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Huda and Mona Kattan on how the Internet changed the beauty industry and their global empire

By Holly O'Neill
27th Mar 2019
Huda and Mona Kattan on how the Internet changed the beauty industry and their global empire

In the April issue of IMAGE Magazine, on sale now, self-made beauty entrepreneurs Huda and Mona Kattan talk to HOLLY O’NEILL about their global beauty empire, and why you should embrace your weirdness.

What’s your first beauty memory?
Mona performed in beauty pageants as a child, which were a huge thing where we grew up in the Southern states of America. I always found it inspiring to watch her get all dolled up, so, subconsciously, I think this is when I started loving make-up. – Huda

Five products I always have in my bag are…
My travel bag always has a bottle of OUAI Dry Shampoo Foam, €30. Seriously, I don’t know what I’d do without dry shampoo in between washing my hair; it helps it to appear fresh, clean, gives me volume, and helps keep my style in place. My ride or die foundation is our #FauxFilter in Brown Sugar, €36. It has literally changed my skin. Benefit Ka-Brow, €26 is another must-have for me! Shade number three and four are my absolute go tos. I use Ka-Brow every single day. And I always have my Huda Beauty Lip Contour Pencil in Trendsetter, €18. I couldn’t leave the house without it. – Huda

The best make-up advice I ever received was…
I have so many pieces of beauty advice, but lip contouring is one of my favourites to share. When it comes to your lips, overlining can be just as effective as cosmetic procedures. – Huda

The beauty appointment I never miss is…
Easy, my dermatologist. There are things I do at home to keep my skin acne-free and healthy, but a trip to my dermatologist is essential. Growing up with problem skin and acne wasn’t easy and made me a little paranoid so this is an appointment I never miss. – Huda

The first beauty product I ever bought was…
The first item of make-up I ever bought and experimented with was a Revlon lipstick in a brick brownish colour, 1990’s style. I’m not sure if it looked good on me or not, but I loved it at the time since it was so on trend. – Huda

The first beauty product I ever loved was…
Tweezers were one of the first beauty products I ever bought that changed my life. I am such a hairy person so they made such a difference for me. There are very few products I don’t leave the house with and tweezers are one of them. – Huda

The worst beauty mistake I ever made was…
Picking the wrong foundation colour! Store lighting is totally different to being out in the sun, and it’s important to test your foundation in both conditions before you buy. Nowadays I always ask for a tester to try the foundation in natural daylight. – Huda

My signature scent is…
I use different layering combinations depending on how I’m feeling that day and where I’m going – sometimes I layer up to twelve to fifteen different scents. At the moment, one of my favourite KAYALI blends is to start with ELIXIR | 11, then add VANILLA | 28, and finish with MUSK | 12. It creates the most gorgeous complex, floral scent. – Mona

ELIXIR | 11 and CITRUS | 08 are very close to my heart, and scents that took a while to perfect. CITRUS | 08 is nothing like other citrusy scents you have tried before, it’s a very feminine and hypnotic scent and mixes very well with floral notes – people always get surprised when they smell it, as it’s not what they expected. – Huda

I never travel without…
SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic, €150. I use it every single night and I noticed such an improvement to my skin tone, especially as I had quite bad acne scars and hyperpigmentation, and it evened it out so well. It’s pretty much erased my acne scars and given me super glowy skin. Oh, and tweezers… for my eyebrows AND to help me apply my false lashes! – Huda

A really large selection of some of my favourite perfumes! Since I started the Keto diet I also always carry keto-friendly snacks like nuts, berries, etc. and a large bottle of water. Staying hydrated is so important. -Mona

My weird make-up hack is…
I love playing with eyeshadow colours but I sometimes get puffy eyes from travelling. When this happens I always use witch hazel. It’s a natural astringent that helps reduce swelling and refresh tired eyes. All I do is soak a cotton pad with witch hazel and apply it under my eyes (avoiding the eyes themselves!) for five minutes – my eyes are then ready for a pop of colour. – Huda

What’s the last beauty item you bought?
I test and buy so many items every day for the blog that it’s honestly hard to remember sometimes. It was probably a skincare product from Dr. Stern or Anne Semonin. I’ve been obsessed with both brands recently. – Huda

I would really like to try (could be a class, a treatment, a product, a hairstyle)…
Tidying up with Marie Kondo! I heard about her and her show and was like, “I need this woman in my life.” In fact, I even started an initiative in the office and gave everyone a half day to spend time cleaning and organizing their thoughts, e?mails, desk spaces, etc. I just think it’s so important to stay organized and tidy so we’re more focused on the bigger more important things at work and are overall more effective. If I could have the expert herself come and teach me, I think it would be so cool. – Huda

