Page last updated at 13:18 GMT, Tuesday, 28 April 2009 14:18 UK

'Proof' face creams beat wrinkles

Sun damage causes wrinkles

Scientists say they have clinical proof that a face cream available on the high street does reduce wrinkles.

Five months' worth of stock of the leading brand sold in a day after Professor Chris Griffiths announced in 2007 it appeared to combat sun damage.

Two years on from the BBC Horizon programme showcasing his work, his team has shown the cream visibly smoothes out the skin.

Boots predicts boom sales of its No 7 Protect & Perfect Intense Beauty Serum.

This moisturiser is a richer version of its Protect & Perfect Beauty Serum that the team tested before and found it stimulated the production of fibrillin-1, a protein that promotes elasticity in the skin which is lost with sun damage.

Professor Chris Griffiths: Cream 'makes a significant difference'

Although his University of Manchester team only tested one brand of anti-ageing cream, Professor Griffiths said similar products available on the market would probably also work.

In the latest trial, 60 men and women aged 45 to 80 years with typical signs of sun-damaged skin were asked to test one of two products allocated at random so neither the investigators nor volunteers were aware which treatment was given.

Half received the Boots cream and half received a moisturiser with none of the "anti-ageing" ingredients - peptides, retinyl palmitate and white lupin extract.

The volunteers applied the cream each night to the face, wrists and forearms.

As expected, the Boots cream increased fibrillin production. But it also appeared to smooth out wrinkles.

Crow's feet

After six months of daily use, 43% of people using the product were found to have some extra clinical improvement in their wrinkles compared to 22% of people using a basic moisturiser.

This equates to one in five people using the cream having some extra benefit over plain moisturisers.

At this point in the trial all of the volunteers were told which cream they had been using and were offered the opportunity to continue to take the anti-ageing cream - and all of the treatment group took it.

Approximately one in five people using the cream will get something extra for their money over plain moisturisers
Nina Goad of the British Association of Dermatologists

Professor Griffiths said he was surprised by his findings, published in the British Journal of Dermatology, and stressed that they were independent, although the work received funding from Boots.

"We did this in a purely independent way. Either way this paper would have been published otherwise we would have not entered into the study. I suppose Boots were confident or foolhardy, whichever way you want to look at it.

"Wrinkles are largely down to our exposure to sunlight. The best thing you can do to prevent wrinkles is practice sensible sun avoidance and use sun screen."

And he said prescription creams containing retinoic acid were still better at beating sun damage wrinkles than over-the-counter creams.

Nina Goad of the British Association of Dermatologists said: "Approximately one in five people using the cream will get something extra for their money over plain moisturisers.

"It is an interesting step forward in research although the long term benefits are unknown.

"The main preventable causes of skin ageing are sun exposure and smoking, so if you're worried about wrinkles, limiting these factors is sensible."

Dr Nick Lowe, clinical professor of dermatology at UCLA School of Medicine, said: "The previous rapid study reported from this group measured fibrillin a substance that predicts the formulation of collagen. More collagen should result in skin rejuvenation.

"This latest longer study over six months appears to confirm skin rejuvenation as measured by dermatology examination."

Dr Richard Weller, senior lecturer in dermatology at the University of Edinburgh, said: "This is, as far as I am aware, the first properly conducted placebo controlled, double blind trial of an over the counter cosmetic product. Boots are to be congratulated for doing this.

"This will raise the bar for what we should expect from the cosmetic companies in showing that their products work."

No7 Protect & Perfect Intense Beauty Serum will be the new name for No7 Refine & Rewind Beauty Serum that is currently available the Netherlands, Norway, Thailand, the UK, the United Arab Emirates and the US.

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