Depleted elasticity of the skin and overexposure to harmful ultraviolet rays causes wrinkles, but scientists say a new lab-created second skin could help correct this damage.

Researchers at MIT, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Olivo Labs and Jennifer Anistons beauty company Living Proof reported in a recently released research paper that the material has the potential to tighten, smooth and protect skin from harmful UV rays. With more development, their invention also could act as a delivery mechanism for medication, and help treat skin ailments like eczema and other types of dermatitis.

Its an invisible layer that can provide a barrier, provide cosmetic improvement, and potentially deliver a drug locally to the area thats being treated. Those three things together could really make it ideal for use in humans, study author Daniel Anderson, an associate professor in MITs Department of Chemical Engineering and a member of MITs Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES), said in a news release.

In their paper, published Monday in the journal Nature Materials, researchers demonstrated that the silicone-based polymer could be applied as a thin coating that matches the elastic and mechanical properties of young, healthy skin. When tested on humans, the material helped reshape under-eye bags and enhanced skin hydration.

According to the release, scientists invention has been about 10 years in the making. Their research included creating a library of more than 100 possible polymers that contained the chemical structure siloxane, a chain of alternating atoms of silicon and oxygen. Those polymers were organized into a network known as cross-linked polymer layer (XPL). Study authors tested the materials to identify one that would mimic the skins mechanical and optical properties.

Creating a material that behaves like skin is very difficult, study author Barbara Gilchrest, a dermatologist at MGH, said in the release. Many people have tried to do this, and the materials that have been available up until this have not had the properties of being flexible, comfortable, nonirritating, and able to conform to the movement of the skin and return to its original shape.

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