Forget Botox, 'Second Skin' is Next Frontier in Anti-Aging

Botox anti-aging skin treatment
A "revolutionary" new material can restore a skin's youthful appearance without the need for Botox. Creative Commons

As we get older it is our skin—the body's largest and most visible organ—that most gives away our age, leading millions to resort to countless potions and treatments in their quest to be a modern-day Dorian Gray.

Current methods to fight the effects of aging focus either on changing the skin's appearance or restoring its mechanical functions, but not both. Scientists now believe they have come up with a new material that solves the two problems at the same time.

A "revolutionary" skin-conforming polymer called XPL, developed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard, has the ability to replicate the mechanical properties of youthful skin while reducing the appearance of wrinkles and under-eye bagging.

anti-aging second skin botox
The visual impact after applying XPL to the under-eye area. Olivo Labs

The new material is described in a paper published this week in Nature Materials, following more than five years of research aimed at replicating healthy skin.

"Developing a second skin that is invisible, comfortable and effective in holding in water and potentially other materials presents many different challenges, which we are now able to address," said Robert Langer, Olivo co-founder and lead author of the study.

A series of small proof-of-concept human studies showed that treatment with the material not only reduced wrinkles and mechanical functions but also improved the skin function of patients with severely dry skin.

The "second skin" technology is applied by rubbing on an invisible cream that contains the polymer. A second cream containing a catalyst then causes the skin to temporarily tighten, while resisting washing and rubbing. Such properties mean it could find future applications in both cosmetics and therapeutics to treat a variety of skin diseases.

"This 'skin conforming' platform brings with it transport properties that have significant promise to treat underlying conditions," said Rox Anderson, co-founder of Olivo.

"For eczema or sun protection as examples, this second skin platform can then serve as a reservoir for control-release transdermal drug delivery or SPF ingredients, a possibility we are currently pursuing in our lab."