Scientists testing a cosmetic anti-ageing product sold on the high street have shown it can clinically reduce wrinkles and improve the appearance of skin damaged by everyday exposure to sunlight.
Dermatologists at The University of Manchester carried out a clinical trial on 60 volunteers with typical signs of sun-damaged skin and found that the cosmetic, No7 Protect & Perfect Intense Beauty Serum, could improve some of these clinical features.
The study, published online in the British Journal of Dermatology today (Tuesday, April 28), showed that 70% of individuals using the beauty product had significantly fewer wrinkles after 12 months of daily use compared to volunteers using a placebo.
The research team, headed by Professor of Dermatology Chris Griffiths, reported last year that the original No7 Protect & Perfect Beauty Serum stimulated the production of fibrillin-1, a protein that promotes elasticity in the skin.
For this latest, year-long study, the researchers first wanted to discover whether the new No7 Protect & Perfect Intense Beauty Serum also promoted fibrillin-1 production but also wished to test whether this would result in a reduction in wrinkles, as has been demonstrated with prescription retinoids.
"Very few over-the-counter cosmetic 'anti-ageing' products have been subjected to a rigorous, scientific trial to prove their effectiveness," said Professor Griffiths, who is based in the University's School of Translational Medicine at Salford Royal Foundation Hospital.
"Although prescription retinoids can have a reparative effect on photo-aged skin, there is scant evidence that any of the plethora of cosmetic 'anti-ageing' products can produce similar effects."
The clinical trial - funded by Boots, the makers of the No7 product range - was carried out using standard scientific protocols. Having established that the No7 Protect & Perfect Intense Beauty Serum did increase fibrillin-1 production, 60 volunteers - 11 men and 49 women aged 45 to 80 years - were recruited to test its efficacy.
The No7 Protect & Perfect Intense Beauty Serum and a control formulation containing no anti-ageing ingredients were supplied in identical, coded packages, so neither investigators nor volunteers were aware as to the treatment of each individual. Thirty volunteers were assigned the No7 Protect & Perfect Intense Beauty Serum and 30 used the placebo formulation.
"Our findings demonstrate that a commercially-available cosmetic can produce significant improvement in the appearance of facial wrinkles following long-term use," said Professor Griffiths.
"It is rare for such benefits to be reported for an over-the-counter anti-ageing product and this study paves the way for larger studies with more statistical power."