Every cosmetics company on the planet has a product it claims will reduce wrinkles and erase the signs of aging, but researchers at MIT have developed a genuine facelift-in-a-tube with a new cream that creates an extra layer of invisible artificial skin to smooth out the wearer’s natural skin.

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Researchers at MIT and Harvard developed the underlying science for the material, and a private biotechnology company called Living Proof manufactured the film itself. The so-called XPL (short for cross-linked polymer layer) is applied in a simple two-step process that creates rather miraculous results. The first layer is made up of polysiloxane components, while the second is a platinum catalyst that causes those polymers in the first to connect and form a strong film that can withstand washing and other wear and tear, for up to 24 hours. The research was published today in Nature Materials.

Applications for the film extend beyond getting rid of wrinkles, though. It can safely deliver medications for 24 hours at a time as well as protect the user’s skin, particularly over wounds. Additionally, the XPL material can reduce moisture loss. But the average consumer, especially those getting on in years, will probably be most excited about the cream’s potential use as an easy way to tighten skin, smooth out wrinkles, and take a few years off.

In its prime, natural human skin can be stretched about 180 percent and still return to its original state. But MIT’s artificial skin can be elongated more than 250 percent without sagging or becoming damaged. Over time, human skin also loses its ability to snap back, resulting in unwanted effects like the bags under someone’s eyes. But in testing, the researchers found that an application of the XPL material was able to compress areas of loose skin under a subject’s eyes, effectively reducing their bags and giving them a more youthful experience.

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There’s no word on when this magic goop will start appearing on the shelves at your local pharmacy or in late-night informercials. Living Proof created a new company called Olivo Laboratories for the development of XPL technology that plans to further refine and test the cream. Eventually, the startup plans to bring it to market. As for the MIT and Harvard scientists who did the research, they all have equity stakes and stand to get very rich off their magical wrinkle cream.

[MIT News]