No7 Future Renew skincare has launched at Boots and we were one of the first to try it. What's the story behind the hype?

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Whose skin doesn’t have damage? Simply by living and breathing in the modern world, we all have varying degrees of dullness, dryness and a few extra lines caused by UV, pollution, stress and so on. But Boots No7 is on hand to tackle all of that with its new No7 Future Renew Damage Reversal skincare range, out now.

It’s a four-piece collection - an SPF 40 Day Cream, Night Cream, Serum and Eye Serum - which is reasonably priced between £24.95 and £42.95, and aimed at anyone over 30, which is when damage may start to show.

The No7 boffins (and I say that appreciatively – they have a long history of research and development in collaboration with the University of Manchester) were the most excited I’ve seen them at the pre-launch briefing to editors. They went so far as to call it the biggest innovation in their 88-year history and even a ‘world first’.

That’s saying something if you remember the sell-out stampede that No7 Protect and Perfect caused in 2007 when it was featured in an Horizon documentary showing that the wrinkle-fighting peptide Matrixyl 3000+ really did work. Then there was the fanfare around 2022’s No7 Menopause Skincare range (read our review) developed with 7,000 menopausal women.

What is new about No7 Future Renew Damage Reversal?

The secret sauce is an entirely new ingredient, created and clinically blind-trialled by No7 and the University of Manchester. It’s a novel ‘super peptide’ blend that ‘biohacks’ the skin’s natural repair processes to make them work better. No7 is busy patenting it, so you won’t find it anywhere else. So confident are they in their invention,  that they are presenting their research to three international dermatology conferences this year  – arguably their harshest critics. This suggests that this is not just another bamboozling ingredient for which you cross your fingers and hope. It can, according to clinical trials, actually make a difference.

Skin biohacking - how does that work?

Over a lifetime, we are exposed to many factors that can impact our health (these are known as the 'exposome'). When it comes to skin, it's all the usual suspects: UV, pollution (including smoking), lack of sleep and poor diet. They can lead to wrinkles, dullness, loss of firmness, uneven skin tone and so on. Skin proteins (collagen, fibrillin and elastin being the main ones) are then at the mercy of certain enzymes which start to gobble them up, like Pac-Man. They break them down into peptides, and these peptides then act as an SOS to the body to crank up damage repair.

The super peptide blend operates in the same way as collagen supplements are thought to work, by fooling the skin into thinking that it has been newly impaired. No7’s Head of Science Research Dr Mike Bell says: “The new peptide blend effectively tricks the skin into thinking that it has been damaged to signal renewal of key proteins such as collagen and fibrillin to boost skin’s natural self-repair mechanisms, targeting signs of cumulative damage both on and under the surface."

What does the science say?

Of the two clinical trials on the Future Renew Serum, one blind trial showed 97 per cent of women had improvements in the appearance of three or more visible signs of skin damage, such as fine lines, wrinkles, lack of luminosity, dryness, uneven skin tone and loss of firmness. They also used biopsy testing on real people to prove that the ingredient worked as well on real people’s skin as on cells in the lab.

Is it better than Matrixyl 3000+ ? Dr Ellie Bradley hinted to me that ‘Pepticology’ as they are calling it, might just "pip it", as it offers a broader approach to rejuvenation tackling the major signs of damage – which can happen at any age  – as opposed to Matrixyl’s focus on ageing and possibly an older demographic. As yet there are no side-by-side studies.

Who is  Future Renew Damage Reversal for?

It’s suitable for pretty much everyone who has ever had skin damage and wants to help mitigate it, or to future-proof their skin, without paying premium prices. The clinical and consumer tests were done on 4,200 people aged between 30 to 75, with 51 per cent on skin of colour.

All the products are labelled as suitable for sensitive skin (the Day Cream and Night Cream are mildly scented) and for an active ingredient, it claims to be one of the best tolerated. This is based on the fact that the peptides have been lab-created to mimic those naturally found in the skin. Because the body recognises them as bio-identical, it is claimed, they are less likely to cause sensitivity than other skin renewal signallers such as retinol.

