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Product Review: Boots No. 7 Protect & Perfect Beauty Serum

For weeks, my mother has been raving about this product. "Nicki, you have to try this." "But Mo-om," I say, sounding a little like an adolescent again, "I'm sorry.  I have enough products to review." "I'm telling you, Nic, this is sensational." So, for the love of Mom, I reluctantly tried Boots No. 7 Protect & Perfect Beauty Serum ($23.99, Amazon.com).   Truth be told, it is an excellent primer, with two of the five major ingredients being silicones that leave your skin feeling silky smooth.  However, as far as treatment serums go, I'm not convinced this is the best.  Here's why:

It Takes a Long Time to Work

The press for Boots No. 7 Protect & Perfect Beauty Serum claims that 70% of volunteers saw a difference in signs of photo-aging after four weeks of use.  That's a long time - for instance, 80-90% of users of Neutrogena Retinol SA ($8.94, Amazon.com) saw differences in many of those same signs in just four weeks. And it makes sense - the form of retinol used in Boots No. 7 Protect & Perfect Beauty Serum is retinyl palmitate, which is 20 times weaker than retinol (Clinics in Dermatology, 2002).  So if you're looking for a highly effective drugstore-brand retinol, I'm afraid Boots No. 7 Protect & Perfect Beauty Serum or any other product with retinyl palmitate is not your best choice. And while Boots No. 7 Protect & Perfect Beauty Serum can also reduce wrinkle depth by "up to 50%" in 4 weeks, keep in mind that "up to" probably includes far more low numbers than high ones.  Otherwise, the percentage of users that saw results after 4 weeks would be reported. The other active ingredients in Boots No. 7 Protect & Perfect Beauty Serum are sodium ascorbyl phosphate, palmitoyl oligopeptide and palmitoyl tetrapeptide.

Sodium ascorbyl phosphate

We know a few things about vitamin C:
  • All derivatives of vitamin C must be broken down into L-ascorbic acid within the skin in order to be effective.
  • L-ascorbic acid is available in over-the-counter products in concentrations up to 20%.
  • L-ascorbic acid has a pKa of 4.2 (Journal of Biochemistry, 1992).  It therefore works best in acidic solutions.
So the medium concentration of vitamin C derivative in Boots No. 7 Protect & Perfect Beauty Serum certainly isn't going to get you the maximum benefits possible from vitamin C, including skin brightening, collagen stimulation, and the like.
However, any benefit you get from Boots No. 7 Protect & Perfect Beauty Serum (besides as an excellent primer!) likely stems from the vitamin C as sodium ascorbyl phosphate.  In one of the few studies comparing the efficacy of vitamin C derivatives, sodium ascorbyl phosphate was found to have greater long-term stability than ascorbyl palmitate when each was used in similar concentrations (International Journal of Pharmaceutics, 2001).  It is also more stable in the presence of light and air than L-ascorbic acid, so even if it is not particularly concentrated or in an acidic delivery system, it does work, slowly but surely.

Palmitoyl Oligopeptide and Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide

There are a few good things to note about these peptides here.  First, their effects:  Palmitoyl oligopeptide stimulates collagen production (Dermatologic Therapy, 2007), and palmitoyl tetrapeptide reduces inflammation in the skin (Clinics in Dermatology, 1999). Second, peptides have been shown to have effects at concentrations as low as 10 ppm, or 0.001%.  Considering that they are the last two ingredients listed on the Boots No. 7 Protect & Perfect Beauty Serum box, it's a good thing!

Bottom Line

Boots No. 7 Protect & Perfect Beauty Serum is a solid product due to the retinyl palmitate, sodium ascorbyl phosphate (vitamin C), and palmitoyl oligopeptide and palmitoyl tetrapeptide (peptides). However, if you want faster results, go for a vitamin C serum in the morning under sunscreen, a potent retinoid serum at night, and a peptide-based moisturizer over top. Still, if you are on a strict budget, rest assured Boots No. 7 Protect & Perfect Beauty Serum will work.  You just have to give it significant time - think months, not weeks -and you won't be disappointed. Product Rating:  8/10
  • High or optimized concentration of proven ingredients: 2/3
  • Unique formulation or new technology: 3/3
  • Value for the money:  3/3
  • Sunscreen: 0/1
Cyclopentasiloxane, Aqua/Water/Eau (Water), Butylene Glycol, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Cyclohexasiloxane, Glycerin, Arabinogalactan, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Vitamin C), Magnesium Sulfate, Dimethicone Copolyol, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium PCA, Cetyl PEG/PPG 10/1 Dimethicone, Hexyl Laurate, Polyglyceryl 4 Isostearate, Retinyl Acetate (Vitamin A), Medicago Sativa (Alfalfa) Extract (Alfalfa), Methylparaben, Propylene Glycol, Lupinus Albus Seed Extract, Butylparaben, Ethylparaben, Carbomer, Propylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Polysorbate 20, Ginseng (Panax Ginseng) Root Extract, Morus Alba (Mulberry) Leaf Extract, Tocopherol (Natural Vitamin E), Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide  
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Date: July 18 2012 at 6:14 PM
  1. Mollance
    July 19 2012 at 5:18 PM

    Just wondering if this relates to both the normal serum and the intense version.

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