My Life In Beauty: Katie Jane Hughes
My Life In Beauty: Katie Jane Hughes

My Life In Beauty: Katie Jane Hughes

If you’re into beauty, Katie Jane Hughes needs little introduction. A celebrity and editorial make-up artist, her creative approach has earned her more than 800,000 followers on Instagram, and plenty more on TikTok and YouTube. Best known for her love of colour and glossy skin, she’s made it her mission to help others have fun with make-up. Here, she shares her career highlights, advice for aspiring artists and desert-island products.

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My love of beauty comes from my mum. She was always on stage when I was younger and would go from being a mum-of-four at home to this amazing singer at night. The transformation left me in awe – think big bold red lipstick, lashings of mascara and bronzer. She became a new version of herself and so, from a young age, I realised how powerful make-up could be.

I am a big believer in experimentation. I’ve always been taught to try stuff – if you don’t, you won’t ever know what you like. That goes for anything in life, but especially beauty. Experiment and see what fits – don’t dismiss things. 

The first look I ever created was a bold eye. I don’t have a photo of it as it was years ago now, but I remember it was purple and green blended together. I was working at an Estée Lauder counter and really enjoyed the process of mixing and matching the tones together. I loved the creativity and the ability to see what colours worked with one another.

When time is of the essence, DOUBLE UP. Use your lipstick as a blusher, or your concealer as an eyeshadow and put powder on top. MIX & MATCH EVERYTHING.

You’ll never find me without Bioderma’s Micellar Water. It’s one of my favourite products of all time. I always keep Laura Mercier’s Camouflage Concealer and Translucent Setting Powder handy, and I love Glossier’s Stretch Concealer – it has a completely different texture and is so easy to blend. My kit is also full of neutral-toned lipsticks with cool, warm and pink hues so I have something for all skin tones. It’s also essential to have a good mascara – it can make or break a look.

A soft pink eye and a bold red lip is my favourite look. I love the contrast of these two shades. I often find the colours that work in fashion textiles work well in make-up – think orange and navy, and orange with khaki green. It sounds like they wouldn’t go together but trust me, they do. Impactful, but in a subtle way.

It’s important to start with less. My number-one make-up tip would be to work with a small amount of product, then add to it very gradually. If you over apply, it’s so hard to take it away, whereas gradual application gives you control and makes you the artist. 

A career high was when Rosie Huntington-Whiteley messaged me on Instagram. It was about six years ago, and she told me she loved my work and wanted to collaborate when she was next in New York, or if I was ever in LA. A couple of months later she hired me to do her make-up for an event in the city and the rest is history. I was so honoured to work on the first Rose Inc shoot with her – we created the looks together based on what she liked on my Instagram. The confidence she had in me really helped me grow. 

NARS’s Dragon Girl Lipstick is my favourite red ever. It suits everyone – and I’m not just saying that. It has raspberry undertones that adjust nicely. If you’ve never tried it before, you must. 

I find all my inspiration in colour. I love seeing what colour combinations work together and putting together a look that’s a little bit different. I once cycled through London and saw two neighbouring homes in Notting Hill that were completely different colours, but it just worked. I also once opened my tumble dryer and found three shades popped out – red, pink and maroon. I remember immediately creating a look based on these tones. There is inspiration everywhere.

Concealer, blush, a nude lip and a soft eyeliner flick is my go-to look. If I want to feel like my best self, I always go back to the basics. I love a beige, taupe lip liner, and I only ever use a bit of concealer where it’s needed. I love creating fresh, dewy skin on myself too – it just looks so much healthier than lots of foundation.

When time is of the essence, double up. I am often asked how to create looks at speed and the answer is to get your products working harder. Use your lipstick as a blusher, or your concealer as an eyeshadow and put powder on top. Keep it simple but mix and match everything – if something says it’s for use on your cheeks only, it doesn’t mean you can’t use it in other areas. Just remember to start with small, light layers – over-applying will only slow you down.

Good skin prep is the key to good make-up. But what the prep looks like should be based on your individual skin type, where you live and the climate. I don’t consider myself a skin expert, but I do know how to prep my skin for make-up with the right products – mainly with light serums and exfoliating pads that give good glow. I don’t like things to move under make-up, so it’s usually just the basics with some SPF, then I will indulge my skin more at night. 

London is one of my favourite places to shop for make-up. I like to go to the old-school stores, like Guru Make-up Emporium. It’s one of the best places to find hidden treasures – the types of things you wouldn’t get anywhere else. It’s great for anyone interested in creating bolder looks – the glitter selection is incredible.

Jennifer Aniston is my dream client. The day she followed me back on Instagram, I had a meltdown. I am the biggest Friends fan and she’s such a cool person – I would love to work with her one day.

SPF, lipstick and facial water is all I would need on a desert island. As I said earlier, lipstick can be used on the cheeks as well, and I love a refreshing facial water – not only for hydration, but for good glow. 

RESPECT other people’s beauty decisions. Everyone should be able to do what they please in PURSUIT OF THEIR OWN HAPPINESS.

The one piece of advice I’d pass onto others in this industry is read the room. It’s such an important skill to be able to understand the energy of the space you’re walking into. If you’re about to do the make-up of someone who is quieter that morning, don’t go in like a bull in a china shop. Walk in and assess. Remember, you’re in someone’s space, you need to mimic that person’s level – especially if you’ve been hired to make someone feel their best.

If you want to become a make-up artist, just keep going. Do as much as you can in the sense of assisting and learning. Everything in this business is learnt on the job, so get your foot in the door and work up the ladder. Take it slow – and make sure you help others along the way.

Finally, respect other people’s beauty decisions. Everyone should be able to do what they please in pursuit of their own happiness – there’s no need for people to say you should or shouldn’t do Botox, for example. Right now, I am doing Invisalign and I get a lot of messages saying, “Oh, but I like your teeth as they are.” It’s kind, but I am straightening them to keep on top of my dental health. Plus, I’ve had these teeth for 35 years, it’s time to change them up and that’s okay. If I am privileged to make it to 80 and I want to look like Jane Fonda – a little tighter, lifted and fabulous – then that’s fine. Don’t judge anyone; it makes you uglier on the inside.

Follow @KatieJaneHughes for more beauty advice & tutorials


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