Scientists have found a way to tighten skin, smoothening wrinkles in the process, with a new material that has been dubbed as the “second skin.” The wonder material has multiple other benefits, including treatment of a variety of skin conditions and delivery of medicines.
Researchers at MIT, Massachusetts General Hospital, Living Proof, and Olivo Labs have jointly developed an elastic, invisible material that, when applied to the skin, acts as a temporary shield and also tightens our largest organ. Essentially, the material, when applied to facial regions that experience wrinkling, can significantly smoothen them. While the second skin’s cosmetic applications alone could make it a must have for many, scientists are excited about the other aspects of the material, which includes delivery of drugs to help treat skin conditions such as eczema and other types of dermatitis.
After a decade spent developing the second skin material, the MIT engineers managed to offer a product that tightens the skin and helps to protect it. The material has already been processed into a cream that can be easily applied to the skin, confirmed Robert Langer, a chemical engineer and professor at MIT.
“What we’ve been able to do is create a cream basically that you can put on the skin. And then once it’s on the skin, it can actually form essentially an elastic second skin.”
The material creates an extra layer of invisible artificial skin to smooth out the wearer’s natural skin, reported Gizmodo. The material is a silicone-based polymer that could be applied to the skin as a thin, imperceptible coating that mimics the mechanical and elastic properties of healthy, youthful skin, reported MIT.
The product has been codenamed XPL (short for cross-linked polymer). It has to be applied in a two-step process. The first layer is made up of polysiloxane components, which is the inactive polymer. The second layer is a platinum catalyst, which brings about a reaction in the first layer and transforms it into a strong film. The research has been published in Nature Materials.
After application, the product becomes a sturdy, yet flexible second skin that adheres to the body. Interestingly, the material can easily withstand the daily wear and tear and can last comfortably for a period of 24 hours. If needed, users can easily reapply to get the claimed miraculous results. The product is said to closely mimic the elasticity of a very young skin. Tests with subjects have shown that it reduces the presence of under the eye bags and can also help to moisturize dry skin for around 24 hours, according to the release, reported Boston.
Younger skin has more elasticity since it contains copious amounts of collagen. The protein imparts remarkable tensile strength and elasticity to the skin. Moreover, the natural material also allows the skin to withstand minor abrasions. However, humans steadily lose the ability to produce collagen as we age, resulting in the skin becoming loose. This predisposes our skin to develop wrinkles and bags. The cream doesn’t do anything to reverse the natural ageing of the skin, but it acts a second layer that tightens it, giving the perfect illusion of youthful skin.
Interestingly, researchers have envisaged multiple purposes beyond the cosmetic improvement. As the material is relatively immune to soap and water for a period of 24 hours, it could be used to release drugs through the skin. Moreover, it could also provide protection from ultraviolet light.
There’s no official confirmation regarding the availability of the cream that acts like a second, more youthful skin, but a company has already been created to further test and refine the product.
[Photo by Alexandre Weinberger/Getty Images]