It’s a tough business, growing up. Now imagine doing it with the paparazzi watching your every move, and suddenly things like braces, glasses and acne become even more terrifying prospects. Still, these 20 celebs managed to kick puberty’s butt, shaking off their early awkward phases to turn into insanely hot adults who’ve definitely left their gawky childhood years behind – and all within the public eye.
40. Zac Efron
Before High School Musical, Zac Efron was a rather gawky child actor, starring in movies like Melinda’s World and Miracle Run. Still, it’s fair to say that in 2014 Efron finally shook off his Disney past by playing brawl-happy party animal Teddy Sanders in NSFW comedy Neighbors – and was definitely hot with it.
39. Emma Watson
Growing up is hard enough without having to go through the process in public. Harry Potter star Emma Watson, however, seems to have navigated her way through her child actress years with grace and elegance, transforming from being Hermione Granger to the British Fashion Awards’ 2014 British Style Award winner.
38. Josh Peck
Josh Peck has come a long way since he played chubby goofball Josh Nichols in Nickelodeon’s Drake & Josh. These days, Peck cuts a far more dashing and undeniably handsome figure, as seen when he hosted the 2015 Teen Choice Awards.
37. Alexa Vega
Watch any of the Spy Kids movies growing up? Then Alexa Vega’s turn as scantily clad, firearm-brandishing Killjoy in sleazy 2013 action flick Machete Kills would have made your eyeballs pop right out of your head when she first appears on screen.
36. Daniel Radcliffe
The world watched as Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe changed from a nerdy little kid into an attractive, well-groomed young man who isn’t afraid to drop his pants on Broadway.
35. Alyssa Milano
In the ’80s Alyssa Milano was Tony Danza’s tomboy daughter Sam in Who’s the Boss? Fast forward a few years, though, and suddenly she’s a sex symbol and able to convincingly play a strip-joint waitress in Melrose Place. And even at 42, the Mistresses star is still achingly beautiful.
34. Hayden Panettiere
Before she was the hot cheerleader everyone wanted to save, Heroes star Hayden Panettiere played frizzy-haired Jessica in Malcolm in the Middle – practically the opposite of her future bombshell self.
33. Matthew Lewis
We’ve covered Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson already, but perhaps the most shocking Harry Potter-related transformation goes to Matthew Lewis, whose portrayal of chubby nerd Neville Longbottom got more unbelievable as the franchise rolled on. It’s safe to say that Lewis has definitely grown into his looks.
32. Michelle Trachtenberg
Michelle Trachtenberg’s metamorphosis from geeky child star into sexy Maxim cover vamp is the kind of seemingly unlikely transition that gives hope to ugly ducklings everywhere.
31. Scarlett Johansson
Encouragingly, even smoking hot Scarlett Johansson was once an average-looking child star, as evidenced in ’90s comedies North and If Lucy Fell. Remember, kids, there’s still hope.
30. Jerry O’Connell
Jerry O’Connell would make a great poster boy for puberty. Incredibly, the Sliders star went from playing the fat kid in Stand By Me to being the ripped Hollywood actor we know today. And he’s married to model-turned-actress Rebecca Romijn. Way to go, dude.
29. Lacey Chabert
Lacey Chabert practically grew up in the public eye when playing Claudia Salinger in small-screen drama Party of Five. In 2001, though, she strutted her way through comedy spoof Not Another Teen Movie in slow motion, and suddenly her transition from awkward child star to hot adult was complete.
28. Nicholas Hoult
British actor Nicholas Hoult is another celebrity who successfully transitioned from unassuming child star to hunky leading man. And it’s almost difficult to believe that the nerdy kid from About a Boy would turn into a strangely attractive zombie, as Hoult did in spooky 2013 rom-com Warm Bodies.
27. Danica McKellar
Danica McKellar makes a strong case for the notion that, sometimes, life is worth waiting for. After all, the actress’ transformation from dorky yet cute Winnie Cooper in The Wonder Years to uber-hot Stuff and Maxim lingerie model has been quite striking.
26. Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Joseph Gordon-Levitt first made a name for himself by playing long-haired dork from another planet Tommy Solomon in 3rd Rock from the Sun. Yet unlike a lot of TV stars, Gordon-Levitt successfully swapped the small screen for the silver one, starring in blockbusters such as Inception and Looper as a strikingly handsome lead.
25. Abigail Breslin
In 2006 Abigail Breslin wowed audiences as adorably awkward Olive Hoover in Little Miss Sunshine. But it was only a matter of years before Breslin would swap the librarian glasses for cleavage-flaunting dresses and a smoldering stare.
24. Jonathan Lipnicki
Jonathan Lipnicki is a special case. In ’90s hits Jerry Maguire and Stuart Little he was the cute, nerdy kid with glasses. Then he went through a chubby, awkward phase, as parodied on Family Guy. Cut to the present day, however, and he’s a ripped MMA fighter with a six-pack. Quite the transformation.
23. Alyson Stoner
Alyson Stoner first introduced herself to the world in Disney’s Mike’s Super Short Show, which was soon followed by her first big-screen role – as one of the 12 Baker kids in Cheaper by the Dozen. Nowadays, though, she cuts a sexy figure on the red carpet.
22. Dakota Fanning
Talented Dakota Fanning lived through every child’s worst nightmare: braces. At one point she even wore corrective headgear straight out of an old horror movie. And of course, the world was watching. Thankfully, Fanning apparently emerged unscathed from the ordeal, and today she’s a stunning young actress with the world at her feet.
