It sounds like a futuristic, science-fiction beauty treatment: Just brush a clear liquid onto clean skin and watch wrinkles disappear. Turns out, it’s reality – at least in a lab. In May of 2016, researchers announced that a fluid containing safe chemicals called siloxanes can be painted on the face (and other parts of the body). It dries to become an invisible second skin, tightening skin to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
In studies of 170 people, scientists from Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – higher-powered research institutions not normally associated with wrinkle cures – reported in the journal Nature earlier this year that this “second skin polymer” called XPL worked. In one of the studies, XPL was brushed on baggy under-eye skin. As it dried, it minimized the appearance of the saggy area – tightening skin for 24 hours.
The invisible layer looks and acts like the real thing, one researcher noted in a press release from MIT. “Creating a material that behaves like skin is very difficult,” says Barbara Gilchrest, a dermatologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and an author of the paper. “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.”
XPL, which is still experimental, is applied to skin in a two-step process. First, a liquid containing polymers is painted on. Second, another cream or ointment containing a platinum catalyst is applied over top of the first layer. The combination sets the second skin. Though invisible, it’s tough stuff – study participants wore it while exercising, swimming and out in the rain, with no ill effects.
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