Scientists develop "second skin" that could change skincare industry

A new scientific development could seriously shake up the anti-ageing skincare market.

Scientists in the US claim to have created a “second skin” invisible, breathable, elastic film known as XPL that can be applied to the skin to disguise signs of ageing, such as wrinkles and under eye bags. Billed as able to imitate young, elasticated skin, it was created by scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with help from beauty brand Living Proof and medical company Olivo Labs.

The product is applied in two steps – first, a clear gel is applied that contains a silicone polymer, followed by a “catalyst”, which causes a cross-linking reaction and creates a soft but strong adherent layer over the skin, according to Robert Langer, a professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, speaking in the above video.

XPL is currently being tested and explored for cosmetic uses, but the scientists behind it say it has potential to one day be used to deliver medicines to the skin to treat skin diseases such as eczema.

A prototype was tested on volunteers by MIT along with Harvard Medical School; to see what affects it would have on the skin. The video shows it applied to a volunteer’s under eye area – one side was covered and the other left bare. The treated eye bag appears visibly diminished and the texture much smoother. After both are pinched to test the area’s elasticity, the treated skin bounces back to a smooth, taught appearance.

Dr Tamara Griffiths from the British Association of Dermatologists told BBC News online: “The results [with the polymer film] appear to be comparable to surgery, without the associated risks. Further research is needed, but this is a novel and very promising approach to a common problem. I will follow its development with interest."

Video and image: YouTube/Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)