Exciting Breakthrough in Skin Care

by The Cosmetic Chemist Staff
June 1, 2016

illustration of futuristic person

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, working in collaboration with Living Proof, OlivoLabs, and Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, recently published an article in Nature Materials about a novel, elastic material that is placed over the skin and provides enhanced mechanical properties and increases the visual aesthetics of aged, wrinkled skin.1 The synthetic layer of skin consists of a cross-linked polymer, based on poly(siloxane) chemistry, that is adhesive to the skin while maintaining an acceptable degree of elasticity and flexibility. In addition to its cosmetic properties, the novel “second skin” also offers promise as a wound healing dressing, active delivery vehicle, and an agent in the prevention of transepidermal water loss.

The “second skin” material is applied to in vivo skin by way of a two-step procedure—similar to that employed for taking impressions of skin with skin replicas (e.g., Silflo). In the first step, a flowable polysiloxane material is placed on the skin allowing it to fill the contours and adapt to the skin topography. In the second step, a platinum catalyst material is added to the polysiloxane resulting in cross-linking of the polymer. As a result of this in situ process, a three-dimensional polymer network forms a thin, transparent film on the skin’s surface. According to the authors of the study, all of the chemicals placed on the skin are on the Generally Regarded as Safe list of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Overall, the results of the study are impressive. There is even a video available on Nature’s website in which an in vivo comparison is carried out of both sides of the face—one treated with the polymeric agent and the other with no treatment. The adhesive properties are certainly unique. However, some care should be taken when visualizing the two sides of the face, as the lighting in the video is slightly darker on one side compared to the other.

The article was co-authored by a number of extremely well know researchers in the world of dermatological research including Barbara Gilchrest, Rox Anderson, and Robert Langer. Living Proof is an innovative finished goods company located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Their current product offering is in the hair care arena, focused on a variety of products from cleansing to styling to conditioning and repair. OlivoLabs is a biotechnology startup focused on addressing important problems in dermatology and cosmetic science.

1. B. Yu, S.-Y. Kang, A. Akthakul, N. Ramadurai, M. Pilkenton, A. Patel, A. Nashat, D.G. Anderson, F.H. Sakamoto, B.A. Gilchrest, R.R. Anderson, and R. Langer, An elastic second skin, Nature Mater., DOI: 10.1038/NMAT4635 (2016).