Beauty's Billion-Dollar Boss
Cosmopolitan Sri Lanka|August 2019

Last year, one woman out-earned Taylor Swift, Beyoncé and Kim Kardashian. Her name: Huda Kattan, a make-up artist from Tennessee, who, quite simply, has single-handedly changed the way women look…

Martha Hayes

Guys, she’s just passed the millennium wheel… she’s 15 minutes away!” announces a senior member of Huda Kattan’s team. The 50 or so young women and men who stand before me fizz with corresponding excitement: jaws slacken, hands clasp over open mouths, legs turn to jelly. They have gathered here, at the top of London’s “Gherkin” building, to have an audience with their idol. Or, another way of putting it: their boss. You see they are all Huda Beauty make-up artists (none older than 30, I notice) who have come from make-up counters across the land. A platter of pastries and fresh fruit on cocktail sticks goes untouched. They are too excited to think about breakfast. Some of them have been up since 4 AM to be here. Not that you’d know. Their heavily made-up faces – plump matte lips, thick, defined eyebrows and cheekbones that glow with highlighter – eradicate any whisper of tiredness. They also do something else: they all… look. Exactly. The. Same. Carefully contoured and expertly airbrushed, they have what is known as “Huda Face” – an almost avatar-like complexion that is so flawless, it’s like an Instagram filter come to life.

And then… there she is… the 35-year-old make-up-artist-turned entrepreneur Huda Kattan, standing in the doorway – all tumbling curls and Caramac skin with a smile as wide and open as a prairie landscape. To see her in the flesh is to see a living, breathing, primping, prodding embodiment of her brand; a God-like figure that her 30.1 million Instagram followers worship and live to emulate. So, OK, she’s an hour late, but no one seems to mind. Instead, they all scramble into a specially lit room that has been set up next door for professional selfies. “So we’re gonna slay,” Kattan explains, putting her arms around the first group, pouting fiercely, to which they slavishly follow suit. “And now we’re going to smile.” The group acquiesce. And for the third? “We’re gonna go silly!” To which they all mug outrageously for the camera before collapsing into girlie giggles. It’s a fine art, repeated robotically for the next half-hour, but Huda’s in her element. She doles out big hugs and copious eye contact to each person. Sadly I’m not so lucky. Because Kattan, I’m informed by one of her PR team, “doesn’t want to meet Cosmopolitan yet”.

From appearing on This Morning to speaking at Harvard, it’s been a whirlwind month for Kattan, her sister, Mona, (global president of Huda Beauty), her husband, Chris Goncalo (COO of the company), and their entourage of travelling assistants, publicists and bodyguards. I decide to chance another encounter by heading to Selfridges at 8 AM on the day she’s doing a public appearance for 100 of her top beauty customers. Kattan arrives an hour and a half late, in a green-sequinned, skin-tight Gucci jumpsuit and her hair held aloft in a thick, swishy ponytail. The crowd goes wild. But before I get to meet her, she’s dashing off again.

Having whacked on some tinted moisturiser and mascara en route, I suspect the appeal of Huda is a bit lost on me. I want to like her. I watched Huda Boss, her Keeping Up With The Kardashians-style reality show on Facebook Watch, and you know what? It made me laugh. It was earthy, funny. Date night with her husband involved having fillers, while a YouTube tutorial I found showed her testing KY Jelly as a face primer.

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