The celebrity chameleons: Why DO stars like Amber Heard look different every time you see them?

Why DO stars like Amber Heard look different every time you see them? Experts reveal how ‘celebrity chameleons’ with oval faces pull off a constantly changing appearance

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From the red carpet blonde bombshell with razor sharp cheekbones, to homely Southern girl next door to a rather ordinary, albeit well-groomed mother during her court appearances, Amber Heard has a chameleon-like quality that means she has a tendency to look different every time you see her. 

Photos taken over long periods of time will naturally show normal changes associated with ageing or changes in weight, not to mention the impact of aesthetic treatments, but some stars just seem to have a changing face even in pictures taken within a smaller timeframe. And sometimes it’s not easy to pinpoint what has changed.  

Dr Raj Arora, an aesthetic doctor at the Face Bible, said an individual’s face shape can be a factor, noting that oval faces often lend themselves more easily to divergent looks.

She told FEMAIL: ‘Face shapes play a key role in how one may appear, bringing character and definition to the face. 

‘Oval faces are generally the most versatile because of their natural symmetry and balance. Oval faces can practically pull off any hairstyle, haircut or makeup look with ease.’

Actor Amber Heard, pictured here at the 2011 premiere of The Rum Diary, has a classical Hollywood look
Meanwhile, this 16 April 2015 image, taken at the Tribeca Film Festival  shows the star looking almost unrecognisable
A photo taken just two days later, at the same film festival shows the actor showing off a dramatically different look
Snapped just a month later, this May 2015 photo shows Amber showing off her chameleon-like versatility once more

While Amber Heard’s appearance over the years has naturally changed as she’s grown older, she often looks extremely different, even in photos taken during similar timeframes

In October 2015, the star showed off another look, this time donning darker hair and natural make-up
Still wearing her trademark red lip in 2019, Amber's look appeared different once more
This snap, taken during the star's court case against ex-husband Johnny Depp shows the star's looks have change
However, in another image taken just days' apart, she shows off her chameleon-like qualities

Amber Heard often looks vastly different in photos, even in images  that have been taken within a similar timeframe. According to experts, there may be various factors at play

However, she added that oval faces are not typically thought to be ‘striking’, unlike the chiselled face shape look, which could explain some individuals’ facial changes, as they try to achieve a more striking chiselled look.

Dr Arora said: ‘A lot of individuals seek non-invasive aesthetic treatments to achieve sculpted cheekbones, fuller lips, and a tight jawline.’ 

And, she added, certain treatments can create dramatic changes to a person’s look very quickly.

‘Dermal filler injectables placed strategically to sculpt and define the face can change a person’s look in a matter of days,’ she said.

‘Anti-wrinkle injections are also a popular treatment to help lift the brows and open up the eye area – leaving the impression of a wider eyed, sculpted individual.’  

Dr Dean Rhobaye, an expert in aesthetics and face mapping with a private clinical practice in London’s Harley Street, said there are many factors that can contribute to celebrities looking vastly different in images.

One of those factors is makeup: Dr Rhobaye suggests there may be some people who are able to create more dramatically different looks using cosmetics, suggesting that those with less distinct features may be able to ‘manipulate the way they look’ more effectively with make-up. 

But can cosmetics really be responsible for the dramatic changes seen in some images? Make-up artist Suzie O’Neill, owner of Ayu Cosmetics, told FEMAIL they can. 

She said: ‘There is no denying that make up can completely alter how someone looks just by shading and highlighting certain areas of the face.’

She added that celebrities are ‘renowned for using makeup to change their appearance and experiment with new looks’. 

According to Suzy, there are multiple tricks and techniques that can be used to create significant changes, including using shading. For example, she explains, shading alongside the bridge of the nose, starting from the inner brows, then highlighting the centre of the nose

Meanwhile Kayleigh O’Donovan, a make-up artist who owns House of Vanity salon in Manchester, agreed that these dramatically different looks could have been achieved through the careful application of cosmetics.

