Ta Dah!

From its very beginnings, No7 has been a brand that looks after the longevity of beauty. ‘Loveliness that outlasts the years’ was one of its original slogans.

Now, thanks to pioneering research into anti-ageing carried out in collaboration with Professor Chris Griffiths and his Skin Research Team at The University of Manchester, No7's skincare range has become synonymous with truly effective and clinically proven anti-ageing.

The journey that produced three clinically proven serums



The quest for excellence in anti-ageing skincare began for the No7 brand with the creation of a product that was ahead of its time: No7 Protect & Perfect Serum. At the time, serums containing high concentrations of anti-ageing ingredients were not well-known or understood outside specialist skincare circles, and at first the product struggled to find its niche. But the skincare experts at No7 had such confidence in the product and in its ability to deliver outstanding anti-ageing results that they took the bold, and at the time unheard of step of putting the product forward for testing in a way that no beauty product had previously been tested.

The experts at No7 approached Professor Griffiths, Foundation Professor of Dermatology at The University of Manchester and asked him to test the anti-ageing potential of No7 Protect & Perfect Serum with a clinical trial. Professor Griffiths was initially sceptical that any cosmetic beauty preparation could show genuine anti-ageing results, which made the results of the clinical trial he conducted even more remarkable.

Professor Griffiths’ clinical tests showed that No7 Protect & Perfect Serum helped boost levels of fibrillin, one of the key proteins of the skins elastic matrix, in a way that was thought could only be achieved by treatment with tretinoin (also known as trans-retinoic acid), a prescription-only treatment. It was the first time that the performance of a cosmetic product had been shown in this way.

Testing was carried out not in test tubes or petri dishes but on the photoaged forearms of women where Fibrillin is typically present in lower levels due to many years of sun exposure. By taking skin biopsies, levels of fibrillin could be assessed. These novel results were consistent with the anti-ageing appearance benefits seen from the serum in extensive consumer trials.

In March 2007 this research was reported on the BBC Horizon programme, ‘Professor Regan’s Beauty Handbook,’ and the response from viewers was instant and unprecedented. boots.com sold out of stock overnight; there was a significant sales increase on the day the programme aired. Boots stores across the UK were obliged to create waiting lists to manage the demand, while tubes of the serum began to appear on eBay, selling at three times the listed price of £17.


“In the Dermatology Department of The University of Manchester they’ve been researching [the gold-standard, prescription-only anti-ageing ingredient] tretinoin for years. They were convinced that no over the counter anti-ageing creams could match the effectiveness of tretinoin until they were asked to investigate an off the shelf product from Boots.”

BBC Horizon:
Professor Regan’s Beauty Notebook, 2007


In March 2008, Professor Griffiths’ research was published in the British Journal of Dermatology. (Watson et al. 2008. BJD 158 (3), 472-477)



The impact of No7 Protect & Perfect Serum was outstanding and unprecedented, but the scientists at No7 wanted to raise the bar further still. The next challenge was to provide further compelling proof of the exceptional performance of No7 products by putting them through even more demanding clinical trials.

Again, they turned to Professor Griffiths and his Skin Research team at The University of Manchester and asked him to conduct a year-long clinical trial on No7 Protect & Perfect Intense Serum.

Once more, the results were a ‘first’; the product was found to have genuine, long-term anti-ageing benefits with continued product use.

The trial was double-blind over the first six months, randomised and controlled. No other cosmetic anti-ageing product had previously been tested in this way, or for such a length of time – that they were aware of.

The serum, which targets deeper lines and wrinkles and which contains additional anti-ageing active ingredients to its sister-product (the original No7 Protect & Perfect Serum), was also found to have a structural effect on the skin demonstrated by changes in levels of fibrillin. Of the volunteers using the test product, 70% showed a marked improvement in the appearance of wrinkles after a whole year of use.

Again, this research was published in the British Journal of Dermatology, in August 2009. (Watson et al. 2009. BJD 161 (2), 419-426)



By now, the experts at No7 had developed their third clinically proven serum, No7 Lift & Luminate Day & Night Serum, proven to tackle the three key signs of ageing for 45+ women – lines and wrinkles, loss of firmness, uneven skin tone or uneven pigmentation including age spots. This product combined the existing, well-proven ingredients from the No7 Protect & Perfect formula (which tackle lines and wrinkles) with new actives which tackle hyperpigmentation in revolutionary new separate day and night formulations.

A pioneering clinical trial was undertaken by one of the world’s leading experts in pigmentation, Professor Ortonne, Head of Dermatology at Hôpital L'Archet in Nice. The serums were tested against 4% Hydroquinone, commonly regarded by dermatologists as the gold standard topical treatment for hyper-pigmentation, and the trial provided clinical proof that No7 Lift & Luminate Day & Night Serum had the ability to lighten and shrink age spots.


"The results are exceptional - better than any other cosmetic product I have tested for the fading of age spots, with similar performance to the gold-standard prescription only treatment after four months use."

Professor Ortonne,
Head of Dermatology at Hôpital L'Archet in Nice


Publication on proof of actives:
Singh et al. (2013). Experimental Dermatology 22 (1), 67-69

Abstract on clinical results:
Khemis et al. (2012). BJD 166 (4), e39-e40


Again, the product contains the high level of clinically proven ingredients found in No7 Protect & Perfect Intense Serum, along with the pigment-treatment ingredients from No7 Lift & Luminate Day & Night Serum, with the addition of the new active ingredients to address the loss of radiance and increased dryness and fragility found in older skin – the product is designed for the 60 years and over age group.

Key among these new active ingredients are a blend of ‘skin-identical lipids’; essential components of the skin’s barrier which help the skin to hold water, and a plant extract derived from the Persimmon tree, which boosts moisture levels and also the skin’s vitality and radiance, so that it looks and behaves like younger skin.

In clinical trials, after four weeks of use, both light-reflecting characteristics and the levels of natural moisture return to the sort of levels that would be found in younger skin. In consumer trials, where women used the product as part of their daily beauty regime at home, 89% of women rated the products as ‘good to excellent’.


“Extensive research has enabled us to develop this clinically proven serum, which works at a deeper level to restore youthful skin for women aged 60 and over. In addition to wrinkles, loss of firmness and uneven skin tone, post-menopausal skin can become persistently drier and less resilient and lack luminosity due to the decline in oestrogen levels. Our unique complexes and proven technologies combined with a highly effective No7 serum delivery system help tackle each of these issues head-on, leaving skin feeling and looking younger in just four weeks.”

Dr Mike Bell
Boots Skincare Scientific Advisor



Now, another five-year collaboration period has begun, with a broader programme of investigation that will run until 2018 and a focus on unravelling the mechanisms of skin aging across different skin ethnicities. This is key to understanding the diversity of skin across the world, and to studying potential repair solutions that work for all consumers. Building on the previous success, together Boots and The University of Manchester, will probe deeper into how the new serums are working, studying a broader array of skin markers across both the epidermis and dermis. Can we identify the conductors in orchestrated skin repair processes? Why do some people look younger for their age than others? How does geographical ancestry precisely affect the aging process within the skin? These are some of the questions that Professor Griffiths and his team will be looking at.

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