There are many versions of the Great American Dream, but Huda Kattan’s is certainly right up there. Born in Oklahoma to Muslim immigrants (her Iraqi-born parents moved to the U.S. so her mother could study mechanical engineering and her father could teach biology), Kattan grew up in Tennessee. After being teased for her unique looks and name (classmates called her “Honda” and “Hooters”), she decided to go by her middle name, “Heidi.”
Her older sister Alya turned her on to makeup, and by the time Huda-Heidi was 14, she was sculpting the brows of all of her friends. Although she studied finance at University of Michigan, she knew it wasn’t her passion. Another sister suggested beauty school, the parents agreed, and off to Los Angeles she went to study her art.
In 2006, she moved to Dubai, where she was hired as a makeup artist at Revlon. A few years later, another of her sisters suggested she start a blog. She created Huda Beauty on Wordpress; YouTube videos followed, showing her makeup skills and quirky humor and encouraging people to embrace their weirdness. Within a year, makeup zealots the world over knew her birth-given name.
In response to Kattan’s own frustration at not being able to find the perfect fake lashes, Huda Beauty, her makeup line, launched in early 2014. The brand now also has lip contours, liquid lipsticks, eyeshadow palettes, highlighting palettes, foundations, concealers, and even a fragrance. Recent estimates value the brand at over $1 billion.
Kattan spoke with the Cut about her “casual” bandage dresses, her very grounding cure for jet lag, and why we should give blush more of a chance.
Cleanser of choice: Bioderma Sébium Gel Moussant. It gets rid of everything, and it’s super gentle on my skin.
Scent of choice: Kayali.
What shade, if any, is usually on your toes and/or hands? I love experimenting with my nails and mixing it up. I’ve done ice nails, gemstone nails, jelly nails, neon nails, and even different colors on each nail (like a rainbow!). My nails can actually take up to six hours to do!
Who cuts your hair? I cut it myself, but if Jen Atkin is in town, I will have her do it.
What beauty look or trend are you over, and should be given a rest for a while? This is really surprising, but I am very over the Instagram brow — a perfect, very defined brow. I have actually started growing out the hairs at the tail of my brows because I think a bushy brow married with a more defined brow is going to be huge.
What beauty look do you struggle with achieving? Definitely the natural “no-makeup” look. I’m either full-glam or no makeup at all.
What was your first beauty product obsession? Tweezerman tweezers, which I purchased when I was about 12. Being a hairy girl, tweezers were pretty major for me!
Jeans of choice: Good American and Fashion Nova ripped jeans.
What do you splurge on? Net-A-Porter. I basically shop in my sleep!
Netflix and chill outfit: A cozy one-piece pajama set. My daughter and I have a couple matching pairs that we like to wear when we’re at home.
What is your classic uniform? It depends. I like super chill but I also love super over-the-top. I spend the majority of my time in the office and I usually wear a casual bandage dress and flip-flops or slippers.
What are you terrified of? I really don’t like monkeys …
What phrase or word are you known for saying? “OBSESSED.”
Last great film you saw: A Star Is Born. I have literally been listening to the soundtrack on repeat for weeks.
What do you do or take when you can’t sleep? Melatonin and an audio book.
Jet lag cure: Radhi Shetty (Jay Shetty’s wife) told me that whenever you travel and get to your final destination, you should take off your shoes and put your feet on the soil to help you feel grounded. We tried it on the way home from London and it actually does level you out!
Sadness cure: My daughter, Nour.
Favorite smell: Peonies and roses.
Least favorite smell: Lemongrass.
What is a lost art? Pottery and sculpting.
What is always on your desk? Love notes from my daughter and lots of family photos.
Go-to Karaoke song: “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
Go-to happy or workout song: “Satisfaction” by Benny Benassi. Clearly I haven’t worked out in a while!
Describe your most starstruck moment: I’ve only ever been starstruck once and it was by Arianna Huffington. I wasn’t expecting it but when I met her, she had the most insane presence. She is such a force with an amazing energy.
Vice snack: Haribo gummy bears and french fries. I am supposed to be on keto, but I can’t stop myself from eating them sometimes …
Most impressive dish you make: I make a bomb mac and cheese.
What do you foresee as the top beauty trends in 2019? Flushed makeup: Rosy cheeks are going to be huge! Blusher didn’t really take off in 2018 but I think a flushed look is going to be really big in 2019. I love really bright blusher on the apples of the cheeks and on the nose — almost like a Russian doll — and I think we’ll start seeing this flushed look more in the new year.
Glowy skin: Dewy skin is still really on-trend and will be just as big in 2019 as it has been in the previous years. We’ve seen people wanting to mimic natural skin with their foundation to get the look of super healthy, beautiful skin — and I don’t see this slowing down.
If you won the Powerball tomorrow, what would you do? (After, of course, donating the majority of it to your top charities …) I’d actually love to open an orphanage and it’s something we’ve discussed but I don’t think anyone has any clue as to how complicated the process is — it is definitely a life goal though. I would also love to go to outer space!