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What are Environmental Stressors and Aggressors?

Learn about the various environmental stressors and aggressors that can negatively impact your skin, and discover effective strategies to protect and maintain its youthful appearance.
28 May 2023


Article Overview

  • Environmental aggressors refer to external factors that can negatively impact the skin, such as UV radiation, pollution, and infrared radiation.
  • SkinCeuticals antioxidant serums, such as C E Ferulic, are formulated to protect the skin from environmental aggressors and prevent visible signs of aging.
  • Antioxidant serums help defend the skin against the damaging effects of environmental aggressors, reducing the risk of premature aging and maintaining a healthier complexion.
  • Incorporating an antioxidant serum into your skincare routine is proven to enhance the overall health and appearance of skin, protecting it from environmental damage and promoting a more youthful complexion.

We are surrounded by environmental aggressors that can have a negative impact on the skin, both indoors and out. For example, air conditioning and artificial heat within our homes, offices, and other places we spend ample time often lacks humidity, which can cause the skin to become dehydrated. Although the effects these particular indoor environmental stressors for skin can often be easily remedied with a humidifier and moisturizing skincare, other damaging environmental aggressors can be unavoidable and out of our control.


What Environmental Aggressors Affect the Skin?

The sun is often the first factor that comes to mind when thinking about environmental stressors for skin, and UV rays can have a significant impact on its health and appearance. This is why it’s important to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen daily and reapply throughout the day. However, sun protection alone doesn’t provide complete protection against this environmental aggressor. In fact, sunscreen only shields the skin from 55% of damaging free radicals generated by UVA and UVB rays. (Keep reading to learn more about free radicals—and how to get the most comprehensive defense against environmental stressors.)

Other types of environmental stressors for skin include ground-level ozone that forms when sunlight reacts with chemicals in the air, and pollution such as car exhaust, industrial emissions, and cigarette smoke. The skin is one of the body’s primary lines of defense against these environmental aggressors, and potential skin damage increases as air quality declines.


How Free Radicals From Environmental Aggressors Impact the Skin

The one thing these types of environmental stressors have in common is that they lead to the formation of free radicals. These unstable molecules generated by UV rays, ozone, and pollution seek balance by reacting with neighboring molecules and “stealing” electrons. Within the skin and cells throughout the body, free radicals are highly destructive and this disruption amplifies over time. The cascade effect induced by free radicals can result in direct damage to a cell’s DNA. Since cellular DNA is the blueprint for essential cell functioning, including division, this damage can be cumulative.

Long-term exposure to free radicals generated by UV rays, ozone, and pollution contributes to skin aging. One of the most prevalent effects of free radicals is the degradation of collagen and the loss of skin plumpness and firmness, as well as the formation of wrinkles. Free-radical damage can also contribute to skin discoloration—and free radicals can lead to oil oxidation that can play a role in breakouts.

A SkinCeuticals study examined the effects of environmental aggressors for skin such as UV rays, ozone, and pollution by simulating a typical urban environment. This eye-opening research found that the free radicals generated by these three sources had a significantly higher impact on the skin than a combination of just two or one alone.



How Antioxidants Protect Skin From Environmental Aggressors

Free radical exposure depletes the skin’s natural antioxidant defenses, which is why supplementing the skin with a daily topical vitamin C antioxidant is essential for short- and long-term skin health—as well as its appearance. A properly formulated antioxidant works by donating an electron to each unstable free radical. By stabilizing free radicals, antioxidants help stop the process that can potentially lead to skin aging.

A key ingredient for mitigating the effects environmental stressors can have on the skin is l-ascorbic acid (pure vitamin C). This particular form of vitamin C has been scientifically proven to provide effective protection against environmental free radicals while improving visible signs of photoaging.

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Skinceuticals Antioxidants Fight Environmental Aggressors

All SkinCeuticals topical vitamin C antioxidant serums are formulated with the ideal concentration of L-ascorbic acid and at the pH necessary to penetrate the skin. We offer formulations for specific skin types and concerns that provide optimal protection against free radicals generated by the spectrum of environmental stressors that can impact the skin.

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C E Ferulic

Ideal for: Dry skin, fine lines, and wrinkles
This award-winning patented formula with vitamin C, vitamin E, and ferulic acid improves the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, loss of firmness, and other visible signs of skin aging and sun damage. Research has shown that C E Ferulic reduces markers of free-radical damage due to UV light, ozone, and pollution within the skin by up to 41%.


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Phloretin CF

Ideal for: Discoloration
With a combination of vitamin C, phloretin, and ferulic acid, this antioxidant shields skin from environmental aggressors as it improves the appearance of fine lines, discoloration, and overall skin tone. To help you remember, associate the “P” in Phloretin with pigment


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Silymarin CF

Ideal for: Oily and acne-prone skin
This daily topical antioxidant serum for oily skin and blemish-prone skin provides protection against the free radicals that cause oil oxidation (which creates a favorable environment for blemish formation) as well as premature skin aging. This targeted antioxidant serum also helps minimize oil while refining skin texture, enhancing skin clarity, and improving the appearance of fine lines.


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Serum 10 AOX+

Ideal for: Sensitive skin and first-time vitamin C users
This daily topical antioxidant serum for oily skin and blemish-prone skin provides protection against the free radicals that cause oil oxidation (which creates a favorable environment for blemish formation) as well as premature skin aging. This targeted antioxidant serum also helps minimize oil while refining skin texture, enhancing skin clarity, and improving the appearance of fine lines.



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How to Get Optimal Protection Against All Types of Environmental Stressors

When used together, a topical vitamin C antioxidant serum and broad-spectrum sunscreen are proven to reduce the damaging effects of free radicals and shield skin from environmental aggressors—and together help prevent the premature development of fine lines, wrinkles, and discoloration caused by external factors.


To discover the ideal skincare regimen for your unique skin that includes an antioxidant serum and sunscreen to defend against the potential effects that environmental aggressors can have on the skin, use our online Routine Finder, visit one of our SkinCeuticals SkinLab locations, or schedule an appointment with a SkinCeuticals Skincare Professional for a one-on-one consultation.

Next: Which Antioxidant Serum is Right for You?


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