We all know that Gwyneth Paltrow is obsessed with wellness, natural ingredients and a “clean” lifestyle. But when it comes to her own appearance, she takes a different—and seemingly contradictory—approach.
“I’ve probably tried everything,” she told Harper’s Bazaar back in 2013, when she was only 40 years old. “I would be scared to go under the knife, but you know, talk to me when I’m 50. I’ll try anything. Except I won’t do Botox again, because I looked crazy. I looked like Joan Rivers!”
Now 48, the actress-turned-entrepreneur has admitted to using lasers, Thermage skin tightening, chemical peels and microdermabrasion to maintain her good looks (along with her Goop line of skincare products, of course). She’s even found a “purified” alternative to Botox, called Xeomin, for which she recently became a spokesperson.
But going under the knife? If the photos below are any indication, she’s actually no stranger to plastic surgery—and likely underwent at least one procedure earlier on in her career.
Here’s how Gwyneth’s look has changed over more than two decades in the public eye.
From 1989: Gwyneth as a Teen
As a High School Student
Our first photo was taken when Gwyneth was still in high school, so she would have been just 16 or 17 here. (And this same year, she had her first acting gig in a TV movie called High.) From this pic, we can tell that she’s not a natural blonde... and this was her original nose.
From 1996-1998: Ingenue and Style Icon
At the 1996 New York City Premiere of ‘Emma’
Fast-forward to age 23, and she’d landed her first major film role, as the star of Emma. With newly blonde hair and glam makeup, she looked every bit the young ‘90s starlet. (I’m especially into this high bun with long tendrils behind the ears—they don’t do updos like this anymore!) Also notice the dilated pupils... her lifestyle probably wasn’t as “non-toxic” back then!
At the 1997 New York City Premiere of ‘The Devil's Own’
The following year, she achieved peak ‘90s style with this side-parted pixie cut—which would become one of the most iconic hairstyles of the decade. (It also didn’t hurt that her then-boyfriend Brad Pitt had the exact same ‘do!)
At the 1998 Los Angeles Premiere of ‘Great Expectations’
But that was Gwyneth’s one and only experiment with short hair, as she soon grew it out into this little bob (worn with mini bobby pins, another trend of the era, to pull back her bangs). As for her facial features, I think she was still au naturel at this stage, and would remain so for a few more years.
From 1999-2002: On Top of the A-List
At the 1999 Oscars
By 1999, she officially landed on the A-list when she won an Academy Award for Shakespeare in Love. And who could forget what she wore to receive it? In a bubblegum-pink gown, diamonds and a sleek updo, she looked like she was on her way to the prom—not the Oscars!
At the 2000 Golden Globes
For her 2000 role in Bounce, Gwyneth’s style reversed course. Although these tones wash her out, the chocolate brown hair, berry lips and gold eyeshadow were just the antidote for the overly sweet, princess vibes of the previous year.
At the 2001 New York City Premiere of ‘Shallow Hal’
But just in case you thought she was the epitome of ‘90s and ‘00s cool, here’s evidence of at least one beauty faux pas. This is way too much blush, in the wrong colour, no matter what the decade! (I actually had to check that this was indeed Gwyneth—I never would’ve recognized her.)
At the 2002 Oscars
“I should have worn a bra and I should have just had simple beachy hair and less makeup,” she wrote about this edgy red carpet look (which was met with much criticism at the time). I don’t know about the bra, but I actually quite like the braided updo, darker blonde hair colour and contrast of smoky eyes with foundation-free skin.
From 2003-2007: Marriage and Motherhood
At the 2003 Music Has Power Awards
Clearly, she was enjoying the Goth-inspired fashion of the early 2000s, because she went even more dramatic for her next red carpet outing. (This was only a few days before she tied the knot with Chris Martin.) The long, spidery false lashes and blackberry lips are definitely off-brand. Also take note of her nose. Compared to 1989, it looks unchanged to me... but not for long!
