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Makeup Shields Soldiers’ Skin

ACS Meeting News: Novel formulation uses micrometer-size particles, silicone, and a polyacrylate hydrogel

by Bethany Halford
August 27, 2012 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 90, Issue 35

Camouflage makeup is getting a makeover. Chemists from the University of Southern Mississippi, in Hattiesburg, have developed paint for the face and hands that can protect soldiers from the extreme temperatures of a bomb blast. The ballistic thermal blast from a roadside bomb is intense enough to cause lethal burns, explained Robert Y. Lochhead, who spearheaded development of the new makeup. So Lochhead and his research group set out to create a makeup that could reflect such searing heat away from the skin. The new makeup’s formulation includes micrometer-sized pigment particles, which reflect heat from a flame, as well as a base made from silicones. Because the military requires that all camouflage makeup contain at least 35% of the insect repellent N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide, or DEET, the researchers encapsulated DEET in a polyacrylate hydrogel. So far, thermal tests indicate the new makeup is able to keep surfaces from reaching 60 °C—the temperature at which skin burns—for 10 to 27 seconds, depending on pigment color. That exceeds the military’s target of four seconds. The makeup is currently being tested for durability, wear, and comfort.


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