For those concerned about wrinkly old skin, it might be an ingenious solution: a stretchy “second skin” that can be smoothed on to make aged tissue look more youthful. The wearable film developed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology has shown promise in a series of small trials where it was applied to wrinkles, under-eye bags and patches of dry skin.

When applied to the face or body, the thin, transparent layer adheres to the skin and supports the tissue, making it look and behave like younger skin, its creators claim.

“What we’ve been able to do is create a cream that you can put on the skin and then when it’s on the skin it can actually form, essentially, an elastic second skin,” said Bob Langer, who led the research.

Tests in the lab found that the polymer film, which is only 70 thousandths of a millimetre thick, reduced the appearance of wrinkles and under-eye bags, and helped retain moisture in patches of dry skin.

The layer is designed to be applied in the morning, then peeled off and disposed of at night. In pilot studies, the second skin withstood normal daily wear, and the stresses and strains of exercise and swimming, without falling off or causing irritation. It also weathered exposure to rain.

“It’s something you can wear for a whole day or longer depending on the physical forces that get applied to the area where it is worn,” said Daniel Anderson, who helped develop the product at MIT. “You can’t tell you’re wearing it.”

“You can rub it from the corner and peel it off. But it doesn’t do that under standard manipulation. We don’t want something that falls off,” he added.

While normal cosmetics can mask imperfections on the skin, the new coating changes the way skin behaves by giving it the elasticity of young skin. It was developed with help from two MIT spin-out companies: Living Proof, a cosmetics firm, and Olivo Labs, a medical company. With more work, they believe the films could be used to mask port-wine stain birthmarks, to protect the face from UV rays, or to treat skin disorders such as eczema. Another hope is to create films that contain drugs, which can be released slowly onto skin to treat disease or wounds.

Source: The Guardian

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