Former CIA Disguise Master Explains How Spies Blend In

A former Chief of Disguise at the CIA shares how spies hide their appearances to keep people safe. From light disguise to the quick change, learn the tricks spies use to blend in with the crowd.

The goal with any disguise is to make someone safe, says Jonna Mendez, particularly someone an operative might be meeting with overseas. Many of these people are putting themselves at risk to speak to an American spy, so hiding what they look like is important for their continued safety.

The simplest way they can do this is through what they call “light disguise,” where the goal is to change the basic features of someone to make them difficult to recall. The goal here is to have someone, should they recall you at a later point, remember all the details incorrectly. If you are young, the disguise would age you. If you have dark hair, the disguise might lighten your hair.