Read My Lips…You’ll have a great time studying lip prints!

There are too many unique characteristics to count that makes each one of us who we are. Just like fingerprints, no two people have exactly the same lip prints. And like fingerprints, lip prints are used by forensic scientists to figure out who may have been at the scene of a mysterious event—for example, if there is a cup or glass that someone has used.

Did you know that there is a whole field of study dedicated to examining lip prints?  The study of lip prints is called cheiloscopy.

Six General Lip Print Types

All of our lip print patterns fall into six general types:

Type I: Lip grooves run in straight lines from top to bottom. They may be the whole or about half the lip height.

Type II:  Lip grooves run in straight lines from top to bottom like Type I, but half the lip height.

Type III: Lip grooves look like the branches of a tree.

Type IV: Lip grooves are criss-crossed.

Type V: Lip grooves look like mesh or a net.

Type VI: Lip grooves don’t quite fit into the other four categories.

The pattern of lip prints by Suzuki and Tsuchihashi 


Red or pink lipstick

Clear tape—wide packing tape is best for this activity

Cocoa powder

Magnifying glass

Drinking cups or glasses

Soft round paint or makeup brush

Index cards, cut in half

White paper

Pucker up for some groovy lip print fun!

These activities will teach us how to collect fingerprints. This technique is not all that much different from how real detectives collect fingerprints at scenes of mysterious events. This might take a little practice, but once you get the hang of it, you can show off your sleuthing skills.

Note: These activities are just for fun. Don’t try this outside your home, your friends’ home, or a safe place supervised by a groovy grown-up. And never interfere with the work of real detectives and investigators. It’s against the law!

Activity 1: What’s Your Lip Print Type?

  1. Put your favorite lipstick on your lips. 
  2. Rub your lips together to cover the entire lip surface, and allow to dry for a minute or two—if the lipstick is too wet, it will smudge and you won’t get a clear print. 
  3. Take a piece of clear tape and press your lips firmly on the sticky side. 
  4. Carefully peel the tape off your lips and stick to a white piece of paper. Use your magnifying glass to examine your lip print carefully. 

    Describe what you see. Do your lips have straight lines from top to bottom, or do the lines look like tree branches or mesh? Are there any other special features on your lip print?

Now that you’ve taken a close look at your own lip print pattern, include some STEM Friends or STEM Family and take your detective skills to the next level!

A magnifying glass taking a closer look at a lip print made with lipstick.

Activity 2: Matching Lip Prints

  1. Using the steps from Activity 1, have your friends or family collect their lip prints using their favorite lipstick and a piece of wide clear tape. 
  2. Stick each lip print to a small index card, shuffle the cards and label them with numbers. 
  3. Have each person take a small sip of water from a plastic cup. 
  4. Sprinkle a small amount of cocoa powder near the rim of the cups and brush away excess with the paint or makeup brush to make the lip prints clearly visible. 
  5. Blow away any excess powder. 
  6. For each cup, take a piece of tape and press it firmly to the prints, then pull the tape away to lift the prints. 
  7. Stick each one to a piece of paper labeled with each friend or family member’s name and use your magnifying glass to see if you can match each person’s lip print to the numbered print.

Were you able to match all the prints? What types of lip prints do your friends and family have? Does one type occur more than others?With all your groovy sleuthing skills, you and your STEM Friends and STEM Family can create mystery scenarios to solve using lip print clues!

For more challenging play try a monthly-themed Groovy Lab in a BoxThere is no better way to educate your STEMists than to keep their minds screen-free, design learning to create and solve, through the engineering design process and STEM-related activities. Furthermore, our monthly box activates thinking, questioning, inquiring and original creation as we guide children through scientific inquiry and engineering design process.

For more about forensics and a mystery you can solve check out our “Magical Mystery” box for a Lesson in Forensics. During your ENGINEERING DESIGN CHALLENGE you will learn about  forensic science, cryptography, spy messaging, and much, much more.

A groovy approach to hands-on Next Generation Science Standards,  design based learning… Groovy Lab in a Box!

Share It!