|A Marine from the 1st Battalion 9th Marines Charlie Company 2nd Platoon has camouflage paint placed on his face before a tactical demonstration, involving the V-22 Osprey, as part of Fleet Week in New York, May 26, 2012. REUTERS/Andrew Burton
In response to a request from the U.S. military, a team of scientists has developed new camouflage makeup that protects soldiers from the intense heat of bomb blasts. It's also waterproof, non-irritating and bug-repelling.
A thermal blast from a roadside bomb or other explosive "lasts only two seconds, but it can literally cook the face, hands and other exposed skin," said Dr. Robert Lochhead, who presented the findings Wednesday at a meeting of the American Chemical Society.
The U.S. Department of Defense wanted a heat-resistent lotion soldiers could apply like sunscreen that would also disguise their faces from the enemy.
Lochhead and his team at the University of Southern Mississippi came up with a substance they say protects the face and hands for up to 15 seconds before first-degree (mild) burns might occur. In some tests, it was effective for up to 60 seconds.
They used silicones instead of the more flammable hydrocarbons used in most makeup, and they found a way to incorporate DEET safely into the formula, the researchers said.
The makeup has passed initial testing and is to be developed further. The scientists will also test it on other surfaces to see if it can be used on tents and uniforms, and a colourless version is being developed for firefighters.