You know you’ve made it in Hollywood when you’re the star of Marvel Studios’ first-ever superhero movie with a solo female lead. That’s what Brie Larson has achieved with Captain Marvel, a box office sensation that surpassed $1 billion in ticket sales worldwide.
But long before she was waging war on aliens—or winning an Oscar and Golden Globe for her role in Room—the 31-year-old was a child actress and teen pop singer. And she has been walking the red carpet since the tender age of 12!
In recent years, Brie has often appeared in our celebrity beauty reports, but she never struck me as an obvious candidate for a Before & After. (Not like Khloé Kardashian or Ellie Goulding, where you just know their features have been altered.)
However, when I learned that she’d been acting for such a long time, I couldn’t resist tracking down her early photos... and I was surprised at what I found!
Let’s take a look at Brie’s beauty evolution from 2002 to the present.
From 2002: Brie as a Tween
At the 2002 Los Angeles Premiere of ‘The Time Machine’
Our first shot is a 12-year-old Brie, rocking the short, piecey bangs that so many of us had back in middle school (!!). If this was her natural hair colour, it’s gorgeous. But hairstyles in general were just bad in the early 2000s... and I’ve got an even worse example next!
At the 2002 Los Angeles Premiere of ‘Hey Arnold!: The Movie’
Right?! She really went for it here—the stiff curled bangs, the knotty updo, the faux flower, the one red streak of hair. All essential elements in anyone’s early 2000s look.
From 2003-2009: The Teenage Years
At the 2003 Los Angeles Premiere of ‘The Cat in the Hat’
The following year, Brie went blonde, and actually, these highlights are pretty good. Plus, most importantly, the bangs were growing out! She was 14 by this time, so her features were starting to look more grown-up. Two things stand out for me here: her nose, and her hooded eyes. Keep an eye on how they change.
At the 2004 Los Angeles Premiere of ‘Home on the Range’
In 2004, Brie channelled a cowgirl with braids and a bandana tied around her neck. She looks so fresh-faced with just the lip gloss. (Although already, she was plucking her brows—such was the trend!) Fun fact: Brie was one of the Six Chicks in 13 Going on 30 that same year.
At the 2006 Los Angeles Premiere of ‘Snakes on a Plane’
Two years later, Brie made a radical change to her look with a wavy blonde bob and side-swept bangs. Isn’t this hair colour so 2006?! Hairdressers loved the brassy tones back then. She was only 16 in this shot, but somehow looks far more mature than her years.
At the 2007 Los Angeles Premiere of ‘The Beautiful Ordinary’
Then, another completely different look in 2007. (This will be a theme with her!) Suddenly, Brie’s hair was long again, perhaps from extensions, with a new sandy, ashy colour. Her foundation—which isn’t quite the right shade—is camouflaging some breakouts.
At the 2009 Showtime Winter TCA Party
Brie was more put-together for this United States of Tara event in 2009, at age 19. No, her makeup doesn’t have the polish that it has now, but she still looks really pretty... in a different way than before. Why? I’m going to venture a guess that she had the first tweak to her nose, and perhaps even her eyelids.
From 2010-2014: Seeking a Signature Style
At the 2010 London Premiere of ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. the World’
The red carpet struggle is real! For this event, Brie’s eyeliner and lipstick were on point, but she didn’t have the glossy hair and perfected skin finish that we’re used to with A-list celebs. She was also still dealing with some breakouts. As for her nose, the width hasn’t changed much, but the tip looks like it’s been refined.
At the 2011 Elle Women in Television Party
Then came this inexplicable wavy ‘do, with a frizzy texture and random straight and kinky pieces. I will say that I like the mint green eyeliner... just not with this hair. Her skin is perhaps a little clearer here, and her brows have grown out nicely after the ‘00s over-plucking.
At the 2012 Art of Elysium Heaven Gala
And then Brie became a redhead. It’s cute on her, although the styling is perhaps not the best (I’d have ditched the bedazzled headband, at least). With barely any foundation on, we can see how much her skin has cleared up. Maybe she grew out of it, or maybe she had a little help from medication or dermatologist procedures.
At the 2013 Los Angeles Premiere of ‘The World’s End’
Now, here’s the most au naturel look of all, when Brie was 23. Gone is the red hair, replaced by a natural light brown with blonder ends. And for once, there’s nothing contrived about her makeup. With dewy skin, flushed cheeks and a slick of mascara, she looks fresh and healthy.
