Huda Kattan on What It Takes to Launch Diverse Makeup


Social media can be a tough nut to crack for beauty brands, but Huda Kattan, founder of cult-favorite makeup line Huda Beauty, has the formula down pat. In 2013—before contouring and highlighting became a part of everyone’s daily beauty routines and shade diversity in makeup lines became the new (necessary) normal—Kattan and her sisters, Mona and Alya Kattan, launched their Dubai-based company Huda Beauty by experimenting with false lashes as their inaugural product.

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Five years later, with 25.9 million Instagram followers and counting, Huda Beauty has expanded to include liquid lipsticks, eyeshadow and highlighter palettes, foundation, and now, the newly-launched Easy Bake baking powders. On top of all that, Huda Kattan recently entered the world of reality TV with the launch of her new show Huda Boss, which airs every Tuesday on Facebook Watch.

We caught up with Huda Kattan to discuss her new reality show Huda Boss, what it really takes to create a diverse shade range, and her next (now not-so) secret product launch.

What makes someone a “boss,” in your opinion?

A boss is somebody who is not afraid to take risks, somebody who can make decisions not only for themselves but for others, for the good of the company, and for society. I think it’s also about being a leader, sacrificing a lot, being very focused on a certain path, and trying to make sure that you do whatever you need to do to carry out that idea. Being a boss means not letting your own needs get in the way.

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Have you always wanted to do reality TV?

I went through my diary and realized I actually wrote about having my own show a couple of times. We have been approached for the past five years about doing a show so the fact that I had been writing about it for a couple of years, it was obviously something that I did want to do. Oprah has a diary as well and well, look at everything Oprah has done. [Laughs] I want to become that successful! I think ultimately, there are a lot of people who want to start businesses, so it kind of makes sense why the show did so well because people want to know how to start a new business and what goes behind it.

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Why’d you decide to launch baking powders now?

Products do take a long time to launch, to be honest. Some brands will launch [a product] and then you’ll launch something shortly afterwards and everybody thinks you’re copying them but no, this has been in the works for over a year. The development process is longer, so it takes a minimum of a year. We really wanted to get into color. That was really important to us because a lot of brands just use translucent powders and we wanted to provide lots of varying colors.

As if translucent powders work for every tone.

Exactly. I was watching one of my favorite shows, Real Housewives of Atlanta—I’m a die hard fan—when me and my project manager came up with the idea to do baking powders. We just watched this episode and one of the ladies, Kenya Moore, had this really yellow concealer on and it was so brightening and beautiful. Her makeup always looks beautiful, and I was intrigued. We created a very yellow powder inspired by these deeper-toned women, which is the powder called Kunafa.

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I’ve spent the past few years just getting inspired by different people and makeup artists and just knowing we wanted to create powders that had different tints to them and bring out the beauty in everyone. We created a pink color, Cupcake, because a lot of people with lighter skin don’t know that you can use pink underneath your eyes. Lisa Eldridge [makeup artist and creative director at Lancôme] told me that for a lot of the models she likes to work with. I love the idea of [using] color for further brightening. It’s so pretty when a certain tone literally changes the way you look.

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Did it take you just as long to create the 40-shade Huda Beauty foundation range?

Yes. When we started making foundations, it was insane to know how many colors [our skin is] actually made of. A lot of women of color don’t realize this, but a lot of factories use black to make darker skin tones and that’s why foundation tends to look a little ashy. We knew that that’s not what people are made up of; we’re made up of reds, blues, and yellows so it definitely took us getting into labs and hand-making the shades to realize this. That’s why complexion products take such a long time because it’s about getting those undertones right. It took us two years to do the foundations—shade matching took us a year on its own, and there’s nothing I could do about that. With Easy Bake, it took us just as long because we wanted to create those perfect tones. We wanted tones that work on people and we want to continue to build a library of tones. We’re still building our DNA, we’re still growing and trying to make sure we set the foundation for Huda Beauty.

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It took us two years to do the foundations—shade matching took us a year on its own.

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On your show, you teased the concealers, which began to oxidize. Were there any hiccups with the Easy Bake powder?

Luckily, no. I knew the formula I wanted for the powders—we wanted it micronized. With the concealers, I feel like I fucked up. I could have definitely done something to prevent it and I wish that I was a bit more present during the development stages. There was a lot going on at the time, and I wish that I wasn’t so sidetracked with meeting our investors.

Now that Huda Beauty has foundations, baking powders, eyeshadow palettes, and more, are there any other face products you want to create?

We’re working on brows—I don’t know if I should’ve said that! That’s all I’m saying.

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Huda Beauty Easy Bake Loose Baking & Setting Powder, $34; sephora.com

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