Fans of any of the popular crime lab shows on TV may like to say “thank you” to a French criminologist named Edmond Locard.[i] Dubbed the “French Sherlock Holmes”, he opened the very first crime lab in Lyon, France in 1910. Locard, a student of both medicine and law, was interested in discovering all that he could about what he called the “trace evidence” left behind and carried away from the scene of a crime. He came up with the underlying principle of forensic science, that “every contact leaves a trace.” In his laboratory, he studied footprints, fingerprints, lip prints, hair and thread samples, and anything that might lead an investigator to understand what had happened at a crime scene, and more importantly, who was there when it happened. Locard’s interest in lip prints was purely for forensic purposes.

The work of Edmond Locard preceded extensive studies done by American “medicolegal forensic specialist” LeMoyne Snyder, as well as Japanese, Hungarian  and Indian researchers beginning in 1950. Two of those scientists, Yasuo Suchhihashi and Kazuo Suzuki, examined 1,364 persons at the department of forensic odontology at Tokyo University from 1968 to 1971.[ii] They estab­lished that the arrangement of lines on the red part of the human lips is individual and unique for each human being. This kind of study of lip prints would come to be called cheiloscopy. None of these forensically based studies seem to have included the other features of a lip print, such as the fullness, shape, and size, but instead focused on the uniquely individual furrows that each lip print presents. Therefore, if a print is not of high enough quality to distinguish these almost microscopic lines, the forensic value of the print is diminished.

Ironically, nowadays with modern technology it’s possible to identify the owner of a print with a simple DNA sample taken from the area of the print, making the quality of the print less important than the presence of it.

All of these early studies of the nature and qualities of lip prints had nothing to do with classic physiognomy or what you will learn from reading my book, What’s Your LipStory?.  The goal of these past studies was to find a way to identify the owner of a lip print using individually unique identifiers, like the ones we have in our fingerprints. And the research succeeded… but our lip prints have much more to reveal to us than “who done it!”

* Physiognomy is any modality by which you look at the outside of the person to understand the inner person, and a part of the person to understand the whole person. Lip print reading, like face reading, toe reading, hand reading and personology, is a form of physiognomy.

Excerpted from What’s My LipStory? An Illustrated Guide to Understanding the Messages in Your Lip Prints by Pamela Fox Copyright © 2015 by Pamela Fox

[i] Read more about Edmond Locard at:

Forensics and Lip Prints: