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 As it has proved one of my most popular posts here it is again even though it is a bit out of date now.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.