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Health

Trying to guess which twin smokes is the perfect way to help you quit

Nobody would call smoking “glamorous” after seeing these comparisons.

smokers versus non-smokers, smokers skin, twins
Image via Wolters Kluwer Health.

Which twin smoked?

This article originally appeared on 11.01.16

It's not revolutionary news that smoking wreaks havoc on your body in different ways. More often than not, however, the focus of anti-smoking campaigns is on your internal health, citing emphysema, heart disease, and lung cancer, to name just a few consequences.

While the superficial effects may not be as lethal, appealing to people's sense of vanity can have a powerful effect as this clever gallery below shows. Twins, only one of whom smokes, sit side by side, showing the profound damage smoking can cause to your face, hair, and teeth.

The twins' circumstances vary in each set of pictures, but the differences and effects are undeniable. In some instances, one of the twins never smoked. In others, the "smoking" twin had smoked for at least five years longer than the other "non-smoking" twin.

Though they're not common knowledge, the effects of smoking on your appearance are predictable and consistent. You can identify a smoker with ease if you know what you're looking for. Harmful smoke, dehydration, and even the heat from a burning cigarette can damage your complexion, hair, and eyes. The photos below helpfully point out the symptoms and effects on the smoking twin.


The photos here were taken from those of 79 pairs of identical twins at the Twins Days Festival in Twinsburg, Ohio. Though they weren't taken with this use in mind, that allows them to serve as an even more powerful testament to the effects as perceived by casual observers.

1. The eyes are a strong "tell" if someone's a smoker or not. In this photo, the smoker is the man on the right. He has smaller, more sunken eyes and carries more wrinkles throughout his face than his twin on the left. You'll also notice his hairline has receded further than his brother's. That's a little-known though hardly surprising effect of smoking habitually.

2. Here, the difference is profound. Though they're the same age, they look almost like they represent different generations. The smoking twin on the right has done so for 16 years, and it's manifested in a number of ways. Most noticeable is the pervasive discoloration of her skin compared to her twin on the left. Less noticeable, but still apparent, is the damage done to her lips, eyes, and even her hair. It's difficult to believe they're even related, let alone twins.

3. This comparison is less glaring but still apparent. The twin on the left is the smoker. You can see many more pronounced wrinkles on her forehead, under her eyes, and around her nose. There are also pronounced bags under her eyes.

4. In this comparison, the smoking twin only smokes about two cigarettes per day, so the difference will be less profound. The twin on the right is the smoker. The differences are on the subtle side, mostly the more damaged hair and the squintier eyes.


5. Based on what you've read in the earlier side by side pics, you might be able to ID the right twin as the smoker due to the discolored and receding hair as well as the aged skin.

6. These two twins are both elderly, so the differences are slightly less pronounced. Though the left twin has more graying hair, it's the right twin that's the smoker. She's got a droopier face, especially on the outside of the eyes. The wrinkles are also more pronounced in the brow and upper lip.

7. Though the two sisters here are also older, it's easier to distinguish the smoker. The left sister bears the hallmarks all over her skin. Her cheek, outer eye, and neck all look weathered from her habit. Not only is she more wrinkled, but the skin has begun to discolor from the fair tone her sister has.

8. Here it's pretty difficult to tell. The woman on the left is the smoker. She sports slightly discolored lips that are upon inspection, more wrinkled than her sister's. Since the lips are the most proximate to the smoke, they are a pretty telling feature when it comes to identifying smokers.

The pics above show a lot of singular traits that can call out a smoker, but it can be a lot more simple than that. Speaking to the NY Daily News, dermatologist Elizabeth Tanzi from George Washington Medical Center dispenses with the jargon, stating, "Smoking makes you look old. That's all there is to it."


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1989 video brings back strong memories for Gen Xers who came of age in the '80s.

It was the year we saw violence in Tiananmen Square and the dismantling of the Berlin Wall. The year we got Meg Ryan in "When Harry Met Sally" and Michael Keaton in Tim Burton's "Batman." The year "Seinfeld" and "The Simpsons" debuted on TV, with no clue as to how successful they would become. The year that gave us New Kids on the Block and Paula Abdul while Madonna and Janet Jackson were enjoying their heyday.

The jeans were pegged, the shoulders were padded and the hair was feathered and huge. It was 1989—the peak of Gen X youth coming of age.

A viral video of a group of high school students sitting at their desks in 1989—undoubtedly filmed by some geeky kid in the AV club who probably went on to found an internet startup—has gone viral across social media, tapping straight into Gen X's memory banks. For those of us who were in high school at the time, it's like hopping into a time machine.

The show "Stranger Things" has given young folks of today a pretty good glimpse of that era, but if you want to see exactly what the late '80s looked like for real, here it is:

Oh so many mullets. And the Skid Row soundtrack is just the icing on this nostalgia cake. (Hair band power ballads were ubiquitous, kids.)

I swear I went to high school with every person in this video. Like, I couldn't have scripted a more perfect representation of my classmates (which is funny considering that this video came from Paramus High School in New Jersey and I went to high school on the opposite side of the country).

Comments have poured in on Reddit from both Gen Xers who lived through this era and those who have questions.

First, the confirmations:

"Can confirm. I was a freshman that year, and not only did everyone look exactly like this (Metallica shirt included), I also looked like this. 😱😅"

"I graduated in ‘89, and while I didn’t go to this school, I know every person in this room."

"It's like I can virtually smell the AquaNet and WhiteRain hairspray from here...."

"I remember every time you went to the bathroom you were hit with a wall of hairspray and when the wind blew you looked like you had wings."

Then the observations about how differently we responded to cameras back then.

"Also look how uncomfortable our generation was in front of the camera! I mean I still am! To see kids now immediately pose as soon as a phone is pointed at them is insanity to me 🤣"

"Born in 84 and growing up in the late 80’s and 90’s, it’s hard to explain to younger people that video cameras weren’t everywhere and you didn’t count on seeing yourself in what was being filmed. You just smiled and went on with your life."

Which, of course, led to some inevitable "ah the good old days" laments:

"Life was better before the Internet. There, I said it."

"Not a single cell phone to be seen. Oh the freedom."

"It's so nice to be reminded what life was like before cell phones absorbed and isolated social gatherings."

But perhaps the most common response was how old those teens looked.

"Why do they all look like they're in their 30's?"

"Everyone in this video is simultaneously 17 and 49 years old."

"Now we know why they always use 30 y/o actors in high school movies."

As some people pointed out, there is an explanation for why they look old to us. It has more to do with how we interpret the fashion than how old they actually look.

Ah, what a fun little trip down memory lane for those of us who lived it. (Let's just all agree to never bring back those hairstyles, though, k?)