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Boots No7 Has Been Inspiring Beauty for 80 Years

15 January 2016
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To celebrate the 80th anniversary of the UK’s leading skincare brand, No7, Boots is inviting you to look back at the make-up that made its history and the inspirational women that have shaped today’s society.

It’s hosting an exhibition at the University of Nottingham, developed in collaboration with Dr Richard Hornsey, lecturer in Modern British History, featuring previously unseen materials from the Boots UK Archives charting eight beautiful decades. It shows famed products and packaging and iconic advertising, exploring the social changes affecting women through generations and the role that No7 has played in responding to them.


Some of the first No7 products made on display at the exhibition.

No7 was the first complete range of beauty products launched by Boots in 1935, and since then it’s become one of the UK’s most loved and longstanding beauty brands. It has seen decades of new product innovation, overcoming war time shortages, adapting to key societal moments and explosions of colour and choice, all while retaining its moral integrity in the cosmetics industry and its ‘feel good’ brand values.

Boots UK Archivist, Sophie Clapp, comments: “No7 was first launched during a time of economic depression, when beauty cosmetics were mainly reserved for the wealthy. However, No7 was one of the first brands to really open up beauty for mass audiences and was made available to the ‘ordinary woman’.

“It can effectively be used to chart the decades, from the exciting modernity of the 1930s, to the hardships of World War Two, and from the constraining gender expectations of the 1950s to the expressive freedoms of the 1970s and beyond. Generations have grown up with its skincare range and cosmetics, and we’re really excited about this exhibition, celebrating women and the evolution of beauty. We’re also thrilled to be able to host it in Nottingham, the home of the Boots UK brand, and the city which has served us so well for so long. It has been fascinating, exploring the intimate relationship of cosmetics and beauty with the changing lives and roles of British women over the last 80 years, and we hope that this has been conveyed through the exhibition for others to enjoy and experience, too.”

Manufactured in Nottingham, No7 began as a line of 11 skincare products, sold in just 50 of the largest Boots stores across the UK. Over the last 80 years, through the packaging, advertising and formulations, it has grown to become a hugely popular international brand, available in 13 countries worldwide. At the Boots site in Nottingham, scientists and the No7 brand team continue to drive its innovation – launching more new beauty and skincare solutions for its customers and setting the latest trends in beauty and skincare cosmetics. In 2013, Boots was the first brand to pledge to only use real women through its advertising, and to never Photoshop or retouch any of its promotional images. Its anti-ageing serum No7 Protect and Perfect Intense ADVANCED is also the UK’s first serum clinically proven to deliver anti-wrinkle results that improve over time.

The exhibition has been jointly curated with Dr Richard Hornsey and the University of Nottingham’s Manuscripts and Specials Collections.

Dr Hornsey, comments: "No7 has been an intimate part of women's lives for the last 80 years, reflecting both their dreams and aspirations, and the day-to-day realities of being a woman. The brand provides us with an amazing insight into women's changing experience over this period, how they responded to different social pressures and took advantage of new opportunities."

The private viewing will be attended by Professor Sir David Greenaway, Vice Chancellor of the University, Elizabeth Fagan, Senior Vice President of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. and Managing Director,International Retail, Walgreens Boots Alliance and Emma Houston, the Great Granddaughter of Jesse and Florence Boot and Granddaughter to John Boot, who was the company’s Chairman when No7 launched.


Emma Houston (right) with her husband and Sophie Clapp, Boots Archivist at the exhibition's launch

The exhibition will be open from 15 January 2016 – 17 April 2016, Monday to Friday 11:00am – 16:00pm, Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays noon – 16:00pm at the University of Nottingham, Lakeside Exhibition Centre.




About Boots UK

Boots UK (, the UK’s leading pharmacy-led health and beauty retailer, is part of the Retail Pharmacy International Division of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. (Nasdaq: WBA), the first global pharmacy-led, health and wellbeing enterprise.  With 2,510* stores in the UK, Boots UK is committed to providing exceptional customer and patient care, be the first choice for pharmacy and healthcare and offer innovative 'only at Boots' exclusive products such as the UK’s leading skincare brand No7, all delivered with the great value customers love. Created over 165 years ago, the Boots brand is still at the heart of the communities it serves.

*As at 31 August 2015 excluding equity method investments


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Boots is the UK’s leading health and beauty retailer with over 52,000 team members and around 1,900 stores, ranging from local community pharmacies to large destination health and beauty stores.*

Boots serves its customers and patients for life as the leading provider of healthcare on the high street and the UK’s number one beauty destination. It offers an unrivalled depth and breadth of products, which incorporates its extensive own brand range and innovative portfolio of brands, including No7, the UK’s No1 skincare brand, Soap & Glory, Liz Earle Beauty and Sleek MakeUP.

2024 marks Boots’ 175th anniversary year. Founder John Boot opened a herbalist store in Nottingham in 1849 to offer an affordable alternative to traditional medicines. His son Jesse expanded the business to become a modern retailer and the biggest chemist in Britain. Throughout its history, Boots has listened, learned and innovated, and it continues to challenge itself to improve its products and services every day.

Boots is part of Walgreens Boots Alliance, which is a global leader in pharmacy-led, health and wellbeing retail.  More company information is available on

*Figures accurate as of 31 May 2024