At the time, it probably seemed like media hype. When a documentary declared that an anti-aging cream from the pharmacy chain Boots actually worked, stocks vanished faster than frown lines, with a whole year’s supply of the lotion disappearing from the shelves within a fortnight. But the frenzy surrounding the No. 7 Protect and Perfect range may not have been so half-baked after all.
The results of what may be the first reliable clinical trial of any anti-wrinkle cream available in ordinary stores suggest that it really does help reduce wrinkles.
Scientists at Manchester University in northern England concluded that around one-fifth of people who used the cream for six months saw some improvement in their skin.
The trial, which compared Boots No. 7 Protect and Perfect intense beauty serum with a moisturizer, was welcomed by scientists who said it “raised the bar” on the kinds of tests cosmetic companies should do before making claims.
“Very few over-the-counter cosmetic ‘anti-aging’ products have been subjected to a rigorous scientific trial to prove their effectiveness,” said Chris Griffiths, a dermatologist and leader of the study.
Prescription drugs known as retinoids have been proven to repair skin aged by sun exposure, but there is scant evidence that the many cosmetic anti-aging products have a similar effect, Griffiths said.
In the study, 49 women and 11 men aged between 45 and 80 used either the anti-wrinkle product or a placebo.
After six months, 43 percent of those using the anti-wrinkle cream saw an improvement in their skin, against 22 percent on the placebo.
Tests showed that volunteers who used the anti-aging cream were producing a protein called fibrillin-1, which makes skin more elastic. The research appears in the British Journal of Dermatology.
Richard Weller, a dermatologist at Edinburgh University, said the study was the first proper trial of an over-the-counter cosmetic product.
He said the report was unclear about how much the cream reduced people’s wrinkles and it was unlikely to be as effective as retinoids, which can only be prescribed by a general practitioner.
But the trial suggests other anti-aging products might also be effective.
“The ingredients in Protect and Perfect are available to other cosmetic companies and many are used in other brands. It would not surprise me if other cosmetics showed similar effects, but it is up to rival cosmetic companies to show this. I think this will raise the bar for what we should expect from cosmetic companies in showing that their products work,” Weller said.