It's past sundown on the first night of Ramadan and Huda Kattan has completed yet another incredibly busy work itinerary after a full day of fasting. Anyone might understandably be feeling and looking beat, but Kattan is not your average person—it takes a special type to build a beauty empire as sprawling and successful as Huda Beauty, her namesake brand. As she sits down to our video chat from her Dubai home, she looks fresh-faced and glowy, despite Zoom’s notoriously lackluster lighting situation. While the obvious assumption is Kattan has layered on her usual array of full-coverage cosmetics (her self-described “cake face”), she confides that the past year has taught her a new appreciation for accentuating—not hiding—her skin.
"Launching [our skincare line] Wishful last year, we shot the campaign without makeup and Photoshop," says Kattan, "and I was like, 'Am I going to start showing my skin now? Am I going to be that person?' Which is something most people just do and don’t think about, but for me it was like, ‘holy shit, this is a moment’ and that really changed me."
That newfound focus on her skin led Kattan to develop her latest endeavor, Glowish—a line of makeup products that fuses skin-healthy ingredients into formulas designed to enhance (not hide) your natural skin. “The concept was this idea of not really wearing makeup on the weekend, but wanting to put on something more natural," says Kattan. "It became this marriage of Huda Beauty and Wishful where it’s makeup, but it's also natural and good for you. It’s not something where you put makeup on and you don’t have to be worried about covering up your skin—you’re still showing your skin, but it’s enhancing it."
Launching in June, the line consists of two complexion products and two brushes. There’s the MultiDew Skin Tint (read our honest product review here), a moisturizing tint that comes in 13 shades laced with light-diffusing pearls, and nourishing damascus rose oil, red bell pepper extract, and plant-derived squalane. The Soft Radiance Bronzing Powder (we have a review for that one too) comes in five shades and has a marbled pigment swirl, bronzing pigments and a formula infused with damascus rose oil, red bell pepper extract, shea butter, and vitamin E.
Another key point of differentiation for the line is Kattan's commitment to clean ingredients and ethically conscious production. All of the formulas are Vegan Society certified, fragrance free, and made with a minimum of 80% natural ingredients. Packaging is comprised of post-consumer recycled materials and cartons are FSC certified paper and 100% recyclable. Kattan admits that this added an extra layer of difficulty to the development process because while the products themselves had been developed back in 2019, the decision to make them with such a high concentration of naturally derived ingredients didn’t come about until after the global shutdown, making formulating, testing, and manufacturing infinitely more complicated."
We got to a point where the formulas were [almost] there and while our formulators are great, there are a lot of things that get lost in translation,” says Kattan. “We had a beautiful formula, but we couldn’t get it natural enough and get it to stay in place. It was a beautiful product for like 15 minutes and then it was shifting and moving all over the place. And you can’t use silicones and all these other things when you are naturally derived. We were coming up on our deadline and I’m like ‘Am I going to have to fly to Italy? Is it even responsible to fly to Italy?’ There was a year that went into the product ahead of time and then after we made the decision to go natural it took us about four or five months to get it right."
For how much Kattan gushes about Glowish now, she admits that originally she was skeptical. “I didn’t think I wanted to do a brand like this,” she admits. “But, I thought why should we as a company only offer two things — full coverage or nothing at all. And now I’ve become obsessed with the products, especially in the past year. I’ve only been wearing our Glowish products or no makeup, because I didn’t want to put on full-coverage makeup last year."
Before the products even launched, apparently it had unwitting admirers. Kattan lights up when she recounts a random encounter she had on the street with a fan recently. “I wasn’t wearing any makeup except for the MultiDew Skin Tint, and this girl came up to me and was like, “Oh, wow, your skin looks amazing because of Wishful.’ And I told her thank you, but that it was actually a new makeup product I was wearing that we were working on. And she goes, ‘No, you’re not.’ And I’m like, ‘Yes, I am.’ She refused to believe me and I’m just thinking why would I lie about wearing makeup? But, it was also like this is fooling people because most tinted moisturizer you can see it on the skin and she genuinely couldn’t tell."
So, does this mean Huda Beauty is now *gasp* a no-makeup makeup brand? Kattan laughs when I ask her what Glowish means for the future of Huda Beauty’s signature glam aesthetic. “Listen, I will always be a cake face. But, as times have changed, we've evolved. I was sitting with the new CEO of Sephora recently and he said something that was really interesting to me about how my brand is my personal journey exemplified through products. And that's so true. I’ve done a lot of life coaching over the years and I feel like I’ve been able to understand and express myself in ways I didn’t before. Huda Beauty was very much around one version of myself and as I’ve become more confident and self-accepting and developed as a woman, I feel that these layers of being a different version of myself is how we’ve developed the brand. Wishful pushed me to the epitome of minimalism and now I’m navigating between all these different avenues. So, I’m still cake face, but I have other options."
Followers of Kattan might be surprised to hear her getting so intimate about her personal journey with beauty, but she notes that both the changing beauty landscape and her own growth as a person has helped her realize that connection is key to growing her brand and exploring this new bare-it-all direction. “With Huda Beauty, I didn’t really talk about my personal story because I was less comfortable with it, I was a little bit more separated,” says Kattan. “Now, I feel like I’ve done the work [on myself] and I feel empowered and comfortable talking about those aspects of my life. And that’s really the only reason why we can do different things like Wishful and Glowish."
Kattan already has big plans for Glowish—she had to visibly restrain herself from divulging the full line-up of products already in the works. "The line won’t have so many products but it will have some really amazing products. I just want to go in my drawer and show you everything. So, I’m wearing—my team is going to kill me—the bronzer formula that is really amazing? We are developing some other complexion products [with it] that are really beautiful,” says Kattan, slyly tapping her cheeks with her finger while giving me a pointed glance. "It’s mostly just going to be complexion products in the beginning, but we will go out of complexion a little bit." Considering Kattan tells me that the bronzer formula was originally born while experimenting with a cream-to-powder eyeshadow, it’s fair to speculate there might be some eye makeup on the menu.
When I ask Kattan how she hopes the launch of Glowish and the revelation of her personal journey will inspire fans, she looks wistful. "I’m excited for them to see a different side of themselves," she says. “One of the things we always try to do is show my personal journey as a form of either inspiration or connection and knowing that I’m also comfortable expressing myself another way, I’m hoping that other people who may not have been comfortable doing that in the past, maybe they will feel that way now, too."