Lipstick More Important than Ever as a Source of Forensic Evidence

28 Sep, 2013 | SEM & Imaging - Guide
Lipstick More Important than Ever as a Source of Forensic Evidence

Forensic scientists at the University of Kent have discovered a way to identify the brand of lipstick that was worn by a person at a crime scene. The new technique, Raman spectroscopy, means that possible contamination is avoided because evidence does not need to be removed from its bag.

Through the use of Raman spectroscopy – and its detection of laser light – lipstick marks deposited at a crime scene can be analysed while the sample is kept in isolation.

Lipstick is important in investigations of crime as its traces can be significant in establishing the physical contact shared between individuals, such as a victim and suspect, or simply to confirm that an individual was present at a crime scene.

Currently, analysis of lipstick traces depends on forensic techniques which are destructive or that rely on human opinion. In light of this, the newly discovered technique is especially important.

Professor Michael Went from the University of Kent’s School of Physical Sciences says that preserving evidence is extremely important in forensic science. Raman spectroscopy is perfect, since it can be used even through transparent layers, such as bags of evidence. It also allows for microscopic samples to be analysed quickly and without being destroyed.

Research into the viability of using the same method for other cosmetics, including foundation powders, skin creams and eye liners is now being conducted.