‘Second Skin’ may reduce wrinkles and eyebags
An invisible film to offer skin added elasticity
An invisible film that can be painted onto skin to give it the elasticity of youth, dissolve wrinkles and bags under the eyes in seconds may sound like a miracle, but scientists at Harvard and M.I.T. have discovered that it could be a reality.
In a pilot study of 170 subjects, published in Nature Materials, researchers created a “second skin” composed of commonly used chemicals deemed safe by the FDA, which was used to successfully treat wrinkles and eye bags.
Using a large collection of siloxanes—which form long chains of polymers—the researchers modified molecular features such as the chain length, to create those with the properties they desired.
They then devised a two-step process – initially applying a clear polymer, followed by a stronger product that links them together. By modifying the chemistry of the chains it’s possible to alter the properties of the second skin, depending on it’s planned use—a more permeable second skin might be used for under-eye bags, while a less permeable one might hold a medication in place. The skin can be removed with a solution that dissolves the polymer and so far no irritation or allergic reactions have been reported.
The “skin” can last for more than a day. One of the first applications, said Dr Barbara A. Gilchrest, a dermatology professor who is part of the research team, was on undereye bags.
“We wanted something that is elegant, and the ultimate test is right there on your face,” she said. “You really can’t see it. It’s there. It looks normal. We saw that as a very high bar. If you can achieve that you’ve done something impressive.” Gilchrest told the New York Times
To test the solution on the under-eye area, people were randomly assigned to use second skin or a placebo under their eyes. Trained observers graded the subjects on the appearance of the undereye skin. The product’s durability was tested in volunteers who wore it while running in heat and working up a sweat, while swimming, and while going out in a rainstorm.
According to the researchers one of the important uses is in treating eczema and irritable ageing induced dry skin patches on the back and legs that disturb sleep. The second skin can keep drugs like cortisone creams on the skin—where less than 10 percent of what is applied stays.
The researchers emphasise that these tests of the product as a cosmetic treatment, where most subjects responded, are separate from medical product testing, where response rate is not yet known.