In Australia we spend $8 billion a year on a host of beauty products that promise to make us look younger, less tired, and have more glowing skin.
But imagine if instead of going through your rigorous routine of creams, serums and cleansers each morning, you could make your unwanted lines disappear under a layer of fresh, youthful looking skin.
Scientists at MIT have teamed up with Massachusetts General Hospital, Living Proof, and Olivo Labs, and claim to have created a material that's essentially does just that - and the results are pretty impressive.
Functioning in essence like a second skin, their cross-linked polymer layer (XPL) is like an invisible adhesive patch that mimics the properties and appearance of healthy, young skin.
It claims to temporarily make wrinkles and under-eye bags vanish by forming a protective barrier that tightens the area it covers, with the effect lasting for 24 hours.
In a paper published this week in Nature Materials, the researches say XPL also resists rubbing and washing, is breathable, easy to apply, and can be stretched more than 250% without losing its integrity – more than the 180% that skin can naturally stretch to.
“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, non-irritating, and able to conform to the movement of the skin and return to its original shape.”
The XPL is applied to skin as a cream in two steps; first, the polysiloxane components are spread over the desired area to which a platinum catalyst is added that strengthens it and forms a soft but mechanically strong film.
The two cannot be mixed in advance as the result would be too stiff to be spread onto skin.
Aside from the obvious cosmetic function, the material can also work as a protective barrier for wounds, and if developed further, could be used to deliver medicine through the skin.
Associate professor at MIT’s department of chemical engineering Daniel Anderson explains that “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.”
XPL has so far been tested on a small group of volunteers who applied the material under their eyes and to their forearms and legs.
The areas were then tested for elasticity and against rubbing and washing, with none of the handful of participants reporting an allergic reaction. The material is currently being explored for its cosmetic and medical benefits.