You Won't Believe What Leighton Meester Looked Like Before GG

Photo: James Devaney/WireImage.
Leighton Meester might be known for making headbands cool again, but off the set of Gossip Girl, you won't find her wearing one. In fact, for someone who plays a character with such a distinctive beauty look, Meester herself is quite the opposite: fearlessly jumping from trend to trend with abandon.
The actress easily slips from icy blonde to deep brunette and back again — like it’s nothing at all. She rocks pastel shadows, bright lipsticks, power blush and, yes, even bangs. Her look is experimental, exciting, and always on trend. And she never gets stuck in a rut.
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Sure, we’ll always have a place for Blair Waldorf’s uptown beauty in our hearts. But if you ask us, it’s Leighton herself who continues to serve the best beauty inspo.
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Photo: Jeff Vespa Archive/WireImage.
2003

Though we would later come to associate Leighton with signature looks of her Gossip Girl character (flowing, chestnut hair secured with a headband), the actress had a different vibe back in 2003. Here, she channels West Coast chill, with hair worn in loose, crimped waves and minimal makeup, punctuated by rose-colored lipstick and a touch of lilac eyeshadow
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Photo: Lee Celano/WireImage.
2004

Just one year later, 18-year old Leighton looks more grown up, thanks in part to a warm, honey blonde lob with long layers.
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Photo: Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage.
2006

Um, Serena is that you? In the spring of 2006, the actress embraces her future co-star's beachy, Cali-girl look, thanks to a bronzed complexion, defined lashes, and long, blonde hair.
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Photo: Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic.
2006

The actress, this time seen with auburn locks, pairs a timeless classic (satin red lips) with a very on-trend makeup look in 2006: ultralight concealer worn around the eyes.
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Photo: Michael Caulfield Archive/WireImage.
2006

Between the icy-blonde hair and barely-there makeup, we barely recognized Leighton in this 2006 photo. One thing we’re sure of: The actress has got glowy skin on lock.
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Photo: Stephen Lovekin/WireImage.
2007

Darker locks signal a start to the Gossip Girl era for the actress, with a layered haircut that gives her loose curls a bit of edge.
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Photo: James Devaney/WireImage.
2007

Ah, there it is. Seen here on set as the impeccably-coiffed Blair Waldorf, the actress gives us the kind of hair (and headband goals) that we would chase for years.
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Photo: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images.
2008

Wearing winged liner with pink lipstick is one way to signal the ‘60s. But Leighton keeps the combo fresh by trading a heavily-lined lid for a kitten flick and swapping pale skin for bronze cheeks.
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Photo: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images.
2008

Nude, glossy lips and a subtle cat eye accented with white shadow give a slightly retro feel without going full throwback.
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Photo: NEIL RASMUS/Patrick McMullan/Getty Images.
2008

This minimal beauty look might just be our favorite of the bunch. When you have flawless, dewy skin like this, there’s little need for much else.
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Photo: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images.
2009

Heavy fringe and bronze eyeshadow perfectly compliment the actress’ metallic sequined dress.
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Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images.
2009

Historically, the MTV Movie Awards have been a perfect occasion for celebs to try oddball beauty trends. But we love that Leighton went in another direction at the 18th annual affair, choosing to wear an evergreen beauty look: smoky eyes paired with nude lips and a simple updo.
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Photo: Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage.
2009

Many of us first knew Leighton as an actress. But the woman is an accomplished singer as well. This rock-inspired look (complete with smudgy, exaggerated cat eyes and a wild mane) looks right at home at the MTV Music Awards.
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Photo: Frank Trapper/Corbis/Getty Images.
2010

The Country Strong actress may have worn this pinky-red lipstick nearly a decade ago, but we’re still dying to know the exact shade.
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Photo: Valerie Macon/Getty Images.
2011

Coupling pin-straight hair with eyes precisely tightlined in black can result in a severe look. Here, the actress softens the effect by parting hair just left of center and adding hints of blue eyeshadow.
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Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage.
2011

Thanks to this throwback from 2011, in which the star wears ultra-long, bronde ombré locks, we’re suddenly thinking about trying extensions again.
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Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic.
2012

This monochromatic makeup look shows that shades of orange do wonders to brighten up eyes, cheeks, and lips.
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Photo: Antonio de Moraes Barros Filho/WireImage.
2013

The next time someone tells you not to match your lipstick to your outfit, flash this picture of Leighton Meester and prove ‘em wrong.
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Photo: Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic.
2014

Did anyone else just notice that Meester still looks 18 — 10 years later? A swipe of mascara and touch of gloss gives her glowing skin added radiance.
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Photo: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic.
2014

Matte red lipstick, hair pulled back, and smoky eyes prove a winning combo for the Life Partners actress in 2014.
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Photo: Tibrina Hobson/WireImage.
2015

If this picture doesn’t get you digging in the recesses of your makeup drawer for lip gloss, we don’t know what will.
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Photo: Jerod Harris/WireImage.
2016

There’s a lot to love about the actress’s look in this picture: fuller eyebrows, for one, brassy eyeshadow on the bottom lids for two, and a confident smile, which seals the deal.
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Photo: Allen Berezovsky/WireImage.
2017

For a modern spin on old-Hollywood beauty, the actress wears bright pink lipstick and classic S-waves. (And look: She's back to blond!)
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