Hydrophilic vs. hydrophobic lens coatings: What's the difference?

October 29, 2021

The answer to "What’s the difference between hydrophilic and hydrophobic?" is a big deal in the safety world, especially when it comes to safety eyewear.

Before we tell you why, let’s break down the words:

    Hydro – water

    Phobic – having a fear or aversion to a specific thing

    Philic - having a fondness, especially an abnormal love, for a specified thing

Simply put, 'hydrophobic' means water adverse, and 'hydrophilic' means water-loving.

The reason this is a must-know for safety eyewear is due to anti-fog coatings. Most workers in the industrial space are aware of the need for anti-fog safety glasses, but what they probably don’t know is the science behind what makes these two kinds of anti-fog technology work.

Let's break down the differences.

Hydrophobic

Most coatings in the North American market are hydrophobic. Hydrophobic anti-fog coatings are soap-based and work by repelling and spreading the fog moisture as it hits the lens. As the moisture spreads, it eliminates the fogging on the lens.

While this is effective for a short period of time, environments with heavy fogging will end up causing severe visibility issues as the moisture builds up on the lens, compromising compliance. What's more, this kind of coating will wash off over time due to its soap-based qualities.

Hydrophilic

Moisture-loving coatings are known as hydrophilic. Unlike hydrophobic coatings that repel water, hydrophilic coatings act like a microscopic sponge by interacting and absorbing moisture into the coating -eliminating fogging almost instantly. The coating is able to hold a high amount of moisture and naturally releases that moisture at the edge of lenses, making hydrophilic lenses difficult to fog up.

Additionally, hydrophilic coatings are not soap-based, meaning they won’t wash off like hydrophobic coatings. That's because hydrophilic coatings are made with a proprietary chemistry that creates a polymer bond, permanently adhering the coating to the polycarbonate lens.


What coating do you need?

Make sure before purchasing safety eyewear, you ask what kind of anti-fog coating will be on your lenses. While both hydrophilic and hydrophobic coatings can be effective, remember that one coating remains permanently while the other washes off over time. Here are four things to consider before purchasing safety eyewear.

At HexArmor®, we believe coatings that last the lifetime of the eyewear help keep your safety glasses working effectively so you don’t have to take them off. Wearability = compliance.

HexArmor® can help

All of HexArmor’s anti-fog coatings are hydrophilic, so when fog hits the lens it absorbs into the coating – eliminating fog completely. Plus, they're four-times thicker than the competition and chemically engineered to not wash off. Meet our four completely unique coatings that outperform even the highest-performing competitors in the industry.

Plus, all of HexArmor's safety eyewear is Z87+ approved, so you know you're getting the best eye protection on the market - see our safety eyewear technology.

Let us know if you need help - our Solution Specialists are ready to work with you. Call 1-877-MY ARMOR or send us a message.

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