The Loh Down On Science

Better Foundation

The army and me--we never leave the house without makeup.

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science, and on a fresh new warfare innovation.

For thousands of years, camouflage--specifically camouflage makeup--has helped wearers hide from enemies.

Now, University of Southern Mississippi’s Robert Lochhead and colleagues have taken camouflage makeup one-step further. Their new version protects wearers’ skin from the searing heat of fires and bomb blasts.

Oil or wax-based makeup can melt and make burns worse. The new face paint, however, is made from silicones, rather than flammable hydrocarbons. It shields skin for up to fifteen seconds before heating up to the point that a mild, first-degree burn could occur. Luckily, the heat wave from most explosions lasts only about two seconds.

For field use, camouflage needs to come in day and night colors, be waterproof, non–irritating, and easily applied and removed. Lochhead’s lotion scored well all around. It goes on like sunscreen, and even includes insect repellent.

Of course now that they have this makeup, they’re going to need the right army boots to go with it. I have every confidence.

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC Pasadena, California. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.


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