As we age, our skin loses elasticity and moisture. It’s a natural process that happens to everyone, but ten years ago a team of researchers decided to see if they could change that. They set out to design a coating that could revitalize skin, making it healthier. Now they are announcing successful experiments of this “second skin” that appears to give wearers a youthful appearance.

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Led by biomedical engineer Robert Langer of MIT, the team included researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital, beauty company Living Proof, and Olivo Labs. Their second skin, made of “a silicone-based polymer,” creates a breathable layer on skin, keeping in moisture and appearing to smooth and tighten skin. The team tested their coating on areas of the body such as under eye bags, legs, and forearms. The invisible, wearable coating can last for around 24 hours, and will stand up to water and sweat.

Related: Is this protein the key to an anti-aging pill?

When they experimented with skin water loss, the researchers found that the second skin performed better than moisturizers on the market, keeping in more moisture. They performed multiple studies and none of the experiment participants reacted negatively to the coating.

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The BBC spoke with Dr. Tamara Griffiths of the British Association of Dermatologists who seemed optimistic about the research. She said, “The results [with the polymer film] appear to be comparable to surgery, without the associated risks. Further research is needed, but this is a novel and very promising approach to a common problem. I will follow its development with interest.”

The researchers noted that the second skin may have applications beyond beauty. With more research, the coating could be adapted to transmit medicine or protect wearers from harmful sun rays, or treat conditions such as eczema. What do you think? Is this second skin a medical breakthrough or simply an appeal to our vanity?

Via the BBC

Images via Melanie Gonick/MIT and Olivo Labs