You Won’t Believe How Much Elizabeth Holmes Has Changed

Once upon a time, Elizabeth Holmes was America’s youngest self-made female billionaire and the head of biotech company Theranos, which promised new blood-testing procedures that would revolutionize health care. But, beginning in 2015, the cracks in Holmes’ tech empire and veneer of prestige started to show, with reports trickling out that the level of technology she championed was “exaggerated” at best. In 2018, Holmes was formally indicted on charges of fraud, and now faces upwards of 20 years in prison.

With a fall this great, people are naturally obsessed with Holmes, and the many more stranger-than-fiction details of her life — wolf/dog, mysterious fiancé, deep baritone, and calculated image included. Inspired by Steve Jobs, she donned a uniform centered around a signature black turtleneck, and always paired it with straight blonde hair, bright lipstick, and a clean French manicure.

“She has a consistent, uniform look,” says Amanda Sanders, an image consultant based in New York City. “It becomes recognizable. It’s smart in and of itself, because her look became her trademark.” Ahead, see how that beauty uniform evolved — and what Holmes looks like now.

2009

A decade ago, Elizabeth Holmes was a 25-year-old giving speeches about team building, as a series of videos posted on YouTube by Entrepreneurship.org shows. The most notable difference between the Holmes we know now and the one seen here is the hair color, but what we can also see in this clip is that she was a big fan of heavy eyeliner even then.

Image consultant Carol Davidson finds the liner look interesting. “To me, it had a very strong aggressive feel to it,” she says. “It feels like that was playing into that strong, ‘can play in a man’s world’ kind of vibe. It’s almost like she’s trying to assert her dominance through this heavy, intense, alpha makeup.”

YouTube


September 2014

Fast forward five years, and the Holmes we know has arrived. The CEO of Theranos, speaking on stage at a tech conference in San Francisco, wore her now-blonde hair in a messy bun.

Photo: Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch.


April 2015

Months later, Holmes made her first real red carpet appearance at the 2015 Time 100 Gala in New York City, debuting what would be her beauty uniform for the next few months: straight hair, bright-pink blush, smudgy dark eye makeup, and cherry-red lipstick.

Photo: Taylor Hill/Getty Images.


September 2015

We weren’t kidding. For nearly every major event in 2015, from red carpets to meetings for the Clinton Global Initiative (seen here), Holmes showed up with bright-red lipstick, pink blush, and dark eyeshadow.

Photo: Adam Jeffery/CNBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images.


October 2015

For a cocktail party hosted by Vanity Fair in San Francisco, Holmes switched up her beauty uniform, wearing mauve lipstick rather than bright red, shimmery eyeshadow as opposed to matte black, and much more minimal eyeliner. She did, however, keep up with her usual French manicure. “When she would speak, she spoke a lot with her hands,” says Davidson. “That was always on display, so I do think that the image and appearance was intentional.”

Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Vanity Fair.


November 2015

Here, Holmes took a toned-down approach to certain aspects of her usual dramatic look, with a more neutral lip color than her preferred red, brown eyeshadow instead of black, and a lighter blush application.

Photo: C Flanigan/Getty Images.


November 2015

The next day, Holmes showed up to the 2015 Glamour Women of The Year Awards with her hair styled into a sleek and shiny lob. Was this the beginning of an entirely new look for the entrepreneur?

Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Glamour.


August 2016

Guess not. In the summer of 2016, Holmes resurfaced again at an event hosted by Glamour, in her usual uniform of dark eyeshadow and red lips.

That was the last time Holmes appeared in front of the press. The next time she was publicly photographed was in 2018, when she was charged with wire fraud. As you can see from video taken outside the courthouse, Holmes sports a bare face, which is something Sanders would recommend going forward. “To not be associated with her old life, she should do something sort of dramatic,” Sanders says. “She should remove that makeup and go back to basics. I’d recommend her even coloring or cutting her hair.”

With so much scandal surrounding Holmes, and a HBO doc about her rise and fall about to debut, becoming virtually unrecognizable right now might not be the worst idea.

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