When Boots No 7’s Protect & Perfect anti-ageing serum (£24.95/30ml) was launched in 2007 it sold out within hours, Boots branches opened at 7am to cope with the queues, and the £17 product was being resold on eBay for up to £65.
It was thanks to a BBC Horizon programme, in which an independent dermatologist tested its effect on collagen production and found it to be as effective at reducing sun damage as prescription-only products.
Boots No 7 Protect & Perfect Intense Advanced (£24.95/30ml), a new and improved version, was relaunched by Boots in 2014.. It had thousands on its waiting list and in its first day, Boots was selling one every 15 seconds. But should we buy into the hype and be stockpiling supplies? Which one should we be using?
It appears, not much. The serum still contains ginseng, mulberry and vitamin C, all great ingredients for sun damage, plus the peptide blend Matrixyl 3000, which works alongside these other ingredients to help improve collagen production.
The one significant change is the addition of a new peptide known as acetyl-dipeptide, which Boots claims will improve the effectiveness of the serum. This seems a little vague to me, as what this peptide is actually doing is reducing and calming any irritation in the skin.
The other change is packaging, swapping from a glass bottle to a tube, which is probably a better way to get at your product and improves the stability of the ingredients.
If we are to go by the information provided on the Boots No 7 website, the answer is no. Protect & Perfect Advanced Serum is designed for women aged 25 to 35 and the Intense formulation is for 35 to 45.
But don’t worry, Boots has not forgotten you. Its Lift & Luminate Day and Night Serums(£27/30ml or £34.95/50ml) is the duo targeted at us.
But, before you race out and buy it in the hope you’ve found something that could change your life, let’s look at some of the ingredients.
I’m not a big fan of the one-product-fits-all-skin-problems type of skincare, and these serums have been designed for all 45-plus skins. You may also want to consider the small fact that by the time you get to 50-something the damage is done, and was done years ago.
It’s only in the mid-40s and beyond that the skin’s three sign of ageing – wrinkles, dark spots and loss of skin firmness – make themselves known. In which case your skin may need more than just a morning and night serum (sorry for the big dose of reality).
It doesn’t mean there is no hope – there is. Despite the bad reputation the beauty and cosmetic industry gets, there are some amazing ingredients that can and will improve the appearance of your skin.
For me, as a self-confessed beauty geek (not an addict or a beauty junkie, just a geek), I love to know what’s in a product. One of my absolute pet peeves is when skincare consultants cannot explain key ingredients adequately enough for me to decide whether to buy the product.
When I look at a product I have four questions:
1. What’s inside?
2. What are these ingredients going to do for my skin?
3. Is the combination of ingredients contained in the product going to penetrate my skin?
4. Is the concentration of ingredients actually enough to have a beneficial effect?
Luckily for us all, we have the internet and for me, my best friend The Google. If you look around you will find Boots No 7’s scientific advisor Dr Mike Bell illuminating us on the key ingredients in the Lift & Luminate serums.
I am yet to try these serums so this review is based on ingredient information and what I know to work for the skin. Unlike me, you may find the best proof is in the pudding, and at £32.95 for the duo it may be in your budget to just go and give it a try regardless.
But before you do, a little extra information can’t hurt. For me, even if a product only costs a small sum of money, it’s expensive if it does nothing for your skin.
Of course, you could always return the product or ask for a sample first, but I place no credence on sampling at all, unless you are worried about an allergic reaction, as any results a product may deliver need at least 30 days of consistent use as instructed by the creator of the product and samples never last that long.
Three key ingredients, which Dr Bell and his team believe have a meaningful effect on the improvement in the appearance of your skin, have been incorporated into the serums. The first two are Sophora angustifolia and kiwi extract. Both are plant-based and have been documented to reduced the production of melanogenosis, which is responsible for the production of melanin in the cell.
Too much melanin production is the skin’s way of protecting your skin from the sun, which is why for most of us, when we were children, if we did tan it was beautiful, golden and glorious.
Unfortunately all this sun exposure, even if you didn’t actually sunbathe, will eventually lead to a dysfunction of the process of melanogenosis. So instead of a golden tan, your skin starts to show signs of dark spots and blotchy pigmentation.
Next is vitamin C. The ingredient is listed in two forms: Ascorbyl Glucoside, which functions as an antioxidant, and L-Ascorbic Acid, which in its natural form and in the right formulation will help in both the reduction of uneven pigmentation and the increase production of collagen.
While both of these forms of vitamin C are wonderful ingredients for the skin, there is always an issue with stability and, as the serums contain water, the longevity of the vitamin C is questionable. However, with the combination of the Sophora, Kiwi extract and L-Ascorbic acid, you have a pretty good chance of these ingredients having a positive impact on your skin.
Given the potential stability issues, if you do decide to buy these products, don’t let them languish in the bathroom for more than three months or they will be of no use to you at all.
The ingredients above appear in both serums, which is good because given the relatively low price of the serums and where all these ingredients appears on the list, I would suggest that the concentrations are quite low. So regular and consistent use will be essential.
The night serum does have a couple of other ingredients that are quite useful to the skin.
The first one is gluconolactone, which is a Poly Hydroxy Acid, similar to Alpha and Beta Hydroxy Acids, which are all designed to exfoliate the skin. Gluconolactone is a larger molecule, which means it will exfoliate your skin with a lot less irritation.
Boots has also included vitamin A in the form of Retinyl Palmitate, which, on its own, does not present anything to get too excited about. But in combination with the other ingredients in these products it may serve as a useful anti-ageing ingredient.
There are two other ingredients of note: Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7 and Palmitoyl-Oligopeptide. Together they form Matrixyl, an entirely new peptide group that has been said to boost the growth of collagen production and function in a similar way to vitamin C. It could outperform the naturally occurring version of vitamin C known a L-Ascorbic Acid and, if it is more stable in the formulation, it is a winner.
These peptides, combined with vitamin C, will also protect the skin’s barrier function, the decline of which is the main cause (along with sun damage) for the skin losing its integrity and showing visible signs of ageing.
There is one other ingredient all these serums contain: Dimethicone Crosspolymer or silicone (derived from silica), which can be helpful in dealing with dryness in the skin but has no other real anti-ageing benefits. It does, however, allow your cream or serum to glide silkily over the skin, providing you with an instant feeling of a smoother, softer skin and a slightly less wrinkled appearance. Think of it as a ‘second skin’.
Maybe that’s cheating, but it does make the skin look and feel better. So while all the above ingredients are impressive it is the inclusion of silicone in these formulations that is giving the ‘instant’ results some women are raving about.
Overall, for the price, and considering it logically, Lift & Luminate is worth a try. There are some sound ingredients in the serums (which are not intended to hydrate your skin, by the way, so you should continue using your moisturiser as well).
But even with all these nice, well-researched ingredients, remember that the results you achieve will be determined by the current condition of your skin; how much environmental damage your skin has suffered over the years; and whether your pigmentation problems are sun-induced or caused by hormonal problems (in which case you need a larger arsenal of ingredients and treatments than those on offer here).
Having said all that, it’s a good start. Just don’t pin all your hopes and dreams on one serum to solve your skincare problems.