It sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie: Scientists at MIT, Massachusetts
General Hospital, Living Proof, and Olivo Labs banded together to develop
a “second skin” that tightens skin and smoothes away wrinkles,
according to a new study.
The researchers created a silicone-based coating that mimics the appearance,
elasticity, and strength of younger-looking, healthy skin. The protective
polymer can make up for the natural loss of elasticity as we age, which
contributes to wrinkles and sagging skin. In fact, the polymer is stronger
than human skin — in lab tests, it snapped back to its original
state after being stretched more than 250 percent, while natural skin
can be stretched about 180 percent, according to a statement put out by MIT.
Here’s how it works: The polymer is applied to skin in the form of
a cream or ointment, followed by a “platinum catalyst” that
triggers the polymer to form a strong yet flexible film. The film lasts
up to 24 hours and remains nearly invisible to the naked eye. To test
the polymer’s safety and effectiveness, researchers applied the
coating under the eyes where people tend to get bags. The polymer acted
as a “steady compressive force” that tightened the skin, reducing
under-eye bags for about 24 hours. In another test, the protective coating
improved hydration on dry legs by preventing water loss.
The researchers note that there are many uses for this breakthrough technology.
“A number of them are in dermatology, such as treating eczema and
dry skin,” Robert S. Langer, PhD, a professor at MIT’s David
H. Koch Institute and one of the study authors, tells Yahoo Beauty. The
coating could directly deliver treatments for certain skin conditions
that would stay put, improving effectiveness, such as cortisone for eczema.
The “second skin” could also be adapted to shield the skin
from harmful ultraviolet rays, like a high-tech sunblock.
“It’s an invisible layer that can provide a barrier, provide
cosmetic improvement, and potentially deliver a drug locally to the area
that’s being treated,” Daniel Anderson, an associate professor
in MIT’s department of chemical engineering, said in a statement.
“Those three things together could really make it ideal for use
What’s more, none of the study participants reported any reactions
to the coating. “We have not seen any from studies on nearly 200
people,” says Langer. However, the polymer isn’t designed
to be worn constantly, so you would eventually have to take off the magic
skin. But you can’t blame us for being excited about the possibilities
— and some dermatologists feel the same way. “I think it is
brilliant,” Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, professor of biomedical engineering
at Columbia University, who was not involved in the research, told the
New York Times. “What they have done is design a clever biomaterial that recapitulates
the properties of young and healthy skin. They can use it as sort of a
Band-Aid over old and aging skin and get very significant results.”
Article originally featured in Yahoo Beauty by Rachel Grummer Bender