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Mane Muse Huda Beauty On How She Curbed Haters and Built an Empire

“Sometimes I can just tell when something is going to be major. If it doesn’t make me want to pee a little out of excitement, then I keep brainstorming and searching.” Call her clairvoyant, but if you want to follow in the footsteps of Huda Kattan— makeup mogul, mom, and founder of Huda Beauty (the line of liquid lipsticks, lashes, and more that’s flying off digital shelves)—you’re going to need a hawk-like hunch when it comes to predicting trends, an ability that catapulted the Dubai-based blogger to international success. Six years ago, before she was ballin’ hard in the beauty bubble, Huda started a makeup blog. But with a flood of requests for more detailed tutorials, Huda quickly needed a foolproof way to feed her followers’ curiosity. During a time when vloggers hadn’t invaded the digital space yet, she found the solution: YouTube. “It’s always been a platform to share beauty, support other artists, and give people the tools they need to feel confident – whether it’s a DIY for acne or a tutorial on how to fill in your brows. I have always been about my concerns and I share my journey on my social media, hoping it might help someone in the future.” It didn’t take long for the world to catch on. Shortly after Huda became a vlogger, CNN picked up her contouring tutorial. The beauty technique spread like wildfire. Huda Beauty followed.

Huda Beauty Huda Kattan Huda Kattan hair ponytails pigtails Chris Appleton

At the time of our shoot, the makeup world’s luscious-haired leader was busy adding foundations to her line, so I had to know—are hair products in the works? Haircare is something her social media community has been asking for, but that’s not in the plan right now, she tells me. Huda might be a high-powered pioneer in the cosmetics industry, but she doesn’t take things too seriously. Her laugh exudes a sun ray’s warmth, and that set of pearly whites could convince anyone to buy what she’s selling, be it liquid lipsticks or a box of rocks. As celebrity hairstylist Chris Appleton brushes through her Veruschka-inspired pigtails, Beyonce’s “Drunk in Love” spills out the speakers, making the black-clad beauty queen bust a move before Mike Rosenthal revs up his camera. “My first thoughts were, ouch! Those ponytails were sooo heavy, I did not expect that! I loved how playful they were and I loved flipping them from one side to the other,” Huda says while Chris gets her into the second XXL look—a long, platinum blonde wig, courtesy of The Hair Shop. When someone suggests they should cut the wig short, Huda objects, “I’m not a bob girl.” That she isn’t. “Ever since I was little girl I wanted to be blonde so badly. This is my favorite look, it makes me feel super sexy!”

Huda Beauty Huda Kattan Huda Kattan hair Blonde hair transformation Chris Appleton

As for how she maintains that feel-good vibe with her mane, Huda trusts few with her tresses, confessing, “A lot of people don’t know this, but because I’m a HUGE perfectionist and because my hair is really difficult to work with, I usually color, trim and style my hair myself (unless Jen [Atkin] is in town and gives me the perfect cut)!” While it’s Huda’s penchant for makeup that cemented her brand, she knows how to make good hair days a thing for herself and her fam.“ I’ve been doing my hair since I was a teenager. I actually love doing hair and I do my sisters when I have time. It’s therapeutic. Women in Dubai are OBSESSED with grooming—it’s a part of our culture and tradition! Friday afternoon hair masks/oil treatments and blowouts have been a family tradition for centuries in Arab culture.”

If you’re one of the 21.5 million people who follow Huda on Instagram, you know what hangouts with her sisters, Mona and Alya, look like (so much fun, it gives us FOMO every time). She isn’t shy about sharing a slice of her life with the world, and she isn’t shy to shut down social media trolls either. “If someone is being really mean and hateful, my team blocks them. I’ve been in this industry for a while now and it’s made me very strong so it doesn’t get to me, but I also don’t want to allow any negativity to live on my page.” Being a digital media veteran (Time named her one of the 25 most influential people on the internet), Huda handles haters like a pro. “I went through two severe cases of cyber bullying early on in my career which literally made me sick. It slowed me down at first, but I then realized that making me give up was their ultimate goal because they were so intimidated by my drive. You CANNOT let bullies win, keep fighting. Every time people come up to me and tell me that I’ve helped them feel better, it gives me so much more inspiration to keep going strong!” We’ll never know what it’s like to have millions of people eyeing our business (and pleasure), but here’s to Huda for giving us the advice (and the perf liquid matte pout) we need to curb humans drunk on hater-ade.

Crew: Photography by Mike Rosenthal; Hair by Chris Appleton; Makeup by Ashley Holm; Wardrobe by Maeve Reilly; Creative Production by Ashley Alanis. All hair provided by The Hair Shop.

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