Why is Huda Beauty being boycotted? Here’s a breakdown of founder Huda Kattan’s numerous controversies

By Abby Amoakuh

Updated Jan 5, 2024 at 03:25 PM

Reading time: 4 minutes

Everyone who follows drama in the online beauty community has most definitely heard the name Huda Kattan before. The Iraqi-American beauty blogger and makeup mogul has been a key player in the industry for more than a decade now and was listed on the BBC 100 Women 2023 due to her many accomplishments as an influencer and businesswoman—no biggie.

However, her life-changing makeup hacks and bronzer collections that set the internet on fire aren’t all that people know Huda from. The beauty blogger has also stirred up considerable controversy in the past few years, leading to very public feuds with peers such as Jeffree Star and James Charles.

Most recently, Kattan faced a fresh wave of backlash for her pro-Palestinian comments regarding the Israel-Hamas war. But before we get into that, let’s catch you up with a quick recap of Huda’s murky past.

Why is Huda Beauty being boycotted?

In 2018, Huda was called out by Jeffree Star and several other members of the beauty community for allegedly stealing the concept for her Easy Bake Loose Baking & Setting Powder from a small independent brand called Beauty Bakerie. Star posted a video in which he compared screenshots of Huda’s collection to Beauty Bakerie’s and stated: “I’m all for people being inspired by other brands but when you literally steal the exact concept and photoshoot from an indie brand—how do you sleep at night?”

Beauty Bakerie has since come forward to address the claims and stated in an Instagram post directly naming Huda: “Always know there’s enough cake for everyone. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. That’s why we’re better, not bitter.”

 

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A post shared by Beauty Bakerie Cosmetics Brand (@beautybakeriemakeup)

Still, when Huda sent Star a PR package in October 2018, he tweeted: “Tell Huda Beauty to f*ck off and use products from someone with a soul.” So there is definitely no lost love between those two…

Then Kattan was put under the microscope due to allegations of racism. Oh boy.

Is Huda Beauty racist?

In 2017, beauty influencer Jackie Aina critiqued Huda for pandering to women of colour with a new inclusive shade range and questioned if the beauty mogul was actually incorporating them into Huda Beauty’s aesthetics and brand creation. “That’s amazing—but are you going to put these women on your Instagram page, though?” She asked as she pointed to the deepest-complected women on the foundation’s packaging. “The women that are darker than tan? The women that are darker than Beyoncé?” Many netizens agreed with her, noting the absence of darker complexions on Huda Beauty’s Instagram.

Fast forward to a year later, when the makeup artist was called out for advising women to bleach their skin, more specifically, their vulva. I am not making this up, I swear. Kattan shared tips on lightening vulvas with chemical peels and lemon juice on her blog. Needless to say her opinion wasn’t very popular online…

Is Huda Kattan homophobic?

Then there are accusations of homophobia, of course. Without delving too deeply into it, in the past, Huda has faced controversy for removing pro-LGBTQIA+ posts from the Huda Beauty’s Instagram page during Pride Month, using derogatory terms such as “f*ggot” in old tweets and comments, and excluding men from the beauty community by not featuring or collaborating with any male makeup aficionados.

Huda, allegedly, claimed that her selective posting of queer men and LGBTQIA+ issues was due to content restrictions in Dubai, where she and her company are based. Nevertheless, netizens were more than unsatisfied with this explanation and attributed this failure to a lack of effort.

Since these controversies, it should be noted that Huda Beauty has visibly increased the number of men and people of colour featured on its social media pages and advertisements. Nevertheless, Huda still frequently manages to upset her fans, for instance, by trolling their makeup videos like she did earlier in 2023 or posting a series of Black Lives Matter-inspired makeup looks that fans understandably branded as “inappropriate.”

Is Huda Kattan/Huda Beauty pro-Palestine?

Fast forward to the past few weeks, in which Huda has posted multiple videos and statements in support of Palestine.

 

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A post shared by Huda (@huda)

 

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A post shared by People for Palestine (@people.forpalestine)

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Huda (@huda)

It didn’t take long before one of her Israeli followers replied under one of Huda’s Instagram posts: “I don’t know if you noticed, but Israelis from all over the world love you and your products. With most of their money, you chose Gaza. So remember this as soon as no Israeli buys from you again, anywhere in the world. And it’s a shame because we buy a lot.” According to the screenshot of a now-deleted reply, Kattan answered: ”I don’t want blood money.” And the pot was stirred…

Kattan received further backlash for posting content that contained scripture expressing hostility toward the “children of Israel.” One post read: “You will certainly cause corruption in the land twice and you will become extremely arrogant,” while another stated: “We would send against you some of our servants of great might, who would ravage your homes. This would be a warning fulfilled.” This same passage was quoted by Hezbollah, a Lebanese Shia Islamist political party and militant group that has involved itself in the war and is trading fire with Israel over the Lebanese border.

It should be noted that the Quran and other religious scriptures from Islam aren’t any more or less antisemitic than the Bible, for instance. At the time of writing, antagonism and competition between different religious belief systems were quite natural, which is why passages like these occur across multiple religious texts. However, as political tensions between Israel and Arabic countries intensified in recent years, many have referred to controversial and outdated passages, or taken these out of context to justify hostilities.

Shortly after Kattan’s postings, calls and petitions for the brand’s boycott followed from her pro-Israeli fan and client base. More than 25,000 people have signed a Change.org petition calling for Sephora to remove Huda Beauty products from its US stores. “I can’t stand behind her anymore,” said one New York City-based makeup artist to the New York Post. “I have spoken with a lot of makeup artists and they are all disgusted and said ‘time to purge our kits’.”

However, others praised Kattan online, vowing to buy her company’s products due to her vocal support of Palestine:

https://www.tiktok.com/@raniakt82/video/7291285356459085087
@sincerelyawa

#greenscreen #fyp #hudabeauty #sephora #freegaza🇵🇸 #celebrity

♬ original sound - Sincerely Awa
@onlynourr___

These past few days I have been off of social media and disturbed by what the media and propaganda are doing. It is heartbreaking to see thousands of children and innocent civiliians in Palestine killed and the most I can do is educate, advocate, and donate. And as a newbie on social media I also wanna use this platform to fight for human rights and humanity. I hope this reaches out to all audience. Free free palestine #freepalistine🇵🇸 #palestine #freepalestine #freepalestinetillitsbackwards #palestine #palestinewillbefree #hudabeauty #hudakattan

♬ dammi falastini by mohammad assaf - nora

Nevertheless, other netizens called out the moral double standard of forgetting the beauty blogger’s controversial past due to one isolated political stance:

Kattan founded Huda Beauty in 2013 with her two sisters Mona and Alya and her husband, Christopher. She is currently worth an estimated $560 million, with Huda Beauty being worth more than an estimated $1.25 billion.

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