Don’t worry, this breakthrough isn’t quite as creepy as it sounds! The substance in question is a polymer film that stretches, acting as a second, barrier layer of “skin” helping camouflage any skin flaws and wrinkles. In short-term sights, the most exciting aspect of the innovative polymer skin is how easy it is to apply to give the appearance of a face lift. If you apply the polymer to your skin in the morning, you can wear it through the day and peel it right off come night.
In the future, however, this type of technology could actually serve as a larger purpose, helping to combat skin conditions like eczema, or as a general protection from the harmful rays of the sun. But for now, the cosmetic reasons are drawing the most attention.
The cross-linked polymer, or XPL, is actually applied in liquid form, in two steps, before solidifying upon the skin; this makes it particularly easy to shape it to your specific needs. The first layer is transparent, and is a cream holding the polymer. This is rubbed into the skin. The second layer contains a catalyst that gives the liquid its hold, by activating the polymer links and creating the peelable film.
This also leaves some interesting possibilities in terms of stage or costume makeup – who knows, maybe it will prove to be an easier medium to work with? Regardless of the actual intent, however, it is easy to see how this type of “artificial skin” would appeal to those with such facelift desires.
The result on eye bag tests were pretty impressive, and researchers believe similar effects could be achieved on other parts of the body, too, that have lost some of their elasticity over time, like cellulite. If that prospect isn’t uplifting, I don’t know what is. This polymer skin may be regarded as a miracle cosmetic worker, but those researching the matter have some larger possible applications.
They are looking into the possibility of creating the polymers with various medications on the surface, in order to administer them directly onto a patient’s skin, to ensure it isn’t washed off or incorrectly applied. There are so many possibilities for this new polymer substance, and it took a substantial amount of work to find the correct properties.
In fact, those who researched the polymer ended up looking into over 100 possibilities before ending up with the one being discussed today, as it had some of the same properties as natural skin. The “winning” polymer was then tested on over 300 people, in order to test for variations of flexibility and hydration. Even better, it was shown through one test that 24-hours of wearing the polymer resulted in greater moisture retention that without. Another proved the polymer remains invisible for up to 16 hours, at a 23:25 ratio. Out of all studies performed, no participants reported any discomfort or irritation from the XPL wearable skin.
The next step here is to figure out how to commercialize the product, according to lead developing researcher Robert Langer. “All of the components have been used in patients before and we’ve tested it in over 300 people, but, that being said, you have to do more,” said Langer in an interview with Scientific American. “I should say it appears to be safe for everything we’ve done – the ingredients, their history, and the trials that we’ve done – but none of this has been FDA approved yet.”
But with the success of the trials to date, there would seem to be a decent chance that things will progress rather quickly from here in terms of FDA approval. Regardless of speed, this whole concept will completely flip current ways of thinking about cosmetic enhancements, and could even prove to shape the future of skin protection.
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