Huda Kattan on inclusivity and her favourite make-up trends and hacks

The beauty mogul gives us an on-the-go routine that we should all adopt.

Harper's Bazaar India

In 2013, Iraqi-American beauty mogul, Huda Kattan started out by selling fake eyelashes to her beauty-loving followers. Within a few years of her brand’s inception, she added eyeliners and a liquid matte lipstick to her product offering. And today, Kattan has become one of the most influential people in the beauty universe with her two brands—Huda Beauty and Wishful Skin.  

Built on the ideals of inclusivity and individuality, Huda Beauty has created a safe space in beauty that welcomes everyone and where everyone finds exactly what they want and need. As the brand celebrates five years of two of their cult-favourite products—the Easy Bake Loose Baking & Setting Powder and the Easy Bake and Snatch Pressed Brightening and Setting Powder—Kattan talks to Bazaar India about her earliest memories of make-up, breaking through the rigid standards of beauty, and her favourite make-up hacks. 

Harprer’s Bazaar (HB): How do you define beauty and how has that definition evolved over the years?

Huda Kattan (HK): Beauty always adhered to rigid standards that fell into stereotypical idealisms and often followed trends. But our beauty is not a trend. I think that's something we are all realising. The categories and definitions we grew up with are fading away. We are celebrating our individuality and this will hopefully continue and inspire change for younger generations. 

Social media has played an incredible role in this shift. It's helped us move towards inclusivity, valuing imperfections and celebrating different body types and skin tones. Beauty brands are also adapting to create products that include and empower everyone. For me, beauty starts from within, and the most beautiful thing is being kind to yourself and others. Then, you become your true self with that kind of authenticity—that's where real beauty is found. 

HB: What are your earliest memories of makeup and beauty?

HK: Growing up, I loved watching my sister Alya doing her makeup. A lot of makeup lovers will understand this memory, sitting around your sister, mother, or friends and watching them get ready and being mesmerised by all the products and techniques they used. I could never afford my own makeup, so I started borrowing hers.

HB: You grew up in the US but have an Iraqi heritage, what has your experience with representation been like and how did shape the vision for your brand?

HK: Being exposed to two different cultures has been a privilege. I really appreciate the diversity of beauty and the differences between cultures. I draw inspiration from it and integrate it into my brand ethos. I make it my mission to create an inclusive and empowering space and a range of products for everyone.

HB: It’s been 5 years since the launch of the Easy Bake loose baking and setting powder with Easy Bake and snatch pressed brightening and setting powder. Tell us the story behind this hardworking and cult-favourite product.

HK: Five years ago! It feels like yesterday. For me, baking is one of the biggest game changers in a makeup routine, and it’s not used enough! Our OG Easy Bake is my ride-or-die as it sets your makeup for a more filtered finish. Over the years, this power product helped me realise the potential of baking and how it can be used in so many ways to set and enhance your look, but traditional baking takes time – which we don’t always have.

I wanted to create a quicker way to bake ‘on the go’ while harnessing the power baking has to sculpt the face, so our Easy Bake and Snatch Pressed Brightening and Setting Powder was born! Giving the same finish as our OG formula, this pressed powder is made for ‘speed-baking’ my new term for how quickly this product makes it to brighten and lift the face. I’m obsessed with both powders, and although born in the same family, they have different uses, so I often layer the two formulas together for a super sculpted look that lasts all day. 

HB: Why do you think a setting powder needs to be a staple product in all makeup routines?

HK: I think that makeup has no rules, but I think a setting powder is the perfect finisher for your routine. You just have to find the perfect one for your skin type and preference. For matte-look lovers, achieving long-lasting matte makeup is easy if you use a loose powder to set it in place. Our Easy Bake Loose Setting and Baking powder is made for that as it will mattify your skin without creases and give you a flawless finish that lasts all day. For my dewy lovers, go for Easy Bake and Snatch, as it’s made to brighten and lift, giving a luminous finish to the skin, all while setting your makeup.

