Our favorite young actors all have to grow up at some point, and while some find growing up to be a downward spiral, others shock the world with a glamorous glow-up. Once chubby-cheeked, choker-wearing child stars, these actors went through major transformations — and a few are barely recognizable now!
We will say that quite a few stars who started on Disney Channel have gone from caterpillars to butterflies — and just so happen to be some of the hottest people on the planet right now.
Whether it was mother nature or a new wardrobe and haircut, these celebs went from awkward, gawky children and tweens to stunning adults. It also makes us question why the ~puberty gods~ didn’t bless us this much? Life is cruel; we’ll get over it.
16. Kristen Stewart
Before she became the most popular vampire bride, Kristen Stewart started out acting young. At the tender age of 11, she starred in The Safety of Objects, and from there began building her career in acting with Panic Room, Cold Creek Manor and Speak. Her mousy brown hair and baggy clothes weren’t necessarily a bad thing back in the day, but getting a bleached pixie cut and spicing up her closet was a crazy smart move. She’s starred in ads for Chanel, walked the red carpet in haute couture, and pulled off some makeup trends that didn’t really seem pull off-able tbh. She looks damn good.
15. Candace Cameron-Bure
This Full House sweetheart was pretty as a teen, and from the moment she began on Full House, she had quite the acting talent too. Following her older brother, Kirk Cameron, Candace got into acting at six years old, though she wasn’t cast in the family sitcom until she was 11. Definitely a bit of an awkward tween when the show started, we got to see Candace’s glow-up during the show’s eight seasons. The actress is now 41 and doesn’t look a day over 30. We’re digging her chestnut brown bob and the elegant, classy wardrobe she’s rocked throughout the years. She’s published three books now and now is back to playing DJ Tanner on Fuller House. Things really have come full-circle!
14. Nolan Gould
Nolan is best known for playing Luke Dunphy on Modern Family, the adorable, pesky little brother. But he’s not so little anymore. If you just started getting into this show (shame on you), you probably wouldn’t recognize him if you went back to watch the first season. He’s literally glown-up before our eyes. Despite his goofy tendencies in the show, in reality, it’s unreal how smart this guy is. He’s a part of Mensa, which is a society for people with highest IQ. He graduated high school at 13 and plays several instruments. We’ve got a child prodigy on our hands, people.
13. Brandon Mychal Smith
Is that you Li’l Danny Dawkins? This Phil of the Future and Sonny With a Chance star definitely isn’t as dorky as his younger characters used to be. Brandon started acting at eight and starred in commercials for companies like Nike. He also had a short stint of rapping and working on music, and a short stint of being a wholesome former Disney celeb. Then he was arrested for a DUI last summer, which seems like par for the course these days for child stars. Growing up did him so-so, legally, growing up definitely did him good looks-wise. I mean just take a scroll through his Insta… you’re welcome.
12. Ashley Tisdale
Yeah, Sharpay Evans was hella chic in High School Musical and we all wanted her outfits and fancy rich people things. But Ashley Tisdale is older now and has accomplished some pretty rad things. She’s starred in over 100 advertisements, and she and her sister are currently working on a comedy for CBS. She has a makeup line called Illuminate Cosmetics and her shimmery highlighter might put Kim K’s contour kits to shame. She’s also voiced her support for the Time’s Up movement, and that makes us love her even more.
11. Jonathan Lipnicki
That little kid who starred in movies like Stuart Little and Jerry Maguire was too adorable for his own good. Now Jonathan Lipnicki is all grown up. He’s 27, to be exact (now do you feel old?). He seems like a genuinely sweet person and even opened up on Instagram about his depression, anxiety, and bullying he suffered growing up. He’s been producing shows and spitting verses… well, at least for the show Drop the Mic. He’s also clearly been working on his beach bod, peep his Insta. He’s a classic example of a child star glow up, but he’s a little too lucky. He went from an insanely cute kid to a major hottie.
10. Zendaya Coleman
Rocky Blue from Shake It Up was darling from the start, but now she’s an absolute stunner and a social activist. Her recent role in The Greatest Showman was a lovely leap into the acting career of her adult life. She’s now 21 and has already established her own clothing line, become an ambassador for a non-profit, and written a book. Her website also features a host of posts and videos about everything from makeup and fashion to food and activism. She’s one celeb who glowed up in more than just looks but has developed one glowin’ luminous personality, too.
9. Bella Thorne
We’re not sure if Bella Thorne’s glow-up is good news or bad news. She had some gigs in her early years, but her big break came from playing CeCe in the Disney Channel show Shake It Up. While she used to be an innocent, sugary-sweet star, she now flaunts her stuff in candy cane lingerie on her Insta.