At the 2014 Critics’ Choice Awards
It was around 2014 when I first took notice of Brie, and I can still remember commenting on her hair here. Just when she’d transitioned to a natural-looking colour, she added these streaky highlights—which often looked ashy and grey in different lighting. Also, the knots have returned from 2002.
From 2015-2018: The Hollywood Upgrade
At the 2015 Los Angeles Premiere of ‘Room’
In 2015, Brie seemingly began working with a styling team. It always happens—when celebs get cast in bigger movies, the studio has the budget for better hair and makeup people. Hence, her face is flawless, and she’s sporting an expensive “bronde” hair shade. But do I think this is the same nose she has today? Nope!
At the 2016 Oscars
For her Academy Award for Best Actress, Brie had never looked better. Compare this smooth hair and perfect makeup to her red carpet style a few years before. It’s a huge improvement! But I don’t think it’s just styling. I suspect she had a second procedure on her nose to make it even narrower.
At the 2017 Women in Film Pre-Oscar Cocktail Party
Whoomp, there it is! It’s Brie’s newest nose, after what I believe was a second rhinoplasty. It’s a baby nose now... and see how it makes her eyes and lips stand out more? If you also zone in on her eyelids, I think she had some of the excess skin removed (called a blepharoplasty) as well, or possibly even a brow lift.
At the 2017 Los Angeles Premiere of ‘Kong: Skull Island’
Here, she looks every inch the Hollywood star, with a face-framing retro wave, sophisticated makeup and a brighter smile (suggesting a little cosmetic dentistry work). But again, it’s her newly sculpted nose and eyelids that make the real difference versus her earlier red carpet appearances. (It’s normal for your nose look wider when you smile, but hers is still much narrower than before!)
At the 2018 Los Angeles Premiere of ‘Avengers: Infinity War’
By this time, Brie was 28, and she went even darker with her hair colour (or at least for the top half!). I have to say, I like the brunette on her a lot—it really makes her eyes pop. And it seems that she’s found her groove, beauty-wise, with this straight hairstyle and simple makeup.
From 2019-2021: Blonde Ambition
At the 2019 Los Angeles Premiere of ‘Captain Marvel’
But Brie is a woman who likes to change her hair colour, so then she switched things up and went bright blonde. I can’t say I’m a fan, although it helps that her roots and brows were kept darker. (Isn’t it amazing how well her brows have grown back?)
At the 2020 Oscars
And here’s Brie’s latest red carpet look, a sleek updo with minimal makeup. While I don't love the hair colour (it’s those 2014 highlights!), I do like how her makeup keeps getting subtler, a phenomenon I’ve observed many times with celebs. Is it their newly chiseled features that give them the confidence to be seen with less?
On Instagram in 2021
Without any red carpet appearances lately, we have to rely on Instagram for glimpses of Brie—like this shot, where she’s sporting a new mane of blonde, ‘70s-style waves. I swear, I thought this was Cat Deeley for a second! Looking at her eyelids, I actually suspect that she had a second blepharoplasty or brow lift done during quarantine. The area is flatter, with higher brows and even more lid space than before.
Brie Larson Before and After
Brie in 2003 vs 2017
I don’t know about you, but I think Brie’s before and after is one of the most surprising we’ve seen. She keeps such a low profile (and is basically the opposite of a Kardashian), so I never suspected this!
There’s no doubt that hair and makeup were responsible for a lot of these changes. We can all relate to her many styling faux-pas, and it’s strangely satisfying to see her blossom into the polished beauty she is today.
But it’s also very obvious that a rhinoplasty procedure (or two!) played no small part in this transformation. In addition, I suspect a blepharoplasty and/or brow lift, teeth whitening, porcelain veneers and some type of acne treatment. Who knows, there could even be a little Botox and filler happening too—although if there is, it’s extremely natural.
Brie looks beautiful, of course, but I couldn’t help but notice something she said in a 2015 interview with The Hollywood Reporter. Talking about all the rejection she faced early on in her career, she revealed, “I wasn’t pretty enough to play the popular girl, I wasn’t mousy enough to be the mousy girl, so I never fit in. And so I’d get close [to the end of the audition process], but I never got anywhere, and it was really painful.”
It’s no coincidence that her career took off after having these cosmetic procedures. That’s Hollywood for you... don’t hate the player, hate the game!