At the 2004 Los Angeles Premiere of ‘Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow’
It was in 2004 (after giving birth to her daughter, Apple) that she began to embrace the fresh-faced, all-American look that we still identify her with to this day. Case in point: this loose, wavy updo, brighter blonde hair colour and sun-kissed natural makeup. I think it’s from here on that you’ll start to notice some possible refinements to her nose.
At the 2005 New York City Premiere of ‘Proof’
In between pregnancies, Gwyneth let her roots grow in and rocked a darker, more natural-looking blonde in a long, half-back style. It’s so flattering, I can’t help but wish she’d go back to this shade rather than the artificial-looking light blonde that she embraced later on.
At the 2006 Launch of the Estée Lauder Pleasures by Gwyneth Paltrow Collection
Her next beauty move was this Barbie-esque yellow tone, worn long and super-straight, with a part down the middle. It’s the kind of high-maintenance hair that you typically only see on celebs—and it just so happens to coincide with what appears to be a smaller-looking nose. Could the radical hair change be her way of distracting us from noticing?!
At the 2007 Vanity Fair Oscar Party
She kept basically the same hairstyle through 2007, only switching up the part and toning down the yellow for a softer colour. By this time, she was 34, and still looking really natural. From what I can tell, there’s nothing in her lips or cheeks, and we can see some faint lines on her forehead, which she’s had since her 20s.
From 2008-2009: Leading the “Lob” Trend
At the 2008 Launch Event for ‘Spain: On the Road Again’
If you recall, 2008 was the year of the lob (long bob), and Gwyneth’s blunt, straight, collarbone-grazing cut was one of the most sought-after. You know what else debuted that same year? Her website, which began as a weekly email newsletter dispensing travel tips, healthy recipes and shopping recommendations.
At the 2009 Champions of Hope Benefit Gala
Other than some loose waves, not much changed with her hair and makeup the following year. But if you’ve been paying close attention, you may have noticed that the flesh-coloured mole she used to have on her forehead has suddenly disappeared. Plus, even though she is smiling, her nose isn’t nearly as wide as it used to be (like back in 2001, for example).
From 2010-2013: Botox Gone Wrong?
At the 2010 Los Angeles Premiere of ‘Country Strong’
Here’s the time period Gwyneth was likely referring to when she tried Botox and “looked like Joan Rivers!” I’m certain she used it to smooth out her forehead and crow’s feet, and there’s now an odd tightness around her mouth. “When I turned 40, I had like a mid-life crisis and got anti-wrinkle injections all over my face, and it was awful,” she told Refinery29. “I looked horrible—one eye was actually like higher than the other—and it was definitely a big mistake, though luckily a temporary one.”
At the 2011 Emmys
I’m not convinced that she stopped using injectables right away, because her forehead still looks as tight as a drum here. There also appears to be more volume in her upper cheeks, suggesting the use of fillers. Meanwhile, it’s the first time we’re seeing her teeth since 2001, and they’ve now been whitened and brightened.
At the 2012 Oscars
“I’ll take my wrinkles. I don’t like the Botox thing,” Gwyneth proclaimed in the March 2012 issue of Harper’s Bazaar. But she was still accused of looking “frozen” at the Oscars that same year. “She was pulled in all the wrong places and looked very unnatural,” an eyewitness told Radar Online. “It appeared that she could barely move her face to talk to the reporters.”
From 2013-2016: A More Natural Look
At the 2013 Los Angeles Premiere of ‘Thanks for Sharing’
We rarely see her in red lipstick, so this look—with more dramatic lashes as well—is a fun change of pace. (Wisely, she has so far left her naturally thin lips alone, rather than pumping them up with fillers!)
At the 2014 Stand Up to Cancer Telecast
“I still tan without sunscreen, which is really, totally fucked up,” Gwyneth once told Glamour. I think we’re seeing some evidence of that at this end-of-summer event (she was 41 at this point). Skin texture aside, it looks like she did indeed quit the Botox, although I suspect she was still adding volume to her cheeks with fillers.
