With epoxy reinforced by short carbon fiber mats, a skin-like strain sensor, polymer-matrix smart layer was developed, which can continuously cover the structural surface to sense strain for the whole filed. The smart layer was proved to be an effective strain sensor for tensile strain up to 0.8% by a monotonic tension experiment, exceeding this limit cause nonlinearity in the resistance response. The damage sensitivity of the smart layer was revealed by the monitoring for a FRP beam with prefabricated defect. Based on its sensitivities, the smart layers was applied in the health monitoring for a concrete beam under three-point bending, the result showed a good correlation between the resistance change of the smart layer and the load applied on the structure. The emergency of structure damage can be monitored by the turning point on the resistance-deflection curve of the smart layer.