We care how our skin looks to others, so hearing about ways to improve its appearance is always welcome news. MIT scientists have recently developed a new material called “second skin” that will offer potentially numerous benefits for our skin, including the temporary reduction of wrinkles and smoothing of bags under our eyes.
Second skin, also called XPL, is an invisible film that may, with further refinement, be able to be used in a variety of other applications.
For example, it could be used as a method to protect our skin from damage by impregnating it with sunscreen or as a covering over medications such as cortisone, so it stays in place without smearing.
XPL is an extremely thin coating made up of polymers (repeating molecules that create long chains) that is able to mimic the elastic properties of the skin. The active chemical is called siloxane, which is a chain of alternating atoms of silicon and oxygen contained in a cross-linked polymer layer, thus the name XPL.
The researchers created and tested over 100 potential polymers in order to determine which had characteristics that were most similar to healthy skin.
“Creating a material that behaves like skin is very difficult,” said Barbara Gilchrest, a dermatologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and an author of the paper, as reported by MIT News.
“Many people have tried to do this, 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,” Gilchrest added.
The application of XPL is done in a two-step process. Once on, this second skin is nearly invisible and can remain for up to 24 hours.
The material has special optical properties so it appears smooth. It also has the right mechanical properties to be strong and to tolerate being stretched yet still able to return to its original shape.
The research study, published online in Nature Materials, tested XPL on the lower eyelid fat pads of 12 subjects.