Katie Jane Hughes Is Bringing Joy Back Into Makeup

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Photography courtesy of KJH.Brand

“It’s really humbling that people have a certain level of comfort with me,” says Instagram’s favourite makeup artist.

“I’ve realized that education is my sweet spot. People seem to like the way I break things down,” says makeup artist Katie Jane Hughes. “I make it easy for them to wrap their heads around concepts so they can be successful with the makeup look they’re doing.” Indeed, the England-born, New York-raised makeup artist is clear, concise, and almost impossibly helpful in the way she explains makeup tips.

Hughes is calling from her home in Brooklyn, and her face appears on my screen while she’s mid-makeup application, applying the finishing touches to her radiant skin (courtesy of her very first product launch, KJH.Brand’s Hyper Shine High Lite Kit, made up of an illuminating pigment available in four shades, a clear serum and a brush) first thing on a cold Monday morning.

We chat about makeup (duh) and I tell her I’m having trouble with the lasting power of the cream and sheer tint products in my routine. “I need to ask some questions,” she says. “First, what concealer are you using?” I tell her and after a second of rustling sounds behind the camera, Hughes holds up a handful of products, including the very concealer I’ve just named.

And we’re off. Suddenly she is swatching and blending, demonstrating each step on her face and on the back of her hands as she goes.

“The reason I wanted to create a brand in the first place was because not a lot of brands are actually educating consumers on how to use their products,” says Hughes. “There are so many nuances to why makeup works and doesn’t work. Every brand is like, ‘Here’s a mascara. You already know how to put this on, don’t you?’ But do people really know? Like, if someone’s mascara is transferring under their eyes, is it the mascara that’s the problem? Or is it the eye cream they’re using?”

Ironically, Hughes says her “lightbulb moment” occurred when someone sent her a DM asking for a tutorial on how to put mascara on. “I replied and said, ‘Wait, what do you mean?’” laughs Hughes. “They were like, ‘You know, how to really put mascara on. How do you get to the root of the lash? How do you make them fan out?’”

The encounter was a reminder that when it comes to makeup (and most other things) there truly are no dumb questions. Her willingness to roll up her sleeves and really meet people where they are in their makeup routines and knowledge level — so that she can help them determine their best course of action — has undoubtedly contributed to her impressive social media following (884,000 on Instagram and 180,000 on TikTok).

Devoid of pretense, Hughes’ approach to showcasing even the most editorial makeup looks and techniques is refreshingly patient and informative. Remember your favourite high school math teacher who somehow explained calculus in a way that made it just click, after no one else could? Hughes is that teacher in the world of makeup. “It’s really humbling that people have a certain level of comfort with me,” says Hughes. “I think education and helping people really understand how to use a product is advocating for them.”

And if you’ve come to Hughes’ page for the makeup tutorials, you’ve probably stayed for the playfulness and overall positive vibes. This is at least in part because, like many beauty industry pros, Hughes’ own history with makeup began with her mother. A stay-at-home mom during the week and a singer on weekends, Hughes’ mom would transform every Thursday night.

“Watching that transformation from her being mom, into this glamazon wearing a beautiful bold red lip — perfectly applied without a mirror, by the way — loads of bronzer, and the blackest, thickest mascara… it was just very iconic,” she says. “I understood from a young age how makeup can transform and completely change your mood, your energy, everything.”

Shop the products used in some of Hughes’ makeup looks below.

Rose Inc Solar Infusion Moisturizing Cream Bronzer

A cream bronzer formulated with rose oil and squalane to hydrate and revitalize skin, plus tourmaline and quartz so you get a luminous finish without any shimmer, this is an especially great pick for winter, when skin could always use some extra hydration and radiance.

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Tower 28 Beauty BeachPlease Lip + Cheek Cream Blush in “Happy Hour”

The TikTok-famous multitasking balm is available in eight gorgeous, versatile shades and can be used on lips and cheeks for an effortless hint of colour.

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Rituel de Fille The Black Orb Eyeliner

This rich cream formula is made with natural ingredients and provides a semi-matte finish in the blackest of black shades. Blend it out for a more diffused finish or apply with a small angled brush for an extra-sharp, precise wing.

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Make Up For Ever Artist Color Pencil Brow, Eye & Lip Liner in “Endless Cacao”

The perfect brown shade that can be used on your brows, eyes or lips, this is a makeup kit staple.

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KJH.Brand Hyper Shine High Lite Kit in “Lite Gold”

Hughes’ famously luminous skin is thanks to KJH.Brand’s Hyper Shine High Lite Kits. Shop from the four shades available (bronze, copper, gold and pink) and prepare to glow like never before.

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