Cookie banner

This site uses cookies. Select "Block all non-essential cookies" to only allow cookies necessary to display content and enable core site features. Select "Accept all cookies" to also personalize your experience on the site with ads and partner content tailored to your interests, and to allow us to measure the effectiveness of our service.

To learn more, review our Cookie Policy, Privacy Notice and Terms of Use.

clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The CIA Invested In a Skincare Line, Possibly for DNA Collection Purposes

Photo: Clearista/Facebook

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

Clearista is a skincare brand that sells "at-home skin resurfacing solutions," consisting of a pricey gel and pen that supposedly work in the same way as a chemical peel or a laser. The products have been tested by beauty bloggers and were featured in Oprah Winfrey's O magazine.

But there's a wild backstory behind Clearista's parent brand Skincential Sciences. The Intercept dug up documents revealing that the company received funding by the Central Intelligence Agency.

First of all, who knew that there's a venture capital arm of the CIA? It's called the In-Q-Tel, and something about the way Clearista works as a peel caught In-Q-Tel's attention.

"They’re interested here in something that can get easy access to biomarkers," Skincential Sciences chief executive Russ Lebovitz told The Intercept.

He claimed that he didn't know entirely what the CIA had in mind for its investment in the beauty business, just that perhaps the technology his company has developed could be used in crime scene identification or for drug tests. "There’s no better identifier than DNA, and we know we can pull out DNA," he said.

As if we didn't have enough things to be paranoid about already, the CIA's gotta get involved in our skincare routine.