She looks amazing, definitely, but we do have to say we’re a bit worried about some of her personal choices. Dating a playboy twice her age Scott Disick, dating YouTuber/accused rapist Sam Pepper, and making insensitive comments about natural disasters on social media, Bella Thorne is almost better known for being problematic than her actual work since the Disney days. Let’s just hope she gets her act together ASAP.
8. Nick Jonas
He certainly is “Burnin’ Up” now. Sorry, had to. Like a fine wine, Nick Jonas has gotten better, much better, with age. We lost our minds when the Jonas Brothers had their debut, and we’re still losing our minds over Nick’s solo career. He’s gone from a typical kid chatting about his diabetes to a guy with a killer smolder singing about sex! It’s not just his looks that have matured in the past few years. His career has become super versatile — when he’s not working on music, he’s starring in film and television shows like Jumanji, Scream Queens, and others.
7. Josh Peck
How is this Josh even the same person? The funny, husky-half of Drake & Josh has certainly glowed up like no other. Josh Peck’s days of being the “other” brother are over, and he and his pearly whites have slipped their way into the limelight. He’s hot and still really stinkin’ funny. His comedic skills have graced YouTube for quite a while now, and he releases videos every Wednesday doing something weird like wearing a Santa costume or doing ridiculous challenges. Sadly, he’s taken now (married, actually), but we’re happy for him. His wife seems just as cool as he is.
6. Madison De La Garza
Remember Juanita, Gabrielle’s daughter in Desperate Housewives?! Well, there are a few things you probably don’t know about the girl who played Juanita. One, she’s actually Demi Lovato‘s little sister. (Yes, really!) Two, she has really glown up like no other. In 2014, she had a main role on CBS’ Bad Teacher. This year, she was in a documentary called Simply Complicated, and also voiced Tiffany/Chelsea in Gnome Alone. Back in the day though, she once played a younger-version of Demi’s character in Sonny with a Chance. #DisneyFacts
5. Ryan Gosling
Ryan Gosling has made ladies swoon since the beginning of time (seriously tho). But it’s funny how a quick Google search will show that our Canadian romance movie bae started out as a weird little kid starring alongside the weird, little-kid version of Justin Timberlake on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. After glowing up, he began playing the man of our dreams and relationship nightmares (ahem Blue Valentine). Also, odd little fact: he’s a part of a band called Dead Man’s Bones and owns part of a Moroccan food restaurant. A man of many talents. We also can’t handle how hot he and his baby mama Eva Mendes are. Luckily for us, they almost never make public appearances, or we would probably die from just one glance.
4. Kevin Schmidt
You know the chunky, clarinet-playing kid from Cheaper by the Dozen? Well, this is him now, and no, we can’t believe it either. He glowed up from his days starring alongside Steve Martin, but you maybe didn’t realize he also was in Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez‘s The Princess Protection Program. Kevin Schmidt is currently busy starring in the dramedy Love, and, according to his social media, being the baby-daddy of the cutest pig named Yuma – who also has her own Instagram account. On top of this, he founded the Conscious Human Initiative, an organization that brings awareness and relief to those suffering from malnutrition and hunger. *swoon*
3. Taylor Momsen
Taylor Momsen is one multi-faceted woman. She has the power to do it all basically. From the tiny, baby age of two, she started modeling (something she’s never been happy with according to an interview with Bethesda Magazine). She started acting and played roles like Cindy Lou Who in How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Jenny Humphrey on Gossip Girl. But the innocent, bright-eyed Cindy and ultra preppy Jenny are the polar opposites of her grunge-chic musical side. She’s the frontwoman of the band The Pretty Reckless and has glowed up from her baby days of acting and modeling to one badass rocker chick that we’re pretty jealous of.
2. Emma Watson
Okay, major glow up alert. The frizzy-haired Hermione from Harry Potter became the super stunning, mega powerful, Emma Watson that we know today and we’re impressed. She’s revamped her style and rocks baby bangs and a short pixie like no other. Her list of accomplishments will no doubt make you wonder what you’re doing with your life. She graduated from Brown University and went on to become the UN Goodwill ambassador and started a campaign for equal pay for all genders. She’s the whole dang package, and we’re curious if she’d be willing to give lessons on being the absolute best?
1. Cole and Dylan Sprouse
Dylan and Cole Sprouse both were adorkable as child stars, and honestly mini heartthrobs for pre-teens across the U.S. who were obsessed with The Suite Life. The magic of puberty hit and they were *blessed*. Cole and Dylan, nowadays, are just plain hot. It could’ve really gone either way during those awkward middle-years, but they came out on top. Their little blonde shag haircuts are no more, but Cole’s dark, messy swath of hair and Dylan’s long surfer locks have never been pulled off better by anyone else ever. The brothers have developed a snarky sense of humor, and their acting talent has come a long way. Cole is starring in the cult fave Riverdale on The CW and Dylan is opening up his own bar and starring in moody indie films. No matter what they’re doing now, we have to say their glow-up went from a one to ten reeeaaal quick.