Boots and No7 secure ‘multi-million’ pound funding for inclusive skin research

By Julia Wray | Published: 4-Dec-2023

The Project Spectrum partnership seeks to redress imbalance in the existing body of skin research, which skews towards lighter skin tones

Boots, No7 Beauty Company and The University of Manchester (UoM) have secured UK government funding to support inclusive dermatology research. 

The ‘multi-million’ pound Prosperity Partnerships funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC, a part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)) will support the bodies’ Project Spectrum. 

This research partnership seeks to redress the imbalance in the existing body of skin research, which historically focused on lighter skin tones. 

The project will explore how skin structure, function and response to sunlight is influenced by melanin, the pigment determining skin colour, with the goal of delivering effective skin care solutions for all people. 

Project Spectrum builds on a 15-year research collaboration between No7 Beauty Company, Boots and UoM, which has produced more than 100 scientific publications.

“We are very grateful to UKRI and the BBSRC for supporting this exciting research programme,” said Dr Mike Bell, Head of Science Research at Boots and No7 Beauty Company.

“With our world leading scientific partners at The University of Manchester we will develop a much better understanding of the similarities and differences in skin across the pigmentary spectrum allowing for more inclusive product design, and ultimately more effective solutions for everyone.”

“The UoM’s Centre for Dermatology Research boasts an outstanding track record in fundamental skin research,” added Dr Abigail Langton, Lecturer in Ethnic Skin and Principal Investigator on Project Spectrum.

“Our longstanding partnership with Boots and No7 Beauty Company has allowed us to not only delve into the intricacies of skin science but also deliver tangible benefits to consumers through clinical translational research.” 

Boots and No7 Beauty Company are not the only beauty players who have pledged to help bridge the skin research gap. 

Inclusive skin care brand 4.5.6 Skin has established the world's first dedicated Skin Tone Research Lab to recognise and tackle the challenges in serving the needs of communities with melanin-rich skin. 

In March, meanwhile, L’Oréal’s US business dedicated a US$100,000 research grant to the Skin of Color Society (SOCS), which promotes research on the diagnosis and treatment of skin diseases in individuals with skin of colour.

And last year, members of the British Association of Dermatologists’ Lexicon Group launched a new ‘scale’ for describing the range of human skin colours.

It is hoped the five-point Eumelanin Human Skin Colour Scale will combat underrepresentation in research and replace subjective approaches for describing skin colour.

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