Lipstick Print to I.D. Crime Suspects
It may not sound earth-shattering when compared to the advances that DNA has made in identifying the guilty parties for crime investigators – but it’s certainly one more weapon in the arsenal of truth and justice.
Scientists developed a new way to lift lipstick from surfaces and analyze it. Using gas chromatography, they will soon be able to forego traditional methods of lipstick removal and analysis – most of which involve difficult, expensive, and time-consuming steps. Trained specialists are needed to employ X-ray refraction or Raman spectroscopy, which involve observing changes in refraction patterns and analyzing molecular vibrations.
Believing they could improve this procedure, the team started eliminating unnecessary steps from the process. They fine-tuned the steps that remained, coming up with a final two-part method: First, add an organic solvent to remove the oils and waxes from the lipstick, then add a basic organic solvent to extract any remaining residue.
Once removed, the lipstick needs to be analyzed. The team investigated three types of chromatography, some of which were simple enough to be performed by an undergraduate scientist. To test which method would produce the best results, they made marks with 40 lipsticks, different brands of which have unique compositions of organic molecules.
The lab is still working through the analyses, but at this stage, gas chromatography technique seems to be producing the best results. The best part of this overall method is that it can be adopted by forensics labs as-is. No new training or equipment would be necessary for the process.