I caught up with the beauty blogging superstar turned successful businesswoman to talk all things Huda Beauty, makeup and her incredible career to date
With over 15 million followers on Instagram and 6 figure views of her makeup tutorials , Huda Kattan has become one of the top beauty influencers in the world since launching her YouTube channel and blog in 2010.
In 2013, she co-founded Huda Beauty with her sisters Mona and Alya Kattan and in just three short years, the brand has become one of the fastest-growing in the world, with her products becoming fan favourites in a relatively short space of time. Born and raised in the States, currently residing in Dubai, her appeal to both Eastern and Western audiences alike gives her the type of rare popularity that truly crosses borders. A Hollywood-trained makeup artist who’d worked on celebrities like Eva Longoria and the Royal Family before making the transition from behind-the-scenes to front of house, she looks set to make waves on this side of the pond too after her brand’s much-awaited launch into the beauty halls of Harrods . From her lip defining Lip Contours , (they are incredible - no wonder they sold out in four hours) to her Mink Lashes , to her newest launch - the silky Liquid Mattes - she looks set for world domination. I caught up with her to talk all things beauty, blogging, makeup and career management, to see what’s made Huda who she is today.
AM: What inspired you at the beginning of your journey and continues to inspire you now?
HK: I’m inspired by many things, but mainly our followers – they are truly the biggest inspiration. Seeing how much they really benefit from some of the tips that we give, how much they love the products, seeing how they aspire to start their own career in beauty or just something they are passionate about – that’s always what’s truly most inspiring. I go home at the end of the day and I want to do more because our followers are so inspirational.
AM: How do you deal with the pressure that comes with owning a brand that has your name on it?
HK: It's really difficult because you're always sensitive to what you think you represent. As human beings you just naturally change, so me as a personality, as a human being, as a businesswoman, as a beauty lover I will evolve but my brand needs to evolve in a different way - something that will always kind of be systematic and always represent ideally what I would like people to see it for. So sometimes it can be challenging. I always want to grow and evolve. I genuinely will not put my name to any product that I personally do not love and is something that I’m not obsessed with, so I think that helps with handling any pressure. I’m not someone who a manufacturer can come to (and many manufacturers have approached us before, offered us products and have asked me to put my name on it because it’s going to sell a lot, but I couldn’t do that). Whatever we produce I’ll always make sure it’s something new and innovative and something that I’m proud to put my name to.
AM: Your work is incredibly trailblazing. What would you say were the hardest parts in terms of creating something so pioneering that appealed to both Eastern and Western audiences?
HK: I think it really helps that I’m Eastern and Western, so growing up in the States but then being Arab originally and living in Dubai definitely helped us appeal to both audiences. The hardest part of creating something so pioneering is always trying to innovate the beauty world. It’s challenging because it’s so competitive; there are so many things out there that coming up with something new is difficult, but it also comes naturally to me because it’s my passion and I’m obsessed with beauty. I live, breathe, eat and sleep beauty so because it’s always on my mind every single day, I think it just helps me think of innovative ideas and products.
Do something that you would do even if you weren’t getting paid for it
AM: If there was one makeup technique that you think every woman should learn to master, what would you pick and why?
HK: The most important technique to master is contouring because it can give the illusion of a beautiful bone structure that can look absolutely flawless. One of the best ways to accentuate the beautiful features you already have is contouring – shadowing and highlighting can truly define your facial shape in the most flattering way.
AM: If you could describe the Huda Beauty brand in 3 words, what would they be?
HK: Passionate, obsessive and (lots of) love.
AM: What’s the best makeup tip you’ve learned and who gave it to you?
HK: I feel like I’ve learnt a lot of great things from amazing makeup artists. One of my favourite tips came from Mario Dedivanovic – the way he blends. Really creating the illusion that you cannot see where the makeup starts and ends and that’s really how you master blending. A lot of people are just like, “Oh blend, blend, blend, blend,” but they don’t really understand that the whole idea of blending is that you cannot see where the pigment starts. So that was my favourite makeup tip I ever learned.
AM: If you had to pick one product from your brand that is your absolute favourite, which one would it be and why?
HK: I love our products. We develop everything by hand and literally customise every single product to the needs and desires of what we think people would want. But what I would probably choose is our Lip Contour - I just feel like that is my favourite product, it really does so many things. You can use it all over the lips, it lasts all day long and it corrects lip shapes. It’s difficult to choose because all our products are so impactful. The Liquid Mattes are great for your dryer needs. It’s too difficult for me to choose one product because there’s just so much heart in everything that we do.
AM: Looking back on your career, what do you think have been the key influences and reasons behind your incredible success?
HK: The number one thing is when we started Huda Beauty, it was something that I was SO so passionate about and I think that everyone needs to consider that before they decide to go into a business. Do something that you would do even if you weren’t getting paid for it and I didn’t get paid for doing this for years. I dedicated at least five years. It was really difficult and that’s why I put everything into this business because it’s something I love. I work like a robot, 24 hours a day but I love what I do and it all comes from passion. If you’re passionate about something – you’ll never stop.
AM: What are your future plans?
HK: We definitely have a lot of products coming out this year and next year but they’ve all been carefully worked on for the last year or two and even though we do plan on expanding our product line, we’re not doing it in a rush. We’re taking our time to make sure that everything we launch is just as amazing as the last product. We will be expanding more on our media platforms – we have relaunched the Huda Beauty website and shopping site. There is a big focus on the website and there will be a lot more beauty content as we really want to become the go-to beauty source for everybody’s beauty needs.
AM: What would you say has been the highlight of your career so far?
HK: The people that follow me. I always try to read their posts and some have said I’ve changed their lives – that’s incredible. I think it really comes from a moment like this, that first time you have that feeling that you’ve had an impact, in a way, it makes you feel like what you’re doing has purpose and that’s probably the biggest highlight of my career. That’s what drives me a lot, just knowing what you do is so much more significant than what you actually might think it is. Receiving emails from people saying that you’ve changed their skin or have given them confidence, that’s just so great.
AM: Do you think anything is still missing from the beauty industry?
HK: I feel like people are trying so hard to really create products that people love and they’re doing a great job, but at the same time it’s changing in a way that makes me happy but really sad at the same time. I want to see people continuing to create products out of passion and I see that, but I also see a lot of people making products to just pump products out like a machine. I think that the beauty market will evolve, because as consumers continue to become more intelligent and savvy, beauty brands will have to respond to people’s desires and needs. I think there’s a really good wave of evolution in the industry coming and I’m excited to see it.
I think safety regulation and quality control is missing in some markets because there are so many brands out there that launch products and have no idea of the ingredients they are putting in them! There are a lot of brands that don’t have the background, research and development to put out quality products and a lot of countries don’t have proper regulations. Luckily for us, the UAE is very very strict about the products that come out so for us, we need the top guidelines in the world for what we put out there in terms of ingredients and safety. That’s why it took so long to launch the Liquid Mattes and Lip Contours – all our products have taken a very lengthy time on top of the development phase due to the safety reasons.
AM: What do you hope people take away from your products, blog and YouTube channel?
HK: We’re trying to provide tools to make it a lot easier for people to become their own glam squad, and we want to make it easier for people to look like they have a professional makeup artist at home helping them get ready. The same goes for our YouTube and the Huda Beauty website, we really feel like we want to educate women on how easy it can be to look fabulous all the time no matter if you have an hour to get ready or 15 minutes; we want to make it really easy and fun.