At the 2015 Los Angeles Premiere of ‘Mortdecai’
Her skin still looks a little red and textured in this shot, which may be from the sun damage—or a sign that she underwent a laser resurfacing procedure. Even still, I love this look, what with the Boho earrings, darker blonde hair and natural makeup. Besides her cheeks, I suspect she might’ve added a tiny bit of filler to her lips.
At the 2016 LACMA Art+Film Gala
If Gwyneth looks overly serious here, it might be because this was taken shortly after her divorce—er, “conscious uncoupling”—from Chris Martin was finalized. Also allow me to draw your attention to her nose once more. This particular photo clearly shows that she had some refinements done there.
From 2017-2021: Refreshed and Refined
At the 2017 Baby2Baby Gala
At age 45, perhaps battling some grey hair, she ditched her signature bright blonde in favour of this subtler, ashier colour (which would help to camouflage any regrowth). It’s hard to say for sure with the heavy eye makeup, but I’m also starting to wonder if she may have tweaked her eye area. Her brows seem lower now, with less lid space.
At the 2018 World Premiere of ‘Avengers: Infinity War’
In 2018, she married second husband Brad Falchuk, and the rumours of more cosmetic work started up again. “She’s clearly had a bunch of procedures—if not a full face-lift,” one wedding guest told Radar Online. I don’t know about that, but she does look remarkably fresh here!
At the 2019 World Premiere of ‘Avengers: Endgame’
Next, she went back to her favourite bright blonde... but that’s not the only thing that’s different. If you noticed that her fine lines looked a little softer, and her eyebrows a little more arched, you’re not alone. We know that she was getting Xeomin injections prior to formally representing them, and I believe that’s what’s going on here.
At the 2020 Grand Opening of the JVP Cyber Center
That brings us to Gwyneth’s most recent public appearance, and now I think she’s actually aging backwards. Maybe it’s the lighting, maybe it’s a new procedure, or maybe it’s one of her Goop supplements... whatever it is, she is glowing from within!
On Instagram in 2021
So far in 2021, we’ve had to get our Gwyneth fix from Instagram instead of the red carpet. Here, she is looking remarkably natural, showing off her real skin texture sans filters (which celebs normally use to blur out pores and wrinkles). But I do suspect she may have had a little procedure during quarantine. Look at her eyelids, and how much higher her brows are now!
Gwyneth Paltrow Before and After
Gwyneth in 1989 vs 2016
When a celebrity is always in the public eye, like Gwyneth, it can be hard to detect the gradual cosmetic tweaks. But if you compare how she looked before fame versus now, there’s obviously been some work done over the years, in addition to the normal aging process.
Like I said, she’s been open about using Botox and Xeomin injections to soften wrinkles, plus Thermage for skin tightening and various resurfacing procedures (like peels and microdermabrasion).
“Additionally, she appears to have gotten hyaluronic acid [fillers] in her nasolabial folds and in her tear troughs under her eyes,” says Dr. Susan Evans. “She also appears to have had lip Juvederm injections,” adds Dr. Zara Harutyunyan.
But Dr. John Di Saia believes that she also went under the knife (despite her suggestions that she hadn’t yet done so). “We see that Gwyneth has seen her share of quality knife work if we take a peek at some old images,” he explained in a since-deleted blog post. “Nasal tips do not get thinner as we age without some help. Gwyneth’s eyelids and mid-face look a bit improved as well... very nicely of course. So the assessment here is at least a nose job and eyelids with a possible mid-face lift as well.”
So far, she’s not talking about it on Goop—so we’re only hearing about things like jade eggs and vagina steaming, rather than her plastic surgeries.
But as her profile in the New York Times made known, Gwyneth “only ever wanted to be someone who recommended things.” So maybe one day, she’ll reveal her secrets!
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