Imagine a temporary “second skin” able to hide wrinkles in a matter of minutes. Scientists at MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital have created a special material that acts as an elastic, artificial skin to hide eye bags and other signs of aging. Further development could enable it to deliver drugs to treat eczema and other skin conditions.
This is not a skin cream or one of the many anti-wrinkle products available on the market. As reported in May in the journal Nature Materials, it is an artificial layer containing a silicone-based polymer which mimics the mechanical and elastic properties of healthy, youthful skin.
The product is applied in two steps. First, users apply a clear gel containing the polymer. When the second gel is added – the catalyst – the polymer forms a cross-linked film that remains on the skin for up to 24 hours.
As it dries into an artificial skin, it pulls on and changes the shape of the natural skin, hiding wrinkles and other signs of aging. The resulting layer is soft, transparent and has good mechanical strength.
According to MIT researchers, tests with human subjects showed that the material reshaped bags under the lower eyelids and enhanced skin hydration. This second skin also could be adapted to provide long-lasting ultraviolet protection.
Concealing Disfiguring Birthmarks
“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. Those three things together could really make it ideal for use in humans,” explained Daniel Anderson, Associate Professor in MIT’s Department of Chemical Engineering and a member of the university’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES).
The product is still undergoing human trials. The manufacturer is working on the medical applications, including the possibility of providing durable ultraviolet protection, as well as concealing birthmarks and treating different types of dermatitis.