Personal Camouflage & Face Paint

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jeff Jerome, attached to the Civil Engineers of the 110th Fighter Wing, during an Operational Readiness Inspection at the Alpena Combat Training Center in Michigan, 20 July 2005
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jeff Jerome, attached to the Civil Engineers of the 110th Fighter Wing, during an Operational Readiness Inspection at the Alpena Combat Training Center in Michigan, 20 July 2005.

Today in WW II: 18 Oct 1941 General Hideki Tojo becomes the 40th Prime Minister of Japan, serving until 22 July 1944 when he was forced out by the loss of Saipan.  More 
18 Oct 1943 Third Moscow Conference: US Britain, and the Soviets discuss the progress of the war against Germany and post-war methods to ensure peace [18 Oct-11 Nov].
18 Oct 1944 Volkssturm founded by Hitler, mobilizing all German civilian males between sixteen and sixty for a suicidal final defense of the Third Reich.
Visit the World War II Timeline for day-by-day events 1939-1945! See also WW2 Books.

Principles of Personal Camouflage

The need for camouflage arose because of advancing technology that permitted the enemy to observe troop concentrations and movement. In World War I this took the form of airplanes and balloons for aerial observation plus telescopes and binoculars. Modern satellite-borne cameras or small and hard-to-detect unmanned aerial vehicles can fly several thousand feet overhead, quietly gathering intelligence. In addition to this long-range surveillance capability, improved thermal and night-vision equipment as well as continuing advances in optics make concealment of ground forces ever more difficult. This is particularly true for Special Forces, snipers, and others where surprise or the ability to move undetected are key to their mission.

Face camouflage is one part of a total approach to concealment. Effective personal camouflage depends on studying the local terrain and vegetation to pick material and colors that best blend with the area. Patterned uniforms and use of vegetation attached to helmets are basic, but exposed skin stands out. This requirement is the reason for camouflage face paint.

How to Camouflage

Instructors at the U.S. Army Sniper School at Fort Benning, GA offer this advice on soldier's camouflage:

  • When applying camouflage paint to your skin, work with a buddy. Apply a two or three color combination of camouflage in an irregular pattern. Face paint in wooded areas should be short vertical stripes, consistent with vegetation. Other terrain dictates locally consistent patterns to match.
  • Paint shiny areas -- forehead, cheekbones, nose, ears, and chin -- with a dark color. Paint shadow areas -- around the eyes, under the nose and under the chin -- with a light color.
  • Don't forget the back of the neck, arms and hands. Palms of hands are not normally camouflaged if arm-and-hand signals are not to be used. Remove all jewelry to further reduce shine or reflection.
  • Study the terrain and vegetation and pick camouflage material that best blends with the area.
  • Change camouflage as needed. When moving from one area to another, blend with the surroundings. Take grass, leaves, brush and other material from your location and apply it to your uniform and equipment and put face paint on your skin.
  • Do not over-camouflage. Too much camouflage material may actually disclose a position. Get your camouflage material from a wide area. An area stripped of all or most of its vegetation may draw attention.
  • Helmets. Camouflage your helmet with leaves, grass or sticks. Use strings, burlap strips or rubber bands to hold those in place. If there is no material for a helmet cover, disguise and dull helmet surface with irregular patterns of paint or mud.
  • Uniforms. Add more camouflage to make the uniform blend better with the surroundings. To do this, put mud on the uniform or attach leaves, grass or small branches to it.

Camouflage Face Paint Kits

Applying camouflage face paint from Paint, Face, Camouflage, Compact

Camouflage face paint described here in compact form provides passive camouflage protection in the visible and near infrared regions of the electromagnetic spectrum, while camouflage face paint in stick form provides protection only in the visible region of the spectrum. Camouflage face paint, nearly odorless, will not reduce the natural sensing capabilities of the soldier and will not cause any health hazards such as skin irritation or toxicity if ingested.

Paint, Face, Camouflage, Stick Form

Paint, Face, Camouflage, Stick Form. The sticks come with two colors per stick in a tube that opens on both ends, one color on each end. The three combinations of colors are Loam & Light Green for vegetated areas (NSN 6850-01-161-6204), Loam & White for snow (NSN 6850-01-161-6203), Sand & Light Green for dry or desert areas (NSN 6850-01-161-6202). The NSN depends on the color combination, for example 6850-01-161-2602 for the Light Green & Sand stick pictured. The specification number is MIL-P-2018F.

Paint, Face, Camouflage, Compact Form

Paint, Face, Camouflage, Compact. The compact is an olive green plastic case, measuring 3 in. x 2.5 in. x 5/8 in. thick. The outside is embossed with the following:

Paint, Face, Camouflage
Manufacturer Name
Contract Number
Apply with Finger to Dry
Skin – Caution – Avoid
Contact With Eyes

The inside of the case contains a 2x2 in. mirror on the inside of the lid to assist in self application of a pattern. The bottom of the case holds four camouflage colors: white, tan, loam and dark green. When new, the mirror is covered by a plastic protective sheet. The specification number is MIL-P-2018H.

Camouflage Face Paint Compact With Insect Repellant

Camouflage Face Paint with DEET insect repellent, NSN 6840-01-493-7334, and without insect repellent, NSN 6850-01-493-7309, provide visual and near infrared camouflage protection, while the compact with DEET also provides a threshold of eight hours of insect repellent. The five color compacts provide sufficient material for 20 applications of green, loam, and sand, and 10 applications of black and white. The compact is suitable for multi-terrain environmental conditions from arctic to desert. Face paints with insect repellent are supplied in a tan colored compact, while the non-repellent face paints are furnished in an olive drab compact for quick identification.

In 2005 a new Combined Camouflage Face Paint (CCFP) with DEET in stick-type dispensers became available in addition to the DEET-containing compact form.

Find More Information on the Internet

There are many fine websites that have additional information on this topic, too many to list here and too many to keep up with as they come and go. Use this Google web search form to get an up to date report of what's out there.

For good results, try entering this: face camo or camouflage. Then click the Search button.