The reformulation, which sees hydrocarbon ingredients replaced with silicones, was revealed at the recent 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, as part of a broader symposium on innovations and ingredients for personal care products.
Although the development is not likely to make it on to high street products, it does underline some of the less aesthetic applications for make-up, which the developer also claims could be used to as heat-resistant make-up for firemen.
The innovation was developed by a team at the University of Mississippi, headed up by Robert Lochead, PhD, who claims that this is the first functional development in camouflage make-up since it was first used by soliders hundreds of years ago.
Searing heat of bomb blasts poses big risks
But with the evolution of technologically advanced warfare, the emphasis is no longer just on disguising the soldiers from the enemy, but also to provide them protection against advanced explosives that can throw a wall of head said to exceed 1,112 Fahrenheit.
Although this explosive heat only last for a few seconds, the risk of burns to the unprotected exposed skin is extremely high, and can often lead to injuries that require extensive medical treatment.
"The detonation of a roadside bomb or any other powerful explosive produces two dangerous blasts," Lochhead said.
"First comes a blast wave of high pressure that spreads out at supersonic speeds and can cause devastating internal injuries. A thermal blast follows almost instantaneously. It is a wave of heat that exceeds 1,112 degrees Fahrenheit. That's as hot as a burning cigarette. The thermal blast lasts only two seconds, but it can literally cook the face, hands and other exposed skin."
Silicones increase heat resistance
The new camouflage makeup protects any exposed skins, such as face and hands, for 15 to 60 seconds, providing enough protection to prevent a first degree burn from occurring.
The researchers stated that it had to develop a formula that avoided the use of mineral oil, mineral spirits and fatty substances – traditional ingredients for camouflage make-up – because these substances can exacerbate the effects of burns.
Instead the team turned to silicones, which are not as flammable because they absorb radiation at wavelengths outside the intense heat spectrum. Silicones have also been replacing hydrocarbon ingredients in many commercial make-up products because it confer better texture and transfer resistance.
Lochhead says his team is working on different applications for the technology to protect textiles under the same circumstances, while also developing a colorless version of the formulation that can be used by firefighters.