HB: Huda Beauty has worked hard to make the world of makeup more inclusive. Take us through the process of getting the shades and textures of your products right.

HK: I’m incredibly passionate about inclusivity and ensuring that everyone who wants our products can find the right shade for them. And so, I have invested a lot of time in getting the shades and textures of our products right. Only a few years ago, finding shades for a range of skin tones was near impossible, and I wanted to challenge that. 

I encountered many challenges throughout the process. For example, some manufacturers would be lazy with formulating colours and suggest adding black pigment to the formula when I requested shades for darker skin tones, which for me was just a shortcut. Our skin tones are a rich blend of blues, reds, yellows, golds, and more, and simplifying it with just black pigment felt like a disservice. No wonder most foundations were so ashy back then! I was lucky to find incredible labs and assemble a fantastic team that shares my vision. Together, we make products for everyone. It’s about celebrating beauty's diversity and ensuring that no one feels left out.

HB: Have you seen a shift in the narrative and an increase in inclusivity and diversity in recent times?

HK: Growing up, the lack of representation in magazines left me feeling disconnected from the beauty conversation. I wanted to feel beautiful but couldn't find anyone representing me, which was tough. While I've seen progress in recent years toward being more inclusive, there's still a long way to go. Being inclusive requires consistent effort and encountering challenges as we're trying to change an embedded narrative. Still, I believe we're moving toward a future where every brand will offer shades suitable for every skin tone so that everyone feels seen and beautiful.

HB: What is your opinion on the trends and hacks that are circulating on social media? Are there any you particularly love?

HK: Trends are an amazing way to see the current mindset of the world and give us insight into what people want and need. Lately, social media trends have created hacks that people can't wait to try, and I love that! One thing I have never done is gatekeep, whether that's products from another brand or a hack I've found. Whenever I launch a product, I always give my tips and tricks on how to use it best. Right now, I'm obsessed with any hacks involving powder. I usually contour with powder, which is a super cool trick to use. I apply powder a shade lighter than usual on my undereye, right under my cheekbones, and along my jawline – it brightens and lifts your face instantly! 

HB: Give us three tips for a quick on-the-go makeup routine.

HK: I'm currently obsessed with speed-baking because I love baking, but I don't always have the time to bake with a loose powder, so I use our Easy Bake and Snatch instead. My second tip is to find a good mascara with minimal application time but a major impact; that's why I launched our Huda Beauty 1 Coat WOW! Extra Volumizing And Lifting Mascara to transform lashes quickly with little effort. My final tip is to use a colour corrector on your base before any other product. Our #FAUXFILTER Color Correctors are my current obsession, as I love peachier tones to cancel out dark circles. Colour correctors are a majorly underestimated product that can totally transform your complexion. 

HB: If you could use only five Huda Beauty products for the rest of your life, which ones would they be and why?

HK: This question is probably the hardest question you could ever ask me as I only launch products that I love and believe in.

If I had to, I’d choose a strategic routine. I would start with our #FauxFilter Color Corrector, which cancels out dark circles and pigmentation and gives me the best base for other products. Next, I would go in with our #FauxFilter Luminous Matte Concealer as this is so versatile; on low-maintenance days, I’d only use it under my eyes and on any areas that need a little coverage, but it can also be used all over the face as ‘foundcealer’ another makeup hack I love. This product would be Easy Bake Pressed and Snatch pressed powder, especially as it blends perfectly with the previous two products to set them in place and give me a super snatched and lifted look. Then I would choose our Huda Beauty 1 Coat Wow! mascara as it gives volumised and longer lashes. Finally, I would choose our iconic Liquid Matte Lipsticks, as I’m obsessed with how long-lasting and lightweight the formula is while giving a major colour payoff. I love all our shades, but if I had to choose just one to answer this question, I’d go for my fave, ‘Bombshell.’