— -- Forget the in-office injections and pricey procedures.
Harvard and MIT scientists say they have created a "liquid Spanx" that could mean the end of wrinkles and cellulite and the start of more youthful skin, according to a new study released recently.
Scientists explained how the product, XPL, worked in their report, published in Nature.
First, an invisible cream containing a polymer is rubbed into the skin; then a catalyst is added to cause a "cross-linking" reaction. The end result: a soft, adherent layer that remains on the skin for a day and mimics the properties of young, healthy skin.
"We're very excited about the skin cream," said Robert Langer, an institute professor of chemical engineering who was involved in the study. "I think it's very unique. Basically, it has a whole bunch of very useful properties. It's invisible. It conforms to the skin. You can use it to deliver a drug, if you want, and it's mechanically quite strong."
He likened it to the popular brand of women's shapewear.
"It can tighten things in different parts of the body," Langer said. "I think we can kind of envision this as a kind of liquid Spanx."
Scientists said the product, which is composed of commonly used chemicals deemed safe by the Food and Drug Administration, could also be used to hold medicine in place to treat skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
To date, scientists said none of the 170 subjects included in the study had reported irritation or allergic reactions. Langer said Monday that more work needed to be done and that he was not sure when the product would be released to the public. While the chemicals are already FDA approved, scientists were not sure when they would be ready to submit XPL to the FDA for marketing approval.