No7 Derm Solutions healthy skin range drops this week to rival Cerave. We've tried it already and here's our verdict

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No7 Derm Solutions, the latest blockbuster skincare range from Boots, launches this week. Yes, we’ve barely paused for breath since No7 Menopause Skincare and No7 Future Renew arrived in the last 12 months, and now this new nine-piece collection is here to target unhappy skin.

This means skin that’s become out of whack due to any one of a multitude of modern life stressors: pollution, sun exposure, using the wrong products – either due to confusion or from consulting Dr TikTok – or via internal stresses such as diet, hormone imbalance, lack of sleep and, well, being generally stressed. These create a cycle of inflammation and skin barrier damage, leading to our faces becoming overly oily, dry, red, dull, spotty… you name it.

According to No7’s research, 76 per cent of people report symptoms of unhealthy skin. What’s more, these complaints about unhappy skin are increasingly tipping over into medical skin conditions - 85 per cent of the medical professionals surveyed said that, in the last five years, they’d seen more rosacea, acne, eczema and psoriasis. The idea behind Derm Solutions is that it helps you manage your skin so well that you’re less likely to need professional advice, as I learned at the launch breakfast last week.

No7 Derm Solutions v Cerave – any contest?

Skin health/ skin barrier repair is one of the biggest beauty categories around, and it’s one reason behind the huge popularity of healthy skin brand Cerave, consistently one of the biggest sellers in Boots. Its no-nonsense price points play a big part too.

With its Cerave-esque green and white packaging, it’s clear that No7 Derm Solutions aims to occupy the same space (you may also suspect a nod fellow budget brand The Inkey List’s recent SuperSolutions dermatologist range).

It’s aimed at a younger consumer too than recent No7 launches: the clinical trials on the serum were done on women aged 20 to 40. It’s cheaper than most No7 products: £14.95 for cleansers, £22.95 for moisturisers, £27.95 for the hero ‘suits everyone’ Skin Balancing Serum and £14.95 for most of the target ‘treatments’ to tackle rosacea, psoriasis, eczema, breakouts and so on.

It’s a couple of quid more than Cerave (cleansers £11-14, moisturisers £10-£15). Like Cerave, it also majors on barrier-repairing ceramides, is mostly fragrance-free and with options for dry and oily skin. But there is an added level of sophistication in the ingredients and the addition of ‘treatment’ creams and serums’ to the range. Plus there’s mass consumer panel testing and university-partnered research (no No7 range these days would dare leave the house without it, it would be like forgetting to put on its knickers). This brings an element of trustworthiness to the offering. So let’s dive in.

The hero serum that balances oily and dry skin: Derm Solutions Skin Balancing Serum, £27.95

As we’ve seen with Menopause and Future Renew, the hero is the serum – if you are only going to buy one product, they say, buy this one. It’s good for all skin types and tones and interestingly it works to balance both dry and oily skin. How? Because it treats the underlying inflammation and oxidative stress. Both oiliness and dryness can be signs of unbalanced skin. Its key ingredients are antioxidants, such as green tea vitamins E and C, as well as calming and balancing ingredients.

What about the trials? Over four weeks, 100 women aged 20 to 40 used the serum on one side of their face in addition to their normal products, while on the other side of their face, they used their normal products alone.  The clinically-graded results showed an 82 to 97 per cent improvement in five signs of healthy-looking skin (smoother, less oily, more moisturised, more even tone, noticeably brighter) leading No7 to the claim that it is the only product proven to improve all five signs of healthy looking skin. Whether other products have tried to prove these five things and failed, we don’t know.

It’s the only fragranced product in the range. When I asked No7 Head of Science Research Dr Mike Bell (above) why that was, given that fragrance can be an irritant, he told me that consumers preferred it when asked, but the amount was so small as not to cause upset. Everything else is unscented.

No7 Derm Solutions Core Range – to balance and maintain all skin types, from £14.95

This is what they are calling the everyday range to keep skin healthy. In addition to the serum (above) there’s a different cleanser and moisturiser for dry or oily skin.

For dry and sensitive skin: use the Comforting Cream Cleanser, £14.95, and a 100-Hour Hydration Cream, £22.95, with adaptogens to destress, ceramides and the balancing antioxidant niacinamide. (It’s not that you only need to apply it every 100 hours, rather that tests show the hydrating effects last that long).

For oily skin: use the Calming Gel Cleanser, £14.95, with gentle surfactants to clear oil, and adaptogens, and the Lightweight Hydrating Moisturiser, £22.95, with the same 100-hour hydration claim, niacinamide, adaptogens and ceramides.

No7 Derm Solutions Targeted Solutions Range, from £14.95

These are skin treatments – more than cosmetics but not quite medicine ­– for eczema, psoriasis and rosacea, all steroid-free and suitable for daily use. Then there’s an overnight ‘clearing’ treatment for acne-prone skin with salicylic acid, to be used two-to-three times a week.

What if you don’t know what you need or have a medical skin condition?

You can see a trained beauty advisor in one of the major Boots stores, who will assess your face under a Pro-Derm hand-held scanner and suggest a regime. Or they will refer you to a Boots pharmacist or Boots online GP if you need medical advice. The GP can then refer to a dermatologist if a further step is needed.

No7 Derm Solutions review - my verdict

This range dropped at a perfect time for me. I’ve had a dermatitis rash on my chin for five months, kept at bay but not cleared by a prescription cream, and triggered by any type of active. The Skin Balancing Serum and the 100-Hour Hydration Cream and cleanser have been my go-to for nearly a week. I could use them on the affected area without the rash getting worse while the antibiotics prescribed by my doctor kicked in. I was impressed with how hydrated my skin felt in the morning. When I splashed my face with water, I could feel the protective layer still intact. A big tick from me.

If your skin is playing up and your current skincare just doesn’t cut the mustard, there’s no doubt that No7 offers trusted and researched-backed solutions, and a pathway to in-depth professional help if that’s what you need. And trying it won’t break the bank either.

Shop the No7 Derm Solutions range from Wednesday 27 September