There are many reasons you probably shouldn’t be doing cocaine.
It’s a class A drug, for one thing, meaning that you could face up to seven years in prison if you’re caught holding on to a baggie or are just about to sniff up a line.
It’s also not very good for you. Cocaine speeds up your heart rate, which can lead to fits or heart attacks. Snorting coke can damage the cartilage in your nose. There’s a real risk of a lethal overdose, especially if mixed with alcohol.
Oh, and it’s an expensive habit that’s destroying the planet.
But even with knowledge of all these bad bits, plenty of people are racking up every weekend or getting the coke in for every trip to the pub. It’s one of those socially acceptable drug habits, not like MDMA or ketamine, which allows habitual users to think there’s no harm in taking the drug every weekend or so.
FYI, even a weekend habit poses the risks above. But we also know those risks might not be enough to make you steer clear.
What might make you a bit wary is the havoc cocaine can wreak on your skin.
We live in a time when skincare is highly important. People upload selfies wearing sheet masks, discussions of AHAs and BHAs are standard, and whereas once upon a time it was okay to just scrub your face with a supermarket exfoliator, these days announcing you don’t use a facial oil will elicit shock and horror.
Skincare is vital, and we’re willing to invest a lot of time and money into it.
All that jade rolling and dermabrasion is fairly pointless, though, if you’ve got a weekend coke habit.
How does taking cocaine affect your skin?
As we mentioned, cocaine is bad for your health. It affects your entire body – including your skin, the largest organ in the body.
Effects will be more pronounced if you use cocaine longterm or in large amounts, but even occasional use can have an impact.
Dr Clare Morrison, GP and medical advisor at Medexpress, tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Cocaine is a ‘vasoconstrictor’, meaning that it reduces the blood supply to cells in the body, reducing their levels of nutrients and oxygen.
‘The cheeks may appear sunken and emaciated, making one look prematurely aged. The skin may look pale and puffy.’
Think about it: if you can’t get handy nutrients and oxygen to your skin, it’s going to start looking pretty washed out and dreary. If you dream of a natural glow, doing coke will tear that to shreds.
The reduction of blood supply to your skin can mean it doesn’t heal or regenerate as quickly, and won’t absorb active ingredients as readily. So if you’re slathering your face with retinol after a coke binge, you’re wasting your creams and your money – it won’t make its way into the cells to have a proper effect.
That lack of regeneration we mentioned is pretty key, no matter your skin type. Regeneration involves cell turnover, which is essential for anti-ageing benefits as well as the reduction of blemishes. If your skin isn’t functioning the way it should, you’ll end up with dead skin cells lingering around and clogging up your pores.
Skin doctor Nina Bal, skin doctor and founder of http://www.facialsculpting.co.uk, explains: ‘Using cocaine will also slow down your skin’s ability to heal, meaning it won’t regenerate as fast as usual. This can result in premature ageing and worsening of acne.
‘Even if you think you don’t abuse cocaine, perhaps just consuming a small amount at the weekend, this will still have a major impact on the skin.
‘Not only will it cause skin to become dry and dehydrated, as well as increase your chance of breakouts and rashes, but it can have a detrimental impact such as skin necrosis, which means the skin is literally dead.
‘Cocaine can kill the skin cells which can lead to red/brownish patches on this skin. The reason this happens is because taking cocaine reduces the lack of oxygen and blood supply, and as a result it damages the white cells of the blood – leading to skin necrosis.’
The contraction of blood vessels as well as increased inflammation can also trigger redness, skin irritation, eczema, and even the appearance of ulcers.
And because wounds will take longer to heal, you may end up with scarring.
This isn’t just a problem for people with preexisting skin conditions, to be clear. Dr Bal says anyone can react to cocaine with rashes, irritation, and blisters.
‘Cocaine use can result in ulcers appearing all over the skin,’ she warns.
‘It can cause purpuric rashes especially on ears, nose, cheeks and extremities with a red (erythema) border. So blisters, sores and discolouration of the skin are extremely common among cocaine users.’
Then there’s the impact cocaine has on how you treat your skin.
First off, you’re perhaps less likely to stick to your skincare regimen after a heavy night on the sniff. When you’re up ’til the early hours, washing off your makeup, double-cleansing, exfoliating, and moisturising doesn’t feel like much of a priority. Do that every weekend and you’ll end up with clogged pores, signs of premature ageing, breakouts, dullness, and dryness.
Cocaine can also make you more inclined to pick at your skin, increasing the likelihood of damage and infection.
Dr Kaplan tells Metro.co.uk that he regularly sees patients who abuse cocaine or other amphetamines presenting with signs of dermatillomania – an obsession with picking at the skin.
‘Sometimes they have the sensation of bugs crawling on or in their skin, called delusions of parasitosis,’ says Dr Kaplan. ‘I have seen patients use needles and blades to cut their skin open to remove the bugs. They will bring pieces of lint or dead skin to my office, believing they are bugs.
‘Other times, patients just have tingling or itching on their skin, resulting in deep scratches and excoriations.
‘They often focus on tiny imperfections on their skin, and pick at them until they bleed, causing scars and discoloration.
‘This leads to a cycle of even more picking, where they scratch the scabs that occurred from their initial picking. The constant scratching and picking of skin leads to inflammation, ulcers, scarring, and pigmentation.’
You don’t have to be off your face or having hallucinations to pick at your skin. Doing a line or two may just reduce your inhibitions and allow you to absentmindedly scratch at your face without realising – which, again, introduces dirt and damage to your skin.
Essentially, cocaine is bad for your skin in itself, but also likely makes you engage in other habits that aren’t great for your skin, either, like missing out on sleep, not staying hydrated, or failing to give your face a proper wash before bed.
If you dream of glorious skin, even the occasional weekend coke binges do need to stop.
‘Ultimately, drug abuse weakens the immune system, causing dryness, wrinkles and skin ageing,’ explains Dr Kaplan. ‘Long-term, skin develops scars, sallowness, and an unhealthy, uneven, aged, wrinkled complexion.’
That’s us told.
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