The Forensic Potential of Mascara
Trace evidence collection and analysis is an essential part of crime scene investigation. When properly isolated, characterized, and analyzed, these trace particles can place a victim or perpetrator at the scene of the crime or accident—evidence that has proven to be an important clue to solving many cases.
However, investigators tend to stick to the usual suspects when collecting evidence—fingerprints, hair, blood, and fibers—evidence that a clever criminal will try to obscure. When routine trace evidence collection fails to produce any leads, it is often too late to return to the crime scene. Viable evidence has a short life span and becomes compromised if it is not collected right away. As a result, valuable information becomes lost.
One type of evidence that is often overlooked by both collectors and perpetrators is eyelashes, more specifically those with mascara. Although eyelashes fall into the category of fiber collection, they are often deemed too insignificant to collect compared to human hair or clothing fibers. This lack of attention can result in missed opportunities.
The abundance of trace eyelashes, coupled with brand loyalty among mascara users, could provide investigators the ability to place a suspect or victim at the scene of the crime by identifying the personal brand of mascara used. When properly collected, extracted, and analyzed, mascara becomes another tool in the arsenal of a crime scene investigator.