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Harvard and MIT develop new "cure" for aging skin

[DIGEST: NYT, New Scientist, MIT]

If beauty is only skin deep, what if we added a second skin? Researchers at MIT and Harvard have developed a skincare product they claim can turn back time — at least for a day or so. In a paper titled “An Elastic Second Skin,” the team of scientists, led by MIT’s Robert Lange, describe a two-part system that combines an invisible cream containing a polymer with a catalyst cream applied over it. Together, they create a plastic coating that mimics the look of younger skin. The effect lasts as long as the coating stays on the face, which is about one day.


“I don’t see why you couldn’t put it on every morning and wear it like makeup,” said Daniel Anderson of MIT. The second skin protects more than one’s vanity: Anderson says it may protect sores and hide skin diseases like eczema and psoriasis.

Daniel Anderson. (Credit: Source.)

Researchers developed the product over a period of nine years, and tested it successfully on 100 people. The subjects reported that they experienced reduced eye bags and wrinkles — as long as the product was on their face. They said the product was breathable and comfortable to wear for 24 hours.

Most anti-aging creams moisturize the skin by hydrating the upper layers of dead skin cells that sit on top of the skin’s epidermis. This temporary infusion of moisture creates a “dewy,” more youthful look. However, underneath those layers, collagen and elastin fibers give the skin elasticity and firmness, and most people begin losing collagen at a rate of 1.5 percent a year after the teenage years.

Although further research is needed, the scientists behind Second Skin believe it may have a long-term strengthening effect on users’ skin. Right now, the only product that has been proven to impact the skin’s elastin and collagen networks are those containing retinoid compounds, which provide only subtle improvements and can be highly irritating to some users. But doctors say that lifestyle factors are the most important anti-aging tool available. Apply sunscreen, avoid smoking, get regular exercise and eat a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables that contain antioxidants, says the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Credit: Source.

The cosmetics company Olivo has teamed up with the labs to bring Second Skin to the marketplace, and it is expected to be available to the public in a couple of years. In the meantime, keep up with the sunscreen; it’s easier to prevent damage than to turn back time.