Scientists Develop ‘Second Skin’ That Can Instantly Eliminate Signs of Aging

By Giuliana Manca
Giuliana Manca
Giuliana Manca
May 10, 2016 Updated: May 10, 2016

A “second skin” has been developed that can make you look younger. 

Detailed in a “Nature Materials” paper published on May 9, the new material is “an elastic, wearable cross-linked polymer layer (XPL).” 

When applied to the skin, the material “mimics the mechanical and elastic properties of healthy, youthful skin.” 

XPL has extraordinary elasticity—it can return to its original state after being stretched to 250 percent, while skin can only be stretched 180 percent.

Developed by researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Living Proof, and Olivo Labs, the material has been in development for a decade. 

“Creating a material that behaves like skin is very difficult,” says Barbara Gilchrest, an author of the paper and a dermatologist at MGH.

“Many people have tried to do this” continued Gilchrest, “and the materials that have been available up until this have not had the properties of being flexible, comfortable, nonirritating, and able to conform to the movement of the skin and return to its original shape.”

Made of alternating silicon and oxygen atoms—a chemical structure called siloxane—XPL can dry instantly, is invisible to the naked eye, and can even improve skin hydration.

Applied in a two-step process—which involves lathering two ointments on top of each other to induce a chemical reaction—XPL becomes an essentially invisible “second skin” that lasts for approximately 24 hours

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When XPL was tested on human subjects, it was able to “reshape” under-eye bags, tighten skin, and smooth wrinkles.

None of the study participants reported any irritation from wearing XPL.

With further development, the scientists believe XPL can have a wide variety of applications.  

It could be adapted to deliver drugs, treat a variety of skin conditions, provide long-acting protection against ultraviolet rays, and treat wounds.