She told FEMAIL: ‘Makeup can be used to enhance features and when applied in certain ways has the ability to make a certain facial feature stand out or lessen. 

‘Makeup placement using techniques such as contouring and highlighting correctly can create the illusion of stronger cheekbones, facial slimming or widening, different shape of nose or lips, hooded eyes can appear more lifted for example. The beauty of makeup is that it can be tailored to the individual.’ 

She added that choosing a look that is suitable for an individual’s natural features means the techniques required to create dramatic changes will work effectively.

And it seems that some faces may be more easily manipulated when it comes to creating these different looks through cosmetics.

Actor Kristen Stewart shows the difference lighting can have on your look in this 2021 image
The actor is photographed virtually attending a Chanel fashion show in October 2020
The star looks drastically different in this photo from 2020, due to the studio lights and lighter make-up
Opting for a natural look in 2020, Kristen shows the dramatic difference make-up can make to her look

According to Dr Rhobaye, small changes, like make-up, camera lenses, and lighting can make celebrities, like Kristen Stewart (pictured) look drastically different in different images

Kirsten Stewart, pictured at the October 2021 premiere of Spencer
Shared in April 2022, this photograph shows the star wearing an elegant make-up look
This March 2022 snap shows Kristen showing off a chic make-up look - showcasing her versatile looks
Meanwhile, this photo taken in January 2022 shows the actor looking  different again

Kristen Stewart is another chameleonic actor, often looking different in images, as she plays with a wide range of looks and styles when it comes to makeup, hair, and clothing

Dr Hakan Gundogan, a plastic surgeon working at the Clinic Centre in London, agrees that significant differences in the way some celebrities look in photos taken just days apart will sometimes be down to certain treatments.  

He told FEMAIL: ‘There are some non-surgical procedures that are very subtle but still make a great difference in the face. These procedures are very popular and widely preferred by many, not just celebrities. 

‘The most common type of non-surgical procedure is fillers. Apart from lip-fillers, which have been around for a very long time, other types of fillers have emerged in the last years. 

‘Among these are brow fillers, nose fillers, jaw fillers, chin fillers etc. Brow fillers help raise the eyebrows to achieve a more relaxed and fresh look around the eyes. Sunken eyes can cause a sleepy and aged look. 

Nina Dobrev at Cinema Against AIDS in Cannes in 2012
At the 28th annual amfAR Gala in Cannes last week
A candid selfie shared on Instagram earier this year
At FOX's Teen Choice Awards 2018

The Vampire Diaries star Nina Dobrev, 33, has a whole range of looks, from red carpet bombshell to girl next door 

A candid selfie of Nina Dobrev shared to Instagram
At the amfAR Cannes Gala 2019 in Cannes
Sharing a makeup-free selfie at home
At the Once Upon A Time In Hollywood After Party in Cannes in 2019

Nina’s appearance appears to change slightly in every picture, whether she’d glammed up for the red carpet or posing for a candid selfie at home 

‘Jaw and chin fillers make the chin area look longer, which naturally affects the whole face. The best part about fillers is that they do not require any cuts and are not considered surgeries.’

According to the doctor, even the ‘smallest amount of filler can make a difference in the shape of the area’. 

He explained: ‘For example, nose fillers can raise the tip of the nose, making it appear smaller and more suitable for the face.’

Dr Gundogan believes that the differences we see in celebrity faces may therefore sometimes be down to subtle, nonsurgical tweaks, that change the appearance, without being obvious.  

‘Some celebrities probably get a few fillers done the day before their events so their face looks its best combined with professional lighting and make-up,’ he said, adding that this may be going on in some of these images.

However, for Dr Dean Rhobaye, there are other environmental factors that can affect how someone looks in a photos. In his opinion, the most significant is the cameras that is used. 

