The Genius of Huda Kattan

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“I’ve never said this in an interview before, but I was the black sheep of my family,” Huda Kattan opens up to ELLE India. “I grew up in the states, and I was one of the few brown girls in the entire school. Nobody saw me, and I felt unworthy,” she says with refreshingly frank honesty. The beauty maven goes on to explain how the idea of that imperfection led her to freedom.

“I made peace with it because I realised I didn’t feel any pressure to be perfect. It allows me to be more human and feel empowered,” Kattan adds. And it is perhaps this very philosophy that led her to lay the foundation of her recently launched beauty range, Em(power)ed. On that note, here’s Kattan in a freewheeling chat with ELLE India about business, beauty and being unstoppable…

ELLE: What does empowerment mean to you, and how do you translate that into a make-up line?

HUDA KATTAN (HK): I was going through the journey of self-acceptance when I realised that eliminating self-doubt made me feel empowered. Empowerment isn’t always about success; it’s the joy you experience by being who you are. It was an incredible feeling. And that inspired me to create Em(power)ed.

ELLE: How did you plan and freeze on shades, pigments and textures for it?

HK: While planning the launch of Em(power)ed, we were also in the process of withdrawing a few palettes from the market. I wanted to add in a few staple shades from those palettes which people liked and were perfect for a daily routine. I believe that big palettes must also have a few basic shades. And the gold in the Em(power)ed palette was specifically chosen because it’s legendary and makes us feel confident. We leaned into that story, and so gold is the star shade of the palette.

ELLE: You have spoken about being judged for your looks and skin tone. How did you navigate the negativity?

HK: I’m usually not asked these questions because people don’t think about it often. They comment mindlessly. To be honest, those judgements and comments have made me doubt my worth and capabilities. It’s been 13 years since I started off as an influencer, and I have been through a lot. It seems easy to say now that my journey to self-love has helped me disconnect from toxicity, but it was extremely challenging. However, recognising and understanding an issue are the initial steps towards fixing it, and that acceptance doesn’t come easily. It took me years to work on it and reach a point where I value myself.

ELLE: Huda beauty’s #FauxFilter foundation and its line of skincare that promotes no-filter skin are both loved, creating a perfect juxtaposition. How do you strike a balance between the two?

HK: (Laughs) One is the opposite of the other, isn’t it? Well, it’s such an interesting scenario now when I think of it, the way you put it. Initially, I wanted to cover my skin, but then the focus shifted to healthy skin. I won’t lie, I still love my #FauxFilter foundation but (now) I also feel confident without makeup. I believe it’s normal to wear makeup, but one must also feel good without it and not depend on it. Huda Beauty and Wishful Skincare may seem opposite to each other, but I designed them to work well together. The idea is to use the right skincare before applying makeup to create a smooth base. While I prep my skin before makeup with Yo Glow, the elements in #FauxFilter create the softness, making the two work in tandem.

ELLE: How has beauty consumption changed over the years?

HK: The pandemic changed the way we consume beauty. The makeup became minimal and dewy, but ‘glam’ is coming back now. Before the pandemic, we were living for other people; we loved the glamour but more for people to take notice and compliment us. However, in the last couple of years, we started seeing things in their real form and fell in love with them. Now, I believe we appreciate the process of ‘glam’ a lot more.

Trend forecast for 2023?

Messy makeup is interesting. We’ll see more grunge in make-up

A favourite beauty hack?

Applying blush on my hand, taking it on the brush and then using it on my face. Try it with a cream blush

Opinion on viral beauty hacks and trends?

I do try them, and end up using some of them; some I don’t. At times these are complicated and gimmicky, and then there are many good ones as well.

Thoughts on launching a hair-care line?

When I was asked to do it a couple of years ago, I declined. But we are now considering it

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