Three current obsessions…
I am currently on the Keto diet and when you’re on it, you really have no choice but to be obsessed with it in order to get the results you’re looking for. I’ve been all about eating healthy and working out diligently and I’ve never felt happier. – Mona

Why did you decide to set up HUDA Beauty?
I knew that there was a demand for false eyelashes before they became really mainstream. When I worked as a makeup artist, I used to create my own lashes by customizing, shaving and stacking them together. People would always ask me where I got them from and that’s when we realised that there was a gap in the market. Mona, is super entrepreneurial, so she suggested I start a lash line, and my older sister Alya lent me some money to get started and I promised her I would pay her back. I told her that even if nobody bought the lashes I would wear every single pair and pay her every time I wore them – and she agreed! The brand later launched at Sephora in Dubai Mall in February 2013, and then we really just grew from there. I wear lashes every single day, so it felt really natural that that was our first product. – Huda

What make-up look made you feel the most beautiful?
I always trust Hindash to do my make-up. He always makes my eyes look bomb with ultra-feminine shades and textures that work to make my eyes really pop. He’s been using our Huda Beauty New Nude Eyeshadow Palette, €65, recently since it has a ton of really gorgeous pinks, mauves and shimmers which are perfect for getting a really soft, feminine eye. – Mona


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What beauty related advice would you tell your younger self?
I would like to tell my younger self that when you feel beautiful, you become beautiful. Something as simple as smiling completely transforms you and those around you. I encourage everyone to really embrace their weirdness or what makes them unique and to define beauty for themselves. Do what makes you feel beautiful and own it. – Huda

What was your first big break?
After a million emails and business pitches, Sephora finally took me seriously and decided they would sell my lashes. Huda Beauty then launched at Sephora in Dubai Mall in February 2013 starting with a small lash collection. This moment was HUGE for me and honestly surreal. This was definitely my big break and only the beginning for so much success to come. – Huda

How did you begin working with so many big names?
It was during my time in LA that I started working with Hollywood actors and people like Nicole Richie and Eva Longoria, some of my first clients. I built up those relationships then and still get to do some of their make-up nowadays.- Huda

What’s been your proudest moment since the launch of HUDA Beauty?
I’m most proud of my social media family. I always read their posts and some have said I’ve changed their lives and that’s just insane to me. Moments like this, when you realise you’re making an impact, make you feel like what you’re doing has a purpose and that’s probably the biggest highlight of my career. Receiving emails from people saying that I’ve changed their skin or given them confidence is invaluable and so incredibly special to me. – Huda

How do you think HUDA Beauty has changed the industry?
We are a fun brand that is still really sophisticated and super innovative. Our values have never changed and we genuinely use our platforms to share our love for beauty and support other artists. – Mona

I always try to be as real as possible on social media and pride myself on supporting brands I love and truly believe in. We try to make beauty fun and easily accessible, which is why we create so many funny memes, skits and challenges, and our audience really loves it. We never create anything unless we recognise that there is a need for it. Because our social family is so engaging, we are very skilled at identifying a ‘gap’ in the market and creating products that fill that void. – Huda

If you could do one person’s make-up, who would it be?
Definitely Beyonce! I just don’t know if I would survive the moment. I may hyperventilate, faint and die if I meet Beyonce. – Huda

How do you think social media has changed beauty and the beauty industry?
Our company was born out of social media so it’s everything to us. The three things that we value most are product, social media and content. Social media has bought brands and consumers closer together than ever before and we really recognize that and value it unlike any other beauty brand before us. – Mona

Do you have any skincare secrets?
I think one of the biggest beauty myths is that people with oily skin shouldn’t moisturise. The truth is, if your skin is oily it can still be dehydrated and if you don’t moisturise, you will cause your skin to produce more oil because it will compensate for the lack of moisture. For those with oily skin I would recommend using the right moisturiser that will replenish and hydrate without sitting heavily on your skin. A lightweight gel or water-based formula that’s non-comedogenic is ideal. It won’t clog your pores or make your skin feel greasy. – Huda

Who is your celebrity make-up icon?
I have many but my first beauty icon ever was Princess Jasmine from Aladdin! When I was super young, I could relate to her most because of our tan skin. I also just loved her super long hair and her Arabic influenced makeup style – big liner and lashes. – Huda

When do you feel the most beautiful?
I feel most beautiful when I smell delicious and think positively! I would never leave the house without my many layers of perfume and I always encourage optimism. The way you feel every day starts with the way you think. – Mona

This article originally appeared in the April issue of IMAGE Magazine, on sale now.