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Brief Published: 19 May 2016

Second Skin: Anti-Ageing Innovation

Currently being developed for cosmetic use, a new polymer called XPL creates a strong, but flexible second skin that could offer truly innovative anti-ageing beauty solutions.

The second skin mimics the properties and appearance of healthy, youthful skin, and could smooth skin wrinkles when worn on the face. The innovation is a joint collaboration between scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Living Proof (the Jennifer Aniston-backed haircare and styling brand) and Cambridge-based Olivo Labs.

Details published in Nature Materials reveal the skin is created by applying a liquid polymer onto the skin, followed by a catalyst product. This triggers the polymer to form a strong, flexible film that can remain on the skin, undetected by the naked eye, for 24 hours. The skin is formulated with chemicals deemed safe by the Food and Drug Administration in the US and can be developed with specific elasticity, contractility, adhesion, tensile strength and occlusivity for different purposes.

The innovation shows great promise – especially in the anti-ageing beauty market, where brands are continuously seeking science-backed solutions to wrinkles and dehydration in the skin. Beyond this category, it could also be used to treat eczema and extremely dry skin by creating a barrier to prevent moisture loss, while acting as a mask to keep applied products from rubbing off. The skin could also be adapted for high-tech sun protection.