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Olivo Laboratories

Polymeric second skin erases signs of aging and provides a protective layer for skin conditions

by Bethany Halford
October 31, 2016 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 94, ISSUE 43

Olivo Laboratories

Launched: 2015

Headquarters: Cambridge, Mass.

Focus: dermatology, cosmetics, and drug delivery

Technology: polymeric second skin for medical and cosmetic applications

Founders: Daniel G. Anderson, Rox Anderson, and Robert Langer

Funding or notable partners: Polaris Partners and Living Proof

With age comes wisdom and life experience, but there’s also that undesirable baggage one accumulates while racking up the years—specifically, those ugly bags of skin that bulge beneath the eyes.

Scientists at Olivo Laboratories have created a polymeric skin treatment that erases wrinkles and firms up unsightly under-eye bags in a matter of minutes. That same wrinkle-erasing treatment isn’t just for making us look better; it could make people with serious skin conditions feel better, too.

Olivo calls the product XPL second skin. XPL stands for cross-linked polymer layer, a descriptor of the product’s chemistry and a way of differentiating it from other so-called second skins on the market, explains the company’s interim CEO, Amir Nashat.

The idea, says Daniel G. Anderson, one of Olivo’s scientific founders and a chemical engineering professor at MIT, was first dreamed up about eight years ago at Living Proof, a maker of high-end hair care products that Olivo spun off from.

Most cosmetics that claim to smooth wrinkles or lessen the appearance of bags under the eyes don’t actually work, Anderson says. Those that do, he adds, take weeks of use before even minor changes are visible. The researchers’ goal was to create something that had an immediately visible effect as soon as it was applied to the face, Anderson explains.

The polymer is created directly on the skin by first applying a cream containing fumed silica and a polysiloxane. A second cream that contains platinum is then applied. The platinum acts as a catalyst for a hydrosilylation reaction that cross-links the polysiloxane into a three-dimensional silicone elastomer—the XPL second skin—that’s two to three times as thick as the skin’s topmost layer. It’s during the polymerization that the skin tightens up.

The material also contains nylon particles that scatter light to provide a natural appearance. It peels off for easy removal. Olivo reported the work in Nature Materials in May (DOI: 10.1038/nmat4635).

The second-skin concept may ring a bell with beauty mavens. In 2014, Living Proof introduced a two-step under-eye treatment called Neotensil. The product cost $500 for a seven-week supply and was only available by prescription. But the company discontinued it after less than a year. Anderson tells C&EN that Neotensil and XPL second skin are related, but not identical.

Wrinkle remover
Credit: Yang H. Ku/C&EN/Shutterstock
Olivo’s XPL second skin is applied in two steps. The first component contains fumed silica and polysiloxane. The second contains a platinum catalyst that cross-links the first layer via hydrosilylation. The result is a barrier layer that tightens skin.

And while it’s possible that XPL second skin might one day be available at the cosmetics counter, Anderson says the company is currently focused on using it to treat skin conditions such as eczema and atopic dermatitis. Bandages for many such conditions can be primitive, he points out. Patients will often slather their skin in Vaseline and cover it with Saran wrap.

“The thinking was that if you could have a barrier that was therapeutic but also provided an aesthetic advantage over Saran wrap, it could really help a lot of people,” Anderson explains.

The move toward medical applications isn’t a big surprise considering that Robert Langer, an MIT chemical engineering professor and founder of many companies focused on medicine, and Rox Anderson, a dermatologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, are also among Olivo’s scientific founders.

“There hasn’t been a lot of innovation in skin care,” Nashat notes. “Hopefully, we’ll inspire other people.”

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Anne Wyckoff (January 11, 2017 7:47 AM)
Many news articles came out in May of 2016 raising expectations about "Second Skin," a product to treat under-eye bags and wrinkles. Such articles usually explained that it was invented with the cooperation of experts at MIT and represents a completely new breakthrough in cosmetics that can tackle the difficult issue of wrinkles--especially around the eyes.Surprisingly, they almost never mention the product "Neotensil," which seems to be *nearly* identical, came out in 2014, and has since been removed from the market.
I believe it would do the company (and the product) a great deal of good to explain the *differences* between the former expensive polymer treatment and the new one. Otherwise, it tends to look like something is either being covered incorrectly or that the new product is not very different from the 2014 product. Either it really lasts a full day, has improved elasticity, and can be used with makeup-- or the coverage will leave many people dissappointed.
I am hoping for success and looking forward to this issue being cleared up!
Glenda Sutton (January 26, 2017 3:52 PM)
I was very excited to learn about the development of this product and have been waiting anxiously for news pertaining to a release date to the public. I'm sure there must be thousands of women who feel the same way. We're watching our appearance grow steadily worse day by day while our husbands still look like they did 10 years ago. Why are we being left hanging? Will someone please give us a little news about XPL Second Skin?
kamlesh taank (March 5, 2017 5:02 AM)
Hey This is Kamlesh From India, I have suffring from melasma, and I was keep searching for solution that lead me here, I hope I would get news about the availability of XPL second skin soon.
Danise (March 9, 2017 1:05 AM)
Can we get an update, please? I thought it was supposed to be released the first of 2017. If we could just get information as to whether it needs more testing or it will be released around such and such a date, that would be nice. ANY information you can give us.
Sherry (March 11, 2017 3:05 PM)
I am also following this closely and noticed the following recent post on their website: They appear to be gearing up to run trials with people in the Boston and NYC areas.
Angelica bonds (April 30, 2017 2:07 PM)
I have been suffering with a scar on the side of my face for quite some time I noticed your article on the xpl it is something that I am interested in with the scar on my face it has affected my life for 30 years it's hard for me to even be in a relationship who wants to be with a woman that has a scar on her face I am hurt by this it has just affected my life tremendously please let me know when this xpl is coming out I think that it will save my life please help me I really really really need this
Kacy (June 3, 2017 1:05 AM)
Like the previous poster I have facial scarring. It was caused by a genetic condition and can't be improved by conventional aesthetic treatments. This has had a profound effect on me psychologically. I would happily buy or trial this product if there is a chance it could improve my appearance.

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