Huda Beauty Is an Influencer Marketing Success Story

Kimberly Surico |
 11/06/20 |
8 min read


Huda launched her brand, Huda Beauty, in 2013 with the help of her sisters, and the brand practically exploded overnight due to Huda’s online fanbase from her blog and social media channels. Huda Beauty’s Instagram is an Influencer Marketing success story since the account has the most followers out of any makeup brand with over 47 million followers, followed by Kylie Cosmetics, another influencer-run brand. Let’s see how she did it and ways other brands can create the same success!

complete guide to influencer marketing

Beauty Influencer Background

The fact that Huda Beauty and Kylie Cosmetics are two of the most popular makeup brands is revealing about the power of influencers in the beauty industry.

Huda Kattan originally worked in finance, but she changed gears when she realized she wanted to pursue her passion for makeup. She has worn many hats in the beauty world as a blogger, makeup artist, influencer, and eventually the founder of a billion-dollar brand. From the beginning, Huda stood against traditional advertising methods and instead used her social media channels and blog to promote her artistry and her beauty brand products. She has always focused on videos of makeup tutorials and beauty tips for her social media accounts to provide something useful to her followers, but she has also shared other types of posts to promote her products like makeup close-up photos and giveaway posts.

Quid Pro can help you visualize the major themes that are associated with Huda Beauty by running a News/Blogs search dated back to 2013, when the brand launched. The clusters in this network feature a variety of products that Huda Beauty sells, like eyeshadow palettes, false eyelashes, and foundation. This shows you which products have received a lot of news coverage to reveal what products have resonated with consumers.


Leveraging Micro-Influencers to Reach a Target Market

One of the ways that Huda Beauty promotes its products is through its collaboration with micro-influencers. Huda Kattan is an influencer herself and has always loved giving opportunities to up-and-coming beauty influencers. Searching within the Huda Beauty network for “micro-influencer” reveals stories that elaborate on Huda Beauty’s connection to Influencer Marketing.


In the most relevant article in this search, “Even Influencers Need Influencers: Why Micro-Influencers Matter for Social Video Campaigns,” the author explains that Huda Beauty often uses micro-influencers to promote products. In 2017, one micro-influencer shared a video post, featuring Huda Beauty products and the hashtag #hudabeauty. The post gained over a whopping 6 million views even though the beauty influencer actually had just around 34,000 followers at the time. These posts can create lots of exposure for the products, as they reach a very wide online audience.

Micro-influencers are people who have between 1,000 to 100,000 followers on a social media platform including Instagram. They typically produce a high level of engagement with their posts and they help brands reach their target market, helping brands to reach customers in oversaturated markets.

Celebrating Diversity and Inclusivity


Huda Beauty has a global presence as it is loved in the United States, as well as internationally; in fact, it is among the best-selling makeup brands at Sephora in Dubai and Harrods in London.

Huda Kattan is an Iraqi-American woman who was born in Oklahoma City, raised in Tennessee, and has also lived in Dubai and Los Angeles. She actually started her beauty blog while living in Dubai and she sold her first Huda Beauty products in 2013 in Dubai, where the company is still headquartered. The first Huda Beauty products sold were false eyelashes, which were a huge hit especially after the Kardashian sisters publicized that they love wearing them. This screenshot of Huda Beauty’s Instagram account displays the variety of posts that the company shares. It also shows the diversity that the brand represents, with people of many different ethnic backgrounds shown to celebrate beauty worldwide. 

Huda Kattan has always wanted to embrace her Iraqi heritage and create makeup with a Middle Eastern influence. Her brand stands out as it is known for its vibrant colors and contouring looks, which are especially popular among Middle Eastern women. Huda used to feel like an outsider who was bullied for being different, but she has turned her insecurities into a strength by embracing her uniqueness and creating a beauty empire with an inclusive brand that appeals to both Western and Eastern audiences.

Foundation for a Wide Range of Skin Tones

When looking at the network view of a Quid Pro search of Huda Beauty, you can scan the clusters and focus on which ones are relevant or interesting, such as “New Foundation Range,” which highlights the shade-inclusive foundation launched in 2017. The bestselling #FauxFilter foundation comes in 30 shades, ranging from ultra-fair to ultra-deep. Huda Kattan stated that non-inclusive brands will “not be around for long” since consumers expect more from brands now. She took things to the next level in 2020 when she released a foundation in stick-form that boasts even more range with a total of 39 shades.


Tracking Product Releases through Quid Pro

Quid Pro can help also companies track topics and brands over time with the timeline view. In this search of Huda Beauty, you can track the brand’s progress as the number of stories on Huda Beauty increased each year since Huda Beauty launched in 2013. There was a big increase of stories published in 2019, and you can highlight the bar of that year to see the types of articles published, sorted by relevance.


You can see the big themes covered in 2019, like eyeshadow palettes and new Sephora products. The top relevant story of 2019 is an article covering the release of the Mercury Retrograde Palette, which recommends the product and describes the versatility of the eyeshadow palette.

