If you’ve ever mistaken Naya Rivera for Kim Kardashian, join the club. In recent years, the 33-year-old actress and singer (who is best known for playing cheerleader Santana Lopez on Glee) has started to resemble Kim so much, they could be related.
Besides sharing the same taste in makeup, hair and fashion, they even have similar features, like pillowy lips, plump cheeks, arched brows and long lashes.
But Naya didn’t always look so Kardashian-ified. Let’s examine her beauty transformation over the years, from 2004 until now.
From 2004: Naya as a Teen
At the 2004 Los Angeles Premiere of ‘Chasing Liberty’
In our first pic, Naya was only 16 years old—although she’d already been acting since age four. At the time, she had a prominent mole just below her lower lip, which she has since had removed. With her natural hair colour and no detectable makeup, she looks fresh-faced and pretty.
From 2009-2013: The ‘Glee’ Years
At the 2009 Los Angeles Premiere of ‘Bandslam’
Five years later, she returned to the red carpet after landing her breakthrough role on Glee. She was 22 here, and appears to have bleached her teeth and possibly darkened her hair to a solid black. Other than that, I don’t detect any changes to her features, which are adorned with only false lashes, black liner, sheer lip gloss and blush. It’s a far cry from her present-day red carpet style!
At the 2010 Emmys
As you can see from this 2010 red carpet appearance, Naya’s beauty vibe used to be a lot more playful and colourful. The oversized bun, headband, bangs and red lipstick are fun, but we’d never see her in these things now. Without heavy lashes, foundation or contouring, her makeup is flawless. And she has perfect teeth!
At PaleyFest 2011
To me, this is one of the most telling “before” photos. With no smile and her gaze facing straight at the camera, you can see just how different her original features look versus how they are now. For starters, she had very heavy-lidded eyes, thinner brows and naturally full cheeks. Her lips may or may not be enhanced, but they still look natural at this stage.
At the 2012 Fox Upfront Presentation
My favourite look of Naya’s has to be this one from 2012, where she matched her pink makeup to her outfit. How gorgeous does she look with her hair tied back, in this rosy blush, subtly shimmery lipstick and dark liner? Also, people would pay good money to have cheeks, lips and teeth like this—so I can’t imagine why anyone would tinker with them!
At the 2013 Los Angeles Premiere of ‘The Hangover Part III’
Her styling wasn’t quite as on point the next year, at age 26. Besides the heavy blush and frizzy hair, this is when she started getting into false lashes in a big way, choosing a spidery pair that extend almost to her brows! But I’m not sure that accounts for her different look in this photo. To me, it seems like her eyes get more wide-open from here on out, suggesting a possible procedure there.
From 2014-2016: Keeping Up with the Kardashians
At the 2014 Marie Claire Fresh Faces Party
It was in 2014 that Naya began to morph into Kim Kardashian 2.0. Other than her newly caramel-coloured hair, every feature takes inspiration from Kim’s signature style. There’s the long false lashes, arched brows, tightlined eyes, and of course, nude lips and heavy contouring. The latter is making her nose appear narrower, but I actually don’t detect any surgical changes there. It’s her eyes and lips (especially the top lip) that appear to be altered.
At the 2014 UNICEF Masquerade Ball
Later that year, she went back to black hair, but I doubt I’d have recognized her with this transformation. Yes, the eye makeup is a lot heavier than in the past, so maybe that’s part of it. But mostly, her face has taken on the artificial look of someone with a lot of fillers. Obviously, her lips are looking extra-plump. But I think something may have happened in the cheek area, too (despite her already having fullness there).
At the 2016 Race to Erase MS Gala
By 2016, Naya had the polished style of a red carpet pro, this time with a light brown hair colour. Again, it’s all very Kardashian-esque thanks to the straightened hair, neutral makeup palette, careful contouring and pillowy nude lips. (But don’t get me wrong, I think this makeup is really well-done!) Are you noticing how much narrower her face has become?!
At the 2016 Raising the Bar to End Parkinson’s Event
If you weren’t convinced before that anything had changed about Naya’s look, I think you will be now! Suddenly, her lips—and eyes—look bigger than ever, suggesting that she probably received injections, and maybe even a blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery). The only thing that looks natural here is her hair, which has been chopped to collarbone-length.
From 2017-2019: Brunette to Blonde and Back
At the 2017 Race to Erase MS Gala
Fortunately, Naya stepped out with a far more natural appearance the following year (so perhaps the injections “settled”). I think she looks great here! The long, straight black hair in a middle part is still very Kim K., but she’s eased up on all the shading and contouring. I just can’t help but notice a dramatic difference in her face shape (as well as her eyes) when I compare this photo to 2011.
At the 2019 Los Angeles Premiere of ‘The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part’
After nearly two years away from the red carpet, she returned in 2019 looking almost unrecognizable in blonde hair. I think this shade basically works with her skin tone, but it doesn’t make her skin glow like the darker hair does. We can also see evidence here that she probably hasn’t let up on the injections, at least in her lips.
At the 2019 Los Angeles Premiere of ‘Judy’
That brings us to Naya’s most recent red carpet appearance, and perhaps the most surprising of all! There’s a lot to unpack here, starting with a new set of bright white veneers. Recall that we haven’t seen her teeth since 2012, and they were already perfect—so I don’t understand the need for this change. Her lips and cheeks still seem to be filled, with the latter now so apple-like that they look extremely unnatural.
Naya Rivera Before and After
Naya in 2004 vs 2019
This is one Before & After where the photos really do speak for themselves. Naya in 2019 has little resemblance to Naya in 2004—so we can only guess that she underwent multiple cosmetic procedures to alter her look.
I think we can safely assume that, at minimum, she dabbled with hyaluronic acid fillers in her lips and cheeks. But that’s not all. Looking at her smile, it’s obvious that her teeth have been made over with what appear to be a set of oversized and bright white porcelain veneers. (In my opinion, they were totally unnecessary!)
Her eyes are also much more “open” than they were before, leading me to suspect that she may have undergone a blepharoplasty surgery to remove some of the excess skin from her upper eyelids.
Then, there’s the matter of her changing face shape and newly protruding, rounded cheeks. Could she have done something drastic, like facial liposuction or cheek implants? Maybe! Dr. Jason Emer believes “she has definitely had rhinoplasty and filler through the cheeks and lips. She may have implants in her cheeks, too.”
Rhinoplasty? Implants? Well, we know that Naya is no stranger to plastic surgery. In her 2016 memoir, Sorry Not Sorry: Dreams, Mistakes, and Growing Up, she revealed that she gifted herself breast implants for her 18th birthday, calling them the “the best $8K I’ve ever spent.” So it’s not hard to believe that she’d be game for undergoing more cosmetic enhancements, for her face!
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