At what point does a cult beauty figure become a mainstream celebrity? If you’re Huda Kattan, you might say that moment just arrived: Instagram scheduling site Hopper just named the beauty mogul the wealthiest influencer on Instagram. With 20.5 million followers, the power to rake in $18,000 per post, and a growing cosmetics empire that has proven to be one of the most sought-after brands at shops like Sephora, it’s easy to see why she nabbed the top spot.
Unless you count yourself as one of the many Huda devotees who can’t live without her prized faux mink lashes, sexy lip strobes, or genius lip contour kits (designed to plump up lips without filler), you may be wondering: who is this magical woman?
Let’s start with who she isn’t: despite the many comparisons and physical similarities, Kattan isn’t a Kardashian clone. Kattan was born and raised in both Oklahoma and Tennessee, moved to Dubai after her dad, a professor, accepted a job at the American University of Sharjah, and proceeded to take the Middle East by storm when she became a WordPress beauty blogger in 2010. The 33-year-old told the The New York Times she started her Huda Beauty makeup line in 2013 after many years of experimenting with cosmetics, taking makeup courses in California, and becoming a self-taught expert in eyebrow sculpture. You might say her incredible brows opened the door to followers and fame!
From there, hers was an upward climb where she experimented with platforms like YouTube but ultimately found her home on Instagram, where her short, instructional makeup tutorials and incredibly lush up-close photos of perfectly contoured lips, cheeks, and eyes have millions of beauty-lovers flocking to her page on a daily basis. The pro differs from beauty influencers in two major ways: for one thing, Kattan is careful not to share too many sponsored posts because she has said it’s more important for her to gain the trust of her followers. And, unlike many who find fame in one section of the globe but are often unable to find ways for it to translate across cultural divides, Kattan (who is Muslim, with parents from Iraq) has figured out the formula to achieving success in both the Middle East and around the world.
Her secret may have something to do with the fact that she seems to have her finger on the pulse of not only what’s trending today, but what will probably trend tomorrow . . . and the day after that. While many were still obsessing over matte lipsticks, Kattan released lip strobes, a collection of 12 holographic and iridescent lip glosses that look completely fresh and futuristic and give incredible definition to lips. Her response to our sudden infatuation with Kylie-like pouts? Waterproof and transfer-proof lip pencils that glide on like silk and can be used to contour lips to your idea of perfection.
Kattan released a rose gold textured eye shadow palette months before the world realized it really, really needed a rose gold fix. She collaborated with brow masters Tweezerman to give girls with “furry brows” a special-edition collection of tools that will help them make the most of their eyebrows. Her number one gift is knowing exactly what we are going to want and convincing us we are willing to stand in line for hours at Sephora to score it. She doesn’t simply highlight our beauty desires on IG — she provides attainable solutions.
Have I mentioned Kattan comes across as a warm-hearted friend who just so happens to be the shopping buddy of your dreams? She’s a mom (to 6-year-old cutie Nour), has four siblings, and is extremely close to her sister Mona. She’s also very honest about her experiences with Botox and fillers.
Kattan’s honesty + her incredible cosmetics line + the natural way she shares and gives back to followers on Instagram = a well-earned spot at the top of Instagram’s influencers list.