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Scientist: New makeup could protect soldiers from heat of bomb blasts

Scientists presenting at a meeting of the American Chemical Society claim to have developed camouflage makeup that can shield soldiers from the heat of a bomb blast. The makeup is the first of its kind that allows soldiers to stay hidden from enemies while protecting them from the potentially harmful heat of a bomb.

Robert Lochhead of the University of Southern Mississippi, presented the report at the meeting and said the new camouflage makeup would continue to allow soldiers to evade detection from enemies, a tradition that has been ongoing for centuries. However, this new makeup would also be able to save the soldiers from various explosions they might encounter in war zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

Lochhead said the makeup will help protect soldiers from the second dangerous blast a road side bomb can emit. He said the first blast is a wave of high pressure that can cause internal injuries. Next, a thermal blast is released from the bomb. “It is a wave of heat that exceeds 1,112 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s as hot as a burning cigarette,” Lochhead said. “The thermal blast lasts only two seconds, but it can literally cook the face, hands and other exposed skin.”

The U.S. Department of Defense has been searching for a solution to the thermal wave of road side bombs, but most, including Lochhead, thought it was impossible. The project called for scientists to create a material which could be spread on the face that leaves a layer thinner than paper, but could protect against absurdly high temperatures. Lochhead and his team developed a substance that protects the skin for up to 15 seconds, much longer than the two second thermal wave of a bomb.

After protecting the skin for 15 seconds, the makeup may cause a first degree, mild burn. In the lab, the length of protection of the makeup even reached 60 seconds, which could be used to help soldiers, and even firefighters, vacate areas of intense fire.

The makeup Lochhead and his team developed can reflect heat and contains DEET, an insect repellent. It is also waterproof, non-irritating, and can come in camouflage colors for day or night. It was crucial that the makeup not include mineral oil, mineral spirits, fatty substances, and other hydrocarbons usually in makeup as these ingredients often burn when they come in contact with intense heat. The team eventually decided on using silicones, which have been replacing hydrocarbons in makeup in recent years.

The revolutionary makeup was first revealed at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society that has been going on this week and concludes Thursday. Other discoveries and inventions revealed at the meeting included new denture adhesives, toothpaste that controls tartar, personal cleansing products, and more.