The secret to smooth and wrinkle-free skin, albeit temporary, may soon be available. Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in collaboration with researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital, Living Proof, and Olivo Labs created a topical silicone-based polymer material that tightens and protects the skin from harmful ultraviolet rays.

“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,” adds MIT’s Daniel Anderson.

The material mimics the skin’s properties and may be labelled as a second skin. More improvements will allow the material to deliver drugs for eczema, dermatitis, and other skin conditions.


“Second skin” polymer could also be used to protect dry skin and deliver drugs. Credit: Olivo Labs, LLC

The findings have been published online on May 9 in the journal Nature Materials. The researchers’ clinical test reveals the material reshaped a person’s eye bags and improved the skin’s hydration for 24 hours. Moreover, the material prevented water loss two hours after application. Twenty-four hours later, it allowed the study participant’s skin to retain moisture more effectively than a petrolatum.

The research team points out that the silicone-based polymer can be applied comfortably. The participants in the experiment did not develop any kind of irritation to it.

The researchers introduced the concept of making a material that can restore healthy skin 10 years ago not only for cosmetic purposes but for medical reasons as well. Nevertheless, other experts have already attempted, although unsuccessfully, to mimic the skin before.

“Creating a material that behaves like skin is very difficult,” adds researcher Barbara Gilchrest, a dermatologist from Massachusetts General Hospital. “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, nonirritating, and able to conform to the movement of the skin and return to its original shape.”