Boots No 7 Protect and Repair Serum

I wrote this article for my old website in 2007. As it has proved one of  my most popular posts here it is again even though it is a bit out of date now.

The skincare and beauty industries in Britain have been in a frenzy since the broadcast of a BBC Horizon programme in April. A skin cream was highlighted by Professor Christopher Griffiths, one of the UK’s top dermatologists, which actually does what it is claimed to do. The product is both made by and exclusively sold by Boots – and the product has vanished from the shelves of their shops up and down the country. The media have had a field day with press articles about the cream, interviews with the scientists behind it and even coverage on television and the radio. There have even been some unusual angles. I was amused by one report of the queues outside Boots was mainly men. (I think they were stocking up to sell it on Ebay).

So have Boots banished wrinkles forever? Should you track down this cream and pay any amount of money for it?

Well this is my personal view. I think the Boots product is a good product and it will help minimise wrinkles to some extent. I think the price is okay, but I wouldn’t pay a great deal more. You also need to have the right kind of wrinkles. If your skin is already pretty okay, this won’t make it look any better than it already is. And if you have really bad wrinkles I doubt very much that any improvement will be noticeable. You will get a particularly good effect if you skin is on the dry side, is fair and if you have very fine lines – the type you have to get really close to to notice.
Moisturising skin increases the thickness of the upper layer of the skin. This will tend to reduce the size of any wrinkles. Any good moisturiser will have this effect and most people know about this from personal experience. Creams that have a high oil content are the most efficient. Another trick well known to cosmetic formulators is to include a water-soluble polymer. There are hundreds to chose from but carbomer is the most popular. This is also a useful thickener.

The way these polymers seem to work is that they form layers on the skin. As they dry out they contract, and this seems to pull the skin tighter giving it a more elastic and youthful appearance.

The unusual ingredient in the Boots product, and the one that I think explains it surprisingly good effect, is the pentapeptide. Pentapeptides are water-soluble polymers but of a very particular type. These are a fairly recent inovation, only being around for five or six years. They seem to work the way that other water-soluble polymers do, but more efficiently. It is possible that they have other beneficial properties too, but I like to stick to things that can definitely be proved to be effective.

The name of the material to look for on the ingredient list on the packet is Palmatoyl pentapeptide-3. There is another material around that I think should work just as well, which is Acetyl hexapeptide-8. This is made by a different chemical company from the one behind the active in the Boots cream, and they have published their efficacy data in a scientific journal. It looks pretty reasonable, though I can’t stress enough that these things only work to reduce fairly small wrinkles.

The Boots product isn’t the only one on the market containing the ‘magic’ingredient. You can look on the ingredient listings and find out yourself if you want to give them a try. I notice that spokespeople for Boots have made the point that the way the cream is formulated is important, and this is true. It is possible to formulate a cream that prevents the full benefits of the active ingredients from working, or that doesn’t contain enough. We know that Boots have got it right so maybe that is the one to stick with for now.

Update 26.5.08 Boots are now selling the No 7 range including the Protect and Repair Serum at half price in a promotion. I think we can now officially declare this manic episode is over.

Update 1.5.09 I have done a review of a clinical study that has been done on this product.

Update 3.5.16 This is now very old news and this post gets almost no views, but it is my oldest bit of blogging so I will leave it up for old time’s sake.

11 thoughts on “Boots No 7 Protect and Repair Serum

  1. kimk

    I live in the US and have bought this serum here. From what I see they changed the name to No7 Restore & Renew.Could you tell me if they have changed any of the ingredients also.I do like it and have seen a more even color to my skin. I am 61 and really have no wrinkles except the 11 between my eyes and that is not too deep at all.I would like to know which one of their products to use for firmness.That seems to be my only problem.I do not want to have surgery for that.I have always used something on my skin always looking for something that works well. I do like this serum it’s nice.

    Thanks,
    Kim

  2. Colin Post author

    Hi Kim, thanks for your comment. I don’t know how well distributed Boots products are in the US. Here in the UK Boots is a bit of a national institution with branches on every high street. They have quite a few own brands that are generally only sold in their own stores. The No7 range has been going for years, as long as I can remember and has many products that have been changed quite a lot over the years. It is a reasonable range generally and at least over here tends to be good quality products at a reasonable price. As you can imagine they are quite popular.

    I am afraid I don’t know for certain but I haven’t heard that they have changed the name or the ingredients anywhere. Is it possible you have a different product? The ingredient listing should contain Palmatoyl pentapeptide-3?

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  8. Colin

    Thanks Rebekka, what an interesting article. Peptides are interesting because the rationale for using them is very far fetched but there is some tenuous evidence that they do in fact do something. But I think the ASA are on pretty solid ground here. The size of the effect in the papers and data I have seen is pretty small and even if the claims made for them are technically true I don’t think they are what the adverts are leading people to believe.

    I have another reason for disliking this particular advert. I can understand why well turned out attractive women with impressive sounding titles like ‘beauty editor’ are used to sell these products. I realise that a slightly overweight permanently dishevelled old geezer like me would not convince anyone. But I actually do read papers like the one she flashes briefly in that ad. Obviously nobody asks me to go on telly. It just cheeses me off.

  9. Stasya

    “The way these polymers seem to work is that they form layers on the skin. As they dry out they contract, and this seems to pull the skin tighter giving it a more elastic and youthful appearance.”

    I presume that the effect the Boots one has is only a temporary, cosmetic one then? Or would continuous usage and thus continuous skin pulling result in a change in the number of future wrinkles? I’d imagine that if your skin was pulled for a period of time and then you stopped using the product, your skin elasticity might be affected somewhat.

    Thanks 🙂

  10. Christine

    If anyone is still interested in trying boots (No7) Protect & Perfect beauty Serum they now sell the line at Target in the US! I would recommend trying it, they even have the “intense” version of the beauty serum now! It’s about $24.99. If your wrinkles are a bit more developed or mature I would even suggest boot’s (No7) lift & luminate day & night serum!

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