21. Christina Ricci
Christina Ricci has grown up in front of our eyes, going from Cher’s mini-me in Mermaids, through a scantily clad performance in Black Snake Moan and on to her starring role in Lifetime’s The Lizzie Borden Chronicles. And, at 36, Ricci has never looked better.
20. Shia LaBeouf
It goes without saying that Shia LaBeouf is now a world away from the curly-haired goof who appeared in Even Stevens. True, not everything he does is genius, but the New York Post put it best when it called him a “beautiful hot mess.”
19. Amber Scott
Everyone remembers little Maggie singing “When You’re Alone” in the movie Hook, right? Well, that was seven-year-old Amber Scott, and while Scott may not have many other acting credits to her name, she grew up to be a stunning 31-year-old.
18. Thomas Brodie-Sangster
Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without watching awkward little Thomas Brodie-Sangster teaching Liam Neeson how to love again in Love Actually. Mind you, as the recent star of Game of Thrones and the Mazerunner movie, Brodie-Sangster’s probably breaking a few hearts himself.
17. Elijah Wood
A rather kooky-looking Elijah Wood scored some high-profile roles in his early teens, with films like North and Flipper. Now, though, a rather handsome thirtysomething Wood is enjoying a successful post-Lord of the Rings career.
16. Anna Paquin
New Zealand-born Anna Paquin took home the Best Supporting Actress Oscar at the tender age of 11 for her role in The Piano. She’s navigated the intervening years with dignity, too, and has since won acclaim – and hearts – as Sookie Stackhouse in True Blood.
15. Neil Patrick Harris
Neil Patrick Harris rose to prominence as a fresh-faced child-genius in Doogie Howser, M.D., but it was his role as lady-killer Barney Stinson in How I Met Your Mother that brought him back into the limelight. Now his handsome face is practically everywhere.
14. Demi Lovato
A near-unrecognizable Demi Lovato first appeared on screen – alongside Selena Gomez – as a 10-year-old on Barney & Friends. And while her personal troubles since then have been well documented, today the sexy pop songstress is much loved by a legion of fans.
13. Christian Bale
Christian Bale’s acting talent was apparent from an early age, as evidenced by his casting in Steven Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun when he was just 12 years old. Such incredible talent has traveled with him into adulthood, too, and now Bale has the rugged good looks to match.
12. Georgie Henley
English actress Georgie Henley was barely ten years old when she starred in The Chronicles of Narnia: the Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe. Now the 20-year-old beauty is studying for an English degree, albeit with occasional forays into acting and directing.
11. Kristen Stewart
Kristen Stewart lit up the big screen as a 12-year-old tomboy in Panic Room and has been working pretty consistently ever since. Lately, though, the 25-year-old has showed off her steamy side in On the Road and a Mario Testino photoshoot.
10. Jodie Sweetin
Jodie Sweetin is best known as the young Stephanie Tanner from perennial favorite Full House. The years between then and now have been marred by drug abuse, but, regardless, the gorgeous Sweetin will reprise the role for 2016 sequel Fuller House.
9. Bug Hall
Brandon “Bug” Hall’s first role was as the geeky-looking but fondly remembered Carl “Alfalfa” Switzer in The Little Rascals. In 2015, however, BuzzFeed called the modern day Hall “lumbersexual AF,” thanks to his new beardy look.
8. Tatyana Ali
Tatyana Ali will be forever remembered as Will Smith’s little cousin Ashley Banks in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. And while the now 36-year-old Ali has never had as big a role since, she’s still looking fresh today.
7. Ryan Gosling
Ryan Gosling is the personification of an awkward duckling emerging as a majestic swan. Indeed, surely no one could have foreseen that the kid from The Mickey Mouse Club would transition into one of Hollywood’s biggest heartthrobs.
6. Tyler Posey
An innocent-looking Tyler Posey had co-starred with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jennifer Lopez before he was even a teenager. And, interestingly, the 24-year-old Posey is still portraying a high school student in Teen Wolf, while he’s transformed into a gorgeous hunk of a beast to boot.
5. Blake McIver Ewing
Blake McIver Ewing appeared in both Full House and The Little Rascals as a kid, but he’s certainly all grown up now. In fact, McIver Ewing worked as a go-go dancer in 2013, and he’s not afraid to show off his hot bod on social media.
4. Robert Ri’chard
Robert Ri’chard spent a good deal of his teens playing opposite a troublemaking puppet in the Nickelodeon show Cousin Skeeter. Fifteen years later, though, ripped Ri’chard probably has no problems making human friends.
3. Mila Kunis
Amazingly, one of Mila Kunis’ first roles, at the age of 11, was in Baywatch. She’s come a long way since then, though, earning a 2011 Golden Globe nomination for Black Swan and becoming FHM’s sexiest woman in the world in 2013.
2. Candace Cameron Bure
Candace Cameron Bure may have been the oldest Tanner daughter in Full House, but she was still only ten years old when the show began. She’ll return to the role in 2016’s Fuller House, too, though now she’s a fully grown beauty.
1. Lindsay Lohan
Sadly, Lindsay Lohan’s career trajectory is every child star’s worst nightmare. Her first movie saw her playing twins in Disney comedy The Parent Trap; a respectable, even wholesome, start. A short-lived music career, rehab and a couple of DUI arrests later, though, and Lohan’s star now seems to be fading. Still, there’s no denying how insanely hot she turned out.