“I think we need to take a larger responsibility as brands to disclose what consumers are looking at, especially on social media, to protect confidence and self-worth in our communities.”
Say the words Huda Beauty and any makeup junkie will gush with excitement. Founder Huda Kattan’s journey has been quite an astounding one, from being a Hollywood-trained makeup artist (with a clientele of A-list celebrities) to pioneering countless makeup trends on her beauty blog and socials. And not to forget, launching one of the fastest-growing beauty brands in the last decade. It’s safe to say Huda is one of the most influential cosmetics queen and entrepreneur in recent times.
Did you know it all began with a falsies line? Yup, with the support from her sisters Mona and Alya, Huda Beauty sky-rocketed to cult status. Today, you’ll find a range of stellar foundations, eyeshadow palettes, liquid lipsticks and more. She has even expanded to skincare, launching Wishful in February 2020.
We chat with Huda about the foundation (beyond her full coverage foundation line, of course!) of Huda Beauty and Wishful, what she does to stay relevant and how the beauty industry can do better on inclusivity and representation.
Hi Huda! Let’s go back to the beginning. How did Huda Beauty come to be?
My family and my social community were really the ones who inspired me to start Huda Beauty. The launch of my first false lash was a direct response to my followers at the time who had been begging me to start selling my custom false lashes. After a lot of back and forth, Mona finally convinced me. The first lash launch went so quickly and after we gained momentum, Alya stepped in to lend me $6,000 to get us started. We didn’t realise then that we were building the foundation for what is now Huda Beauty today. We never would have imagined [that]. Without the support from my sisters and our social community, Huda Beauty just wouldn’t be what it is today!
What was important to you during the conceptualisation of Huda Beauty?
Authenticity, quality and social listening. I wasn’t in the industry to make a quick buck. I was in the industry because I care about beauty and want to share whatever I know and learn about products and trends with the world. I give my honest opinion about all brands and products, not only my own, and I support and feature them on my blog and other owned content.
I always ensure the highest quality of product before I release anything. I’ve had to lose money before producing a product because when it was finalised and ready to ship to consumers, I knew something was off and it wasn’t good enough. My community is so important to me; they are why I am where I am and how I came to be. Without them, Huda Beauty wouldn’t be what it is today. We listen to our social community more than anything and we do what we can to give them what they want and when.
What made you decide to re-formulate your best-selling #FauxFilter foundation?
Our community! The original formula was amazing, a top-seller loved by many. But it wasn’t good enough. We received a handful of messages that it could still be even better if we removed the fragrance and confirmed that it was non-comedogenic. In the process of reformulating it with this feedback in mind, we were also faced with Covid which impacted consumer behaviour. With the requirement to wear masks, we made sure the new formula was transfer proof and long wear to withstand even the toughest days amidst Covid.
And how about your skincare line? Why did it take so long to launch it?
We started formulating Wishful about two years ago. It took a long time to perfect and I don’t launch anything until I’m 100% confident that it’s as good as it can get! Most people don’t know this about me, but I think I care more about skincare than makeup. While I started with our colour cosmetics line, Huda Beauty, I actually used to post a ton of content online about my DIY skincare hacks and products I used to prep my skin before I even started the makeup application process.
It’s so important that those who love makeup care equally for their skin. The better your skin, the better your makeup. After my long skincare journey of finding what nourishes my skin and how it has made me feel more confident, I decided I wanted to share that with the world. It’s what I wished for my skin and it’s what’s made my makeup apply to my skin that much more beautifully!
What sets Wishful apart from other skincare brands?
Wishful is a line of simple, gentle and effective clean beauty products created to give you skin you always wished for. Our products intend to give you confidence in your skin while also creating the most beautiful foundation for flawless makeup application. Underneath great makeup is great skin and you have to start there!
What do you think Singaporeans will like most about Wishful?
It’s simple but effective. It’s nothing insanely complicated or hard to use – our products are clean and made with high quality ingredients that focus on creating beautiful skin you’ll grow confident in.
How has being a woman of colour affected the driving force behind Huda Beauty and Wishful?
I think it’s only helped me! Initially, it was tough. But now I feel like people respect me more for not only being a successful female founder but for also making it happen from the Middle East.
When did you realise you had the power to make a difference in the industry?
There wasn’t a particular time when I realised I had the power to make a difference. I still don’t believe I have the power. I think the people have the power and I see myself as a megaphone for them, through my extensive social media following, to share the messages they want the world to hear and see. I am happy to share important messages to incite change that my community wants in order to make the world a better, more inclusive place.
Though inclusivity and representation have come a long way in the beauty industry, what’s something that’s still lacking?
I feel like society, perpetuated by brands, still offers very unrealistic beauty standards. And brands don’t disclose enough information to consumers to allow them to understand what’s reality and what’s completely unattainable (filters, Photoshop, etc.) I am OK when people do these things if they are honest about it, but I think it’s gotten out of hand and most people have a hard time seeing what’s real and what’s fake.
How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected you personally and professionally?
Mental health and stability are important things a team needs when faced with this type of crisis. Through this unexpected and uncontrollable hardship, I’ve learned the true power of the people. This past year, we’ve chosen to put our people first. It was and is the right thing to do. We stopped worrying about our short term goals and we invested more in our people now than ever because we have our focus set on the long term benefits of this approach.
I made sure my team felt secure, knowing their jobs were going to be protected through everything. I did that by forfeiting my own salary for the year, and my family followed suit. With everything going on in the world, job stability was the last thing I wanted my team to worry about. It really is the people that make the place and Huda Beauty wouldn’t be where it is today without the incredible people I work with every single day. As a leader, it’s my job to make sure they know that.
Talk us through your beauty routine…
Oh gosh! My beauty routine is pretty extensive. If you want all the details, you’ll have to check it out on my blog.
What’s in your skincare cabinet?
Obviously, our entire Wishful skincare collection. Beyond Wishful, I’ve been really loving Pixi Glow Tonic. Tatcha’s Deep Cleanse Cleanser is one of my favourite products too! And I absolutely love Skinceuticals CE Ferulic Acid and 111 Skin’s Energizing Essence – I’ve been using both for a very long time.
What’s a current beauty trend you’re obsessed with right now?
Brow lamination and dermablading! Dermablading isn’t new but I’d highly recommend you try it, if you haven’t. It makes your skin even softer and is ideal before makeup application! Brow lamination is a newer trend that I tried recently and am really into. I highly recommend it if you want texture and dimension added to your brows.
Finally, what’s one beauty tip you swear by?
Baking your brows! You have to try this. Once you’ve finished your brows, lightly tap and apply baking or setting powder to your brows to keep them locked in for hours!
Huda Beauty and Wishful are available at Sephora.