Scientists at Harvard and MIT developed a two-step cream to help reduce bags under the eyes and wrinkly skin. The study was published in the journal Nature Materials, on May 9, 2016.

The research was led by Robert Langer, the head of a biological engineering lab at MIT. The team licensed the product to two companies. One was Living Proof and the second one was Olivo Labs, which will give the cream a medical use.

Scientists from Harvard and MIT developed an elastic Second Skin, which is a tow-phase cream made out of polysiloxane, a silicone-based gel. Credit: CBS News

Second skin

The researchers say that the cream is composed of materials that were already on the market, and that were deemed safe by the Food and Drug Administration. No one has experienced irritation or allergic reactions.

The purpose of the product, which is being called Second Skin, was to do something stretchy, but strong enough for it not to fold when it dried on the skin. The team also wanted something that would be breathable.

“It has to have the right optical properties, otherwise, it won’t look good, and it has to have the right mechanical properties, otherwise it won’t have the right strength and it won’t perform correctly,” Langer said.

The cream is made out of polysiloxane, a silicone-based gel. The researchers call it a cross-linked polymer layer, or just XPL.

Langer said that it works in two parts. First, people need to apply the first layer and rub it in. Right after that, a second layer is needed; it has to be applied and rubbed in. The first layer’s chains are not very strong, which is why the second layer is needed. There’s cross-linking effect and the cream tightens up.

The catalyst for this chemical reaction is platinum-based and it turns the gel into a thin, stretchy sheet. The second layer reflects the light off the skin, since it has light-scattering particles added to it.

The research team ran four experiments on the product. In one of them, they applied the cream to the skin under the eyes of 25 volunteers. It lasted for 16 hours before it started peeling off.

In another experiment, Langer tried it on his arm. He said he could not see it after a minute. He did not feel like it was there.

They also compared the product with petroleum jelly and regular moisturizer on 22 people. They had dry and flaky legs. The cream lasted longer on the skin and helped it keep its moisture better than petroleum jelly. The last one lasted better than the regular moisturizer.

The researchers are hoping the product can be used to treat eczema, psoriasis and other skin conditions. The aim is to cover the itchy parts of the skin with a film that moistures and soothes.

According to Langer, the cream, after it dried into a film, it can be peeled off, or taken off with makeup remover.

Dermatologist Dr. Jennifer Lucas of the Cleveland Clinic said that she needs to see long-term results before making any judgments. She added that, even though it is a great idea, she believes that, for now, there is no magical cream to make people look younger. The doctor was not part of the research team.

Source: Nature Materials