“I’ve never had any plastic surgery,” says Katy Perry. “Not a nose, not a chin, not a cheek, not a tit. So my messages of self-empowerment are truly coming from an au naturel product.”
That was her claim in an interview with GQ in 2014. But it hasn’t stopped plastic surgery rumours from following the 36-year-old singer and American Idol judge to this day.
In recent years, her red carpet appearances have generated much speculation that her features have changed. (“All of my assets are real,” she countered in an interview with Refinery29.)
And then there’s her Instagram account, where in some photos, she is virtually unrecognizable. (Like this one—I could have sworn that was Lauren Conrad!)
So, is this a simple case of lighting, angles, and hair and makeup wizardry? Or could her current blonde hair be an attempt to distract us from more permanent cosmetic procedures?
Let’s take a look at Katy’s beauty evolution over the years to see if we can find out.
From 2000: Katy as a Teen
As a High School Student
Our first pic dates back to 2000, when Katy was a 15-year-old high school student. As you can see, blonde hair isn’t exactly new for her—although even here, it came from a bottle. “I’m naturally the most boring dishwater squirrel brown,” she told Glamour. “So I’ve been playing with colours since I was 15.”
From 2004-2007: Before She Was Famous
At the 2004 Clive Davis American Music Awards Celebration
Four years later, she signed to her first record label, and started going by her stage name, Katy Perry, instead of her real name, Katy Hudson. As for the black hair, “the whole reason why I dyed my hair black, actually, was because when I was 15, I chopped it all off,” she explained to Vogue. “I had it bleached blonde like Madonna in Who’s That Girl, but it didn’t look right. So I bought a box of colour and went black and have never gone back.”
At the 2005 Launch of the Xbox Next Generation Console
Katy kept the same jet-black, shaggy mullet cut the following year, even though all the razored layers made her hair seem thinner than it really is. But I think the heavy blush may be the bigger issue here! In these early photos, we can see that she had a naturally thinner upper lip, and possibly a less angular nasal tip compared to now.
At the 2006 Lucky Magazine LA Shopping Guide Party
At 21, she leaned into her California roots—all sun-kissed skin, soft makeup and beachy, textured hair. You have to admit, she had a point about the black hair just looking right. Her complexion is also incredibly clear and glowy, and luckily, her brows have started growing back out. (Few escape the early ‘00s without some sort of over-tweezed brow situation!)
At a 2007 BCBG Max Azria Fashion Show
The first inklings of Katy’s “pin-up girl” persona started appearing in 2007, the year before she became a household name. The elements included cherry red lips, long lashes, darkened brows and of course, an oversized floral headpiece. But this was before she could command an A-list styling team, so it definitely lacks the polish of her later ensembles.
From 2008-2011: Pop Music Superstar
At the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards
Everything changed when her first single, “I Kissed a Girl,” hit the airwaves in 2008. She fully committed to the retro vibe, and the execution was a lot more refined. Think: bouncy curls, cutesy accessories (like the glittery barrette) and heavier, glam makeup. It also looks like her teeth were whitened and brightened.
At the 2009 Beautiful People Party
In 2009, a blunt bob and bangs gave Katy’s hair a fresh upgrade. She also stepped up the makeup with clever contouring, bold liner and more dramatic false lashes. Although you can’t really tell, this is when she began battling breakouts. “I got acne at the start of my career—it was a stressful time,” she later told Cosmopolitan.
At the 2010 MTV Movie Awards
Next, she developed a penchant for retro baby bangs, whether in black or this vibrant blue wig. Keep in mind, this was when Lady Gaga was wearing things like the “meat dress,” so Katy’s looks were relatively tame in comparison! Notice her skin—she became a spokesperson for Proactiv in 2010.
At the 2011 Grammys
By age 26, Katy was an old pro at walking the red carpet, and had evolved from her early pin-up looks into full-fledged Hollywood glamour. The two-toned glitter eyeshadow, pink lipstick and lush waves are eye-catching and fun... but her foundation was becoming ever more mask-like. As for her features, her nose started looking a little smaller during this era.
From 2011-2012: Hair Colour Chameleon
At the 2011 Change Begins Within Benefit Concert
Remember how pastel hair was all the rage in 2011? Katy got in on the trend with a short rose gold bob that looked fresh then and still does now. The matching makeup with tones of warm pink and shimmery gold is a radical departure from her usual colour palette. And dare I say it, her skin seems a lot smoother, too.
Rt the 2012 Roc Nation Pre-Grammy Brunch
The next year, Katy became even more experimental with her hair colour, starting with this vibrant Smurf-blue shade. And it’s not even a wig! With candy-pink lips and an even brighter pink dress, it’s a major colour statement.
At the 2012 NARM Artist of the Year Awards
Later that same year, she dabbled with purple dye, visible roots (another emerging hair trend) and long waves, thanks to the help of extensions. Along with the black clothing and berry lipstick, it marked a change in direction toward a darker, Gothic-inspired mood. But she wasn’t injecting her lips as of yet, since the top one still has its natural shape.
From 2013-2016: Single and Sophisticated
At the 2013 Grammys
But it wasn’t long before a newly-single Katy (after her divorce from Russell Brand) was back to her signature dark hair. Here, it’s styled long and loose, in '60s-inspired, Priscilla Presley-esque waves. For her, these false lashes, taupe smoky eyes and nude lips are downright understated. Later in 2013, she would become a face of CoverGirl.