If you are sensitive to retinoids then this could be an alternative power product for you. According to Dr Bradley, the peptide blend showed a fibrillin response (the protein that makes up elastic springs in your skin) almost as good as 0.25 per cent retinoic acid, the prescription retinoid that can have tolerance issues.

Dr Emma Wedgeworth, consultant dermatologist working with No7, adds that many people can't tolerate retinoids around the eyes and neck, where the skin is thinner, and so the No7  Future Renew Eye Serum and No7 Future Renew Serum can offer new retinol-like options for them. “Peptides for those sorts of areas are a brilliant compromise, as tolerance is great, but they've also got really good efficacy," she says.

When it comes to the skin’s self-repair mechanisms, peptides can help keep everything working well, she says. “I think of skin cells a bit like a factory and machinery working to promote skin health. Over time, that machinery can become much less efficient.  The raw materials such as nutrition are going in, your diet’s brilliant, but actually it's the machinery that really needs a kickstart and that's what hopefully peptides, as signalling molecules, can help to do so really give this the cells a kickstart to help them work more efficiently.”

Our verdict:

I was genuinely excited to try the products after seeing the depth of scientific research, and as I have a good chunk of sun damage from my teens.  In my hands, the textures felt a lot more modern than the previous age-defying ranges such as Protect and Perfect, without the powdery silicone feel, that can cause pilling, plus they have really dialled down the scent. The Serum and Eye Cream are totally fragrance-free.

They’ve also harnessed the benefits of niacinamide, and this rebalancing ingredient is in every product, as well as other moisturising and protecting heroes such as hyaluronic acid, vitamin C and antioxidants. There’s also a rice protein to help switch off the Pac-Man activity of the enzymes that cause protein breakdown. The Day Cream has all-important SPF40 - sun is the number one cause of skin damage, says Dr Wedgeworth.

If you’re going to try one product, make it the Serum, which is the end product that was tested in the clinical trials (based on twice-a-day usage). Like any serum, it has the highest concentration of the active ingredient. There’s a 25ml size which is cheaper if you want to go in cautiously and a 50ml which works out much better value if you're a convert. If you need a default day or night cream, the ones in this range are good with an added dose of  'Pepticology' - which is no bad thing. I used the Serum under my eyes, but if you don’t tolerate it, the dedicated Eye Serum is a good bet, especially if you don’t get on with retinol in the sensitive under-eye area.

Here’s the full range of No7 Future Renew Damage Reversal products

No7 Future Renew Damage Reversal Serum, 50ml, £42.95 / 25ml, £34.95

The hero of the range, it combines the new super peptide blend with niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, mulberry and rice proteins. This is a non-oily unscented serum that absorbs easily and quickly. 

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No7 Future Renew Damage Reversal Day Cream 50ml, £34.95

Sun exposure is the number one cause of environmental skin damage, so a moisturiser with SPF helps greatly. For added environmental protection it has an antioxidant blend as well as the super peptide blend, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, vitamin C and rice proteins.​ There’s no whiteness and although it’s quite a thick cream, it melts into the face without heaviness and claims 72-hour moisturisation.

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No7 Future Renew Damage Reversal Night Cream 50ml, £34.95

This is your skin softener with shea butter, the occlusive emollient isoparaffin, niacinamide, hydrating hyaluronic acid and of course the super peptide blend. It leaves skin feeling bouncy and soothed until morning, locking in moisture.

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No7 Future Renew Damage Reversal Eye Serum 15ml,  £24.95

One of the first areas of our face to show signs of wear and tear, the under eyes are prime candidates for damage-mitigating skincare. In studies, the Eye Serum reversed visible signs of skin damage in eight weeks. Like the moisturiser, it has hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, vitamin C, an antioxidant blend and rice proteins.

Buy now

No7 Future Renew Damage Reversal  is available  in Boots