Fomblin – Have You Fombled?


Almost no idea is so far fetched that somebody somewhere hasn’t proposed using it as the basis of a new cosmetic.  This came to mind the other day when the element fluorine was mentioned in a conversation I was having.  This triggered off word association in my brain and reminded me of a meeting some twenty years ago.  The proposal was to use highly fluorinated compounds in skin products.  The technical name was perfluorocarbons, but the trade name was Fomblin.

The advantage claimed was that Fomblins – there were several of them to choose from – were highly hydrophobic.  They didn’t just resist water, they positively repelled it.  Indeed these compounds are related to Teflon, but are even more non-stick.  The water repelling property had already been used to coat the hulls of yachts in races to reduce the drag and increase their speed.

The benefits of this for the skin were obvious.  Water is a bad thing and if you could keep it away from the skin then this would herald a new generation of super moisturising creams that would outstrip everything else on the market.  We were just lucky that we were being offered it in time so that we wouldn’t be left behind.

Well we gave it a try, and although the theory certainly sounded good it didn’t live up to its promise when we put it into a formulation and we lost interest.  But I did wonder if we might be missing something big and whether we should put a bit more effort into evaluating it.   But fluorinated skin creams didn’t sweep the market after all so I suppose other people’s experience was much the same as ours.  Nonetheless, lots of things hang on so I have just done a quick search and discovered that Fomblins are still available and are still being promoted for their skin benefits.

I don’t recall seeing them on any ingredient lists, so I wonder where they turn up.  The name that they would be under would be Polyperfluoromethylisopropyl Ether.  If you have a product that you like that contains this stuff I’d be intrigued to know if you notice anything different about it.

Photo credit: Fairbridge 2011-06-16 13-39-44 via photopin (license)

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