Competitive Intelligence in the Eyeshadow Market

Huda Beauty’s eyeshadows are some of the brand’s best-selling products. The previously shown search on Quid provides evidence that there is a lot of positive media coverage on Huda Beauty’s eyeshadow palettes. Therefore, you may want to investigate this product category more. Quid can help you do just that. When running a search of “eyeshadow” or “eyeshadow palette” in a News/Blogs search in Quid, you can gain knowledge on the top brands discussed in the news to gain some competitive intelligence. In the following bar chart, you can see Huda Beauty is high in the top primary mentioned companies among all of the news and blog articles about eyeshadow in Quid’s database since October of 2013.


As you can see, only three other brands have been mentioned in the news more than Huda Beauty. Sephora and Bobbi Brown were both founded well before the 2000s, so it is impressive that newer brands Kylie Cosmetics and Huda Beauty are not far behind in media coverage to brands that have been established for decades.

complete guide to influencer marketing

A Brand for Lipstick, Eyeshadow, and Foundation Users Alike

Using NetBase Enterprise helps uncover the sentiment surrounding Huda Beauty. When looking at the Sentiment Drivers word cloud, one can see the major emotions used when talking about Huda Beauty like obsession, love, amazing, and beautiful. When clicking on the term “love,” you can see social media posts containing that term. The first post featured says, “Love Huda Beauty palettes.” Other people have described other products they love, including lipsticks, eyeshadow, and foundation, proving that Huda Beauty is loved for not one, but several different types of products.


Another useful NetBase widget is StoryScope. This widget displays some of the top terms, hashtags, emotions, people, and things associated with Huda Beauty. An overwhelming amount of the terms displayed in this view have a positive sentiment. You can also click on a term that you want to dive deeper into, like “foundation” to see Sound Bites that include the term “foundation.”


Clicking on one of the top tweets among the sound bites reveals this twitter conversation from late 2018 about Huda Beauty foundation. One Twitter user describes the foundation as “amazing” to help out another user in her quest to get a foundation that has matte coverage, multiple skin tones, and the ability to cover a tattoo. Another tweet mentions that the foundation even smells good.


Looking at the Popular Posts widget on NetBase will show you the top posts arranged by engagements. In this case, I used the “Converged Media” filter and selected “Earned” only to hide posts from Huda Beauty’s accounts and focus on consumer-generated posts and learn about consumers or potentially identify a micro-influencer. This makeup lover shows off her creative look using the Huda Beauty Mercury Retrograde Palette, which was the popular palette released in 2017 mentioned earlier.


The Popular Posts widget displays both photo and video posts from Instagram. Here are some screenshots from a popular makeup application video post from the social media user, Rady, who used the Mercury Retrograde Palette as well but for a completely different look than the previous post. The Instagram account “GRWRADY” is an acronym for the popular social media term for beauty and fashion videos, “Get Ready With (Me/Name)…” since it shows someone getting ready by applying makeup. Many influencers are rising in popularity with their creative videos that they share on social media, similarly to how Huda Kattan got started in the industry with her makeup videos.


Cover Your Mouth, But Embellish Your Eyes

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many beauty trends have shifted. One trend is the importance of eye makeup since people’s mouths are covered when wearing face masks in public due to the mandate. With the lower half of faces concealed, makeup users are focusing on the upper half of their faces, especially their eyes. While this presents a challenge, it also gives beauty enthusiasts the chance to really practice their creativity to enhance their eyes. While lipstick trends have decreased, eye makeup use is still booming.

Quid Social can help you visualize themes during the COVID-19 pandemic using the NetBase Huda Beauty topic, applying the “Published Date” filter and setting the timeframe from March to the current date to focus on social media posts during the pandemic. Several of the themes that appear in the left-hand pane are related to eye makeup, as you can see in the image below. Some of the major themes are “Smokey Eye” and eyeshadow palettes, including Huda Beauty’s Rose Gold Palette as well as the Desert Dusk Palette. Social media users have been sharing their lovely makeup looks using these vibrant Huda Beauty palettes.

People have been going out less and staying home more this year, but staying in has fostered creativity for makeup users who can try colorful looks for fun without worrying about the judgment of others outside. Other themes are related to bridal makeup. This type of intel can give brands an idea of who uses their products and what types of events they are using the products for, such as makeup artists using Huda Beauty for brides on their wedding day.


Huda Beauty continues to grow as it has recently launched a line of perfume, called Kayali, and a line of skincare products, called Wishful. Huda Kattan’s success is a strong example for how influencers can capitalize on their large following and dive into several business ventures.

Huda swears by being as authentic as possible and her huge following has enjoyed that authenticity through the years. Huda Beauty is currently valued at over $1.2 billion as the brand continues to lure its fans with its trendsetting ways and high-quality, innovative products. Is your brand putting its best authentic self forward? Without consumer and market intelligence informing your strategy, you really can’t be sure! Reach out and we can take you on a personalized tour of both platforms to see what your brand is missing!

complete guide to influencer marketing

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