At the 2014 MOCA 35th Anniversary Gala
Katy’s bob and bangs made a chic return in 2014, when she was 29 years old. Compare and contrast with 2009—everything is a lot more sophisticated now. Mauve-brown lips, bold winged liner and fluffy lashes complete the look. (It’s just her brow pencil that needs to be ashier!)
At the 2015 Change Begins Within Benefit Concert
Then, Katy stepped out with one of her most low-key hair and makeup looks to date. With her dark hair scraped back off her face in a high bun, luminous skin and a punch of matte lilac lipstick, she’s fresher and prettier than ever. (I think she’s wearing her own Kitty Purry lip shade!)
At the 2016 Los Angeles Premiere of ‘Office Christmas Party’
I don't know how I missed this at the time, but I did a double take when I saw this shot of Katy from 2016. Not because of her glowing skin, glossy lips or smoky eyes, which are all lovely. No, it’s the gold Nike swoosh affixed to her upper left canine. (Why though?!)
From 2017-2018: Goodbye, Long Hair
At the 2017 iHeartRadio Music Awards
The only hairstyle left to try was a short pixie crop, and that’s exactly what Katy went for in 2017. It wasn’t by choice, mind you. “I don’t know if you’ve ever dyed your hair blonde... but sometimes, your hair falls out when you go too blonde and that’s the way I handled it,” she revealed on Ellen. It happens! In another interview, she mentioned Scarlett Johansson’s short hair as her inspiration.
At the Stella McCartney Autumn 2018 Presentation
And just when you thought Katy might be growing her hair out... she gives us this! I can’t say I’m a fan of the purple eyeshadow and blue liner with ‘80s pink blush and red lipstick (which also landed on her chin). Maybe the heavy-handed aesthetic of fellow CoverGirl ambassador James Charles was influencing her? Oh, and there’s a new piece of tooth jewellery—a diamond on her right canine. Apparently that is a thing.
From 2019-2021: Blondes Have More Fun?
At the 2019 Los Angeles Premiere of ‘Carnival Row’
I think I speak for all of us when I say that this platinum blonde lob was a welcome change from the short hair. Since she was photographed with her pixie only a few months before this, it’s safe to assume that she got a little help from a wig or extensions. Despite the dry, orange-looking foundation, I love both the hair and the monochromatic pink makeup.
At the 2019 Baby2Baby Gala
For her last red carpet appearance before the pandemic hit, Katy rocked a high bun with dark roots. She’s also wearing more makeup than ever—even compared to her peak awards show years, circa 2010 to 2012! But if you look closely, underneath the lip liner, her upper lip is inflated and somewhat lopsided. It also appears that the natural hollows under her eyes have been filled in.
On Instagram in 2020
With red carpets on hiatus in 2020, our celebrity sightings were limited to Instagram. Would you have guessed this was Katy? I certainly wouldn’t have! This isn’t her own hair—notice the outline of her wig. But are these her own full lips? Maybe, since she was expecting her first child with fiancé Orlando Bloom at the time. Or it could be residual filler in there from 2019!
On Instagram in 2021
That brings us to one of her recent beauty looks for Idol, which she’s now in the habit of showcasing on Instagram. With so much makeup—and probably a filter—I can’t detect any significant changes to her features. If anything, her upper lip is looking more realistic (thinner) now. She’s still rocking the dark roots and blonde hair, but this is definitely a clip-in hairpiece (her real hair is only about shoulder-length).
Katy Perry Before and After
Katy in 2004 vs 2019
Usually, I find the photo evidence in these Before & Afters quite clear cut, but not in this case. Comparing the photos of Katy Perry before fame versus now, it’s a tough call!
To me, the tip of her nose does seem more chiseled now, her upper lip more full, and her under-eyes and cheeks more plump. But you could definitely make a case for angles, lighting, makeup tricks or normal aging, rather than a nose job or injectables.
So far, the only enhancements she has admitted to are non-surgical. “I’ve done lasers and got [filler] injections under my eyes for the hollowing, which I’d recommend for everyone who wants a solution for their dark circles,” she told Refinery29 in 2018.
But some plastic surgeons don’t believe that’s all she’s had done. “It appears that Katy’s nose is different now than it is in older photos. That would suggest to me she may have had rhinoplasty. In addition, [her] cheeks are also more sculpted now than they were,” Dr. Adam Schaffner told Radar Online.
Dr. Tijion Esho believes the changes were achieved with two types of injections: fillers and Botox. “Her face is now contoured with a more angular jaw and mid face,” he told the Daily Express. “This can be achieved by treating specific areas in the face... with precise injections of Juvederm dermal filler with a cannula.”
“Katy’s skin appears taught with an absence of lines, suggesting Botox use,” he continues. “There also has been a change in the shape of her lips, as well as an increase in volume. While this can be mimicked by makeup, when looking more closely I suspect that this may have been achieved using dermal fillers.”
Fair enough, but consider this. Katy has also said she believes “we’re getting away from that negative stigma about physical alterations.” So if she did go under the knife, wouldn’t she be open about it? I’d like to believe that she would!
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