may cause acne as well.

    1. Hi Lars,

      I share your opinion about smoking / e-cigs. I’m not really a fan of either as I believe one’s lungs can be put to way better use. As you say, that’s a completely different discussion, though.

      As mentioned in the article, people are getting acne when vaping. I’m interested to find it whether it’s the vaping itself, or the related components (vaping device, for example) that’s the true culprit. Looking forward to reading more about this.

      Thanks for dropping a comment. Feel free to come back any time! 🙂

  6. Dear Mike,

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge on vaping. I understand now that there are so many ingredients in the electronic cigarettes. I thought it contains only nicotine and in fact it have so many other potential toxins.

    The health risks you described in the post are warnings to all of us. Although the burning toxins in the tobacco cigarettes are significantly reduced, the toxins from electronic ones are not completely eliminated but maybe better.

    Human beings are being carried out as a real life experiment and we will see the outcome of electronic cigarettes on human health in the coming years.



    1. Hey Anthony,

      I like your perspective of how humans are being used as experiments to determine the severity of the e-cigarette’s downsides. Even though it may not be consciously, I can see how it might seem that way.

      There are toxins in both cigarettes and vaping devices. However, whether e-cigarettes cause acne requires more research before a conclusion can be drawn.

      I’m following, closely, the development of research revolving this matter. People are getting acne from vaping, but there’s still no hard evidence that it’s the vaping itself that causes it. Judging by the information we know now, allergy may very well be the culprit.

      Thanks for your input and quite an interesting perspective. I hope to see you again!

  7. Hi! Thank you for this very interesting post. I have been researching a bit about the negative effects of vaping. And I know this post will impress many teenagers.

    I believe awareness is a first step. Detecting the problem. And you have done a very good job doing that! This is worth sharing on social media!

    1. Hello Henry,

      Thank you for those kind words. What’s the reason for your research? Do you know somebody who’s vaping? A teenager, perhaps?

      Vaping is done by so many, so yes, social media could be a way to go. It’s a good way to raise awareness, like you say. However, I think getting people to stop requires a lot more than that. Just look at all the warnings revolving tobacco products and how many who are still smoking them.

      Acne is definitely a problem among teenagers. If the case would be that vaping causes, or at least increases, acne then teens who wish for their skin to be clear should consider quitting. But we really don’t know if it causes acne yet. (Personally, I don’t think teenagers should be smoking/vaping anyway, but that’s not a topic for this website.) 

      Hope to see you again soon. Take care, Henry!

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