Wrinkles and eye bags could be a thing of the past, thanks to a new elastic film.

Scientists from Harvard Medical School and MIT have created an invisible ‘second skin’ that restores the youthful complexion of the tissue. The formula, which has to be applied to the face or body daily before being activated with a catalyst gel, dries to form a film that mimics healthy young skin. The temporary second skin could potentially be modified for many medical uses such as drug delivery, according to researchers. Study co-author Daniel Anderson explains how the aging process could soon be reversed.

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How did you come up with the idea to create a second skin?

– We first looked into the issue of skin aging and its related changes in mechanical integrity. Then identified the unmet need that many flexible skin interfacing technologies fall short of restoring both the mechanical and aesthetic properties of normal youthful skin, while remaining truly wearable and conforming to the skin's movement. 

How does it work?

– It’s a wearable second skin that can be safely worn on the skin. It restores normal skin aesthetics and mimics the mechanical properties of natural youthful skin – particularly with respect to inherent tension and elastic recoil.

Was it hard to create a skin-like material?

– Yes. The design and adoption of a wearable second skin pose many challenges. First, the material must be safe and mustn’t cause irritation and sensitivity. Second, the material must be incorporated in a topical formulation that is spreadable and form a safe second skin in-situ. Third, the material must adhere to skin while providing a breathable, but protective interface to the environment. It also has to mimic the appearance of healthy normal skin for a wide range of individual skin types.

When could the second skin be used?

– It provides a natural-looking skin aesthetic, in addition to youthful and healthy skin mechanical properties, as well as a barrier function to the lower lids where under-eye fat pads may be prominent.

What other applications does the second skin have?

– It could potentially be modified for many medical uses such as drug delivery. But that requires further investigation.

How much time can the second skin last on someone’s body?

– It provides at least 16 hours durability for the under-eye area. It could last longer than 24 hours in other areas of the body.

What impact could your creation have?

– By allowing the skin to move and look natural, it could potentially enhance patient compliance and quality of life, in addition to other medical benefits.

What’s next?

– We are now exploring the medical application of our technology.

— By Dmitry Belyaev