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Weekend Shopping: Rediscovering High Street Beauty With Boots' No.7

15/06/2012 17:05 | Updated 15 August 2012

Remember when you were little and your mum used to wear No7 make up and you thought it was SO grown up? I vividly recall being desperate to get my hands on my mum's trio of grey eye shadows from an early age when my experience of make up was strictly limited to experimenting with my Girl's World.

On that glorious day when I was finally deemed old enough to wear make up, I went straight down to the big Boots in Ilford and made for the 17 display. I felt No7 was for the more accomplished make up wearer, not some novice like me.

With its elegant packaging and - at that point - more muted hues, it was way too sophisticated for my youthful tastes. But, as with so many classics (and olives), eventually I grew into it and now, from the wonderful Poppy King collaborations to their incredibly advanced skincare products, I'm discovering just how good No7 really is.

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The No 7 Heritage - left, 1960s advert for Number Seven Lipstick in Gay Geranium; centre, 1970s image featuring the No7 Wild Pearl Lipstick; top right, 1930s image of the original Number Seven Lipstick; bottom right, today's No7 Stay Perfect Lipstick, which is still available in the classic Gay Geranium shade which was first introduced over 50 years ago.

A true British beauty industry success story, 'Number Seven' was launched by Boots in 1935 with a range of just 11 products, most of which were skincare, followed in 1937 by colour cosmetics, making this year the make up range's 75th anniversary. The name was chosen to draw on the fact that the number seven was often used to signify perfection, and Boots wanted No7 to stand out from the various other own-brand lotions and potions they produced.

The brand, which has only had eight redesigns in its history, has gone from strength to strength over the years. In 2007 the BBC put No7's skincare firmly on the 'must have' map when it's Horizon show investigated skincare. Their research showed that No7 Protect and Perfect anti-ageing beauty serum did indeed work, leaving skin visibly smoother. It created the biggest furore on the High Street with crazy queues, stockpiling, sell-outs and even talk of waiting lists. I remember looking for it in every Boots I went in out of sheer curiosity but it took months to find because as soon as it hit the shelves, it was gone again. Savvy No7 knew a good thing when they saw it and quickly expanded Protect & Perfect to include creams, foundation, body products and men's skincare.

From its humble beginnings as a skincare range, No7 has made great strides; adding men's skincare, beauty accessories, bathing and sun protection product strings to its already impressive bow. My favourite of their recent products have been from the collaborations with Poppy King, an innovative high end lipstick designer who also produced lipsticks for Lady Gaga's 2011 charity project, Gaga's Workshop, at top New York department store, Barney's.

These uplifting, fun Poppy King products with their on trend colours in modern finishes and super cute polka dot packaging are what drew me in to No7, then the hot pink Vital Brights lipstick with it's modern white casing suckered me and, whilst I'm still getting to grips with the new Lift & Luminate day and night face serums (both come in the same box but in separate tubes which I thought was pretty cool), I've definitely been won over. It might even be time for my own eye shadow trio.

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