In Black Widow
In The Wonder
Interview with Sunday Times magazine
On a night out in LA

Meanwhile Little Women star Florence Pugh also has a whole range of looks, from blockbusters like Black Widow to heading on a night out in LA

In November 2021
At the BAFTAs in March 2022
Getting her nose pierced
In March 2022

The star plays with a wide range of different hairstyles and looks, from short dark hair to lengthy blonde locks, as well as different makeup styles 

He told FEMAIL: ‘The focal length of the lens and whether there’s a wide or narrow angle lens [on the camera] will distort the facial proportions in different ways. This is a phenomenon called perspective distortion.’

He explained that the focal length of the camera lens can change how features of the face look, changing the ratios between features, and creating a different look between images.

In fact, he says, this aspect is so significant, he considers to be the ‘number one’ factor in how the proportions of the face appear in photos.

He says the second major factor when it comes to why people sometimes look so different in photos is lighting.   

‘People grossly underestimate the impact of lights and lights, which can have a huge impact the way you look,’ Dr Rhobaye explained.

‘Light can exaggerate. For example, overhead lighting can exaggerate shadows. 

‘And certain parts of the face will make you look older in the full sun. So that’s another big factor in the way people will look in images.’

The actor, pictured here in May 2021, has been pictured switching between those looks that are more classically elegant and those that look edgier
This 2018 photo shows Emilia sporting blonde locks and paler make-up, showing off her aesthetic versatility
Seen here at the Alexander McQueen SS22 Womenswear show in October 2021, the actor shows how different exterior lighting can make you look in photos
Snapped looking fresh faced back in 2020, the Game of Thrones actor shows off how versatile her look can be

Actor Emilia Clarke, who is best known for her leading role in Game of Thrones, as well as her classically beautiful appearance, often looks different in photos

Sporting a chic look back in October 2021, Emilia cuts a dramatically different looking figure than in many other images
This 2019 snap of the star sees her showing off a natural makeup looks with a coral lip
Snapped in February 2022, the actor looks remarkably different than in snaps taken just months earlier
Meanwhile, this 2013 snap of the star, taken at the Game of Thrones season 3 premiere, shows the star sporting her trademark natural look

Emilia Clarke, seen in these photos taken just weeks apart, shows just how dramatic a difference subtle changes like lighting and make-up can make to your look

 Overall, the doctor notes that these smaller factors all work in combination with each other, enhancing the difference different camera settings, light, and make-up can all make in terms of how someone’s facial shape and overall look may appear. 

Perhaps one of the more surprising reasons Dr Rhobaye gave to explain why some celebrities look so different in different photos is posture and posing.

‘A lot of celebrities, actresses and other media people go through training in terms of posture and positioning,’ he said.

‘And they’re actually taught on how to pose. If you look at them on a red carpet, you can see how they change the angle of their head…by changing your posture and angles, you can change the appearance of your profile or shape of your face.  

When it comes to longer term changes in appearances, Dr Rhobaye said certain facial structures – notably those with more prominent cheekbones – are more robust against ageing in terms of maintaining the face’s dimensions. 

However, he pointed out, these types of faces ‘tend to lose fat more readily’, whereas rounder facial shapes are less sensitive to volume loss. 

A final point Dr Rhobaye says is important to bear in mind is that many of the images we see nowadays have been manipulated and edited. 

‘We think that they’re natural,’ he said, ‘But they are often carefully planned and edited.’

May 05, 2022
Starring in Avengers in 2015
Elizabeth poses backstage  at the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on Wednesday, May 4, 202
Elizabeth attends Marvel Studios' "Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness" premiere at Dolby Theatre on May 02, 2022

Elizabeth Olsen is another actress who can seemingly act as a chameleon across red carpets, films and talk shows 

Elizabeth attend "Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness" photocall in Trafalgar Square on April 26, 2022
Film: Silent House (2011), with Elizabeth Olsenas Sarah.
Elizabeth attends the Filming Italy Festival at Forte Village Resort on July 22, 202
Elizabeth Olsen in April 2022

Dr Rhobaye explained how some some celebrities look so different in different photos due to posture and posing

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