The Amazing ‘Second Skin’

The idea sounds like a fantasy: an invisible film that can be painted on your skin and give it the elasticity of youth. Bags under the eyes vanish in seconds. Wrinkles disappear!

And undereye bags are just the start. You can soak the film with sunscreen and protect yourself without worrying about sweat or water washing it away, researchers said. They expect it can be used to treat eczema, psoriasis and other skin conditions by covering dry itchy patches with a film that moistens and soothes.

Scientists at Harvard and M.I.T. have discovered that it is not fantasy at all. The researchers said a “second skin” composed of commonly used chemicals deemed safe by the Food and Drug Administration can accomplish that — and in small studies, so far no one has reported irritation or allergic reactions.

Those studies included tests on people with undereye bags and those with dry skin on their legs. In one study, participants put second skin on their forearms to see how quickly the skin returned to normal after it was pinched in a suction cup — a test of elasticity. In another study, people were randomly assigned to use second skin or a placebo under their eyes. Trained observers graded the subjects on the appearance of the undereye skin. The product’s durability was tested in volunteers who wore it while running in heat and working up a sweat, while swimming, and while going out in a rainstorm.

We are eager to see what comes of this.