How Celebrity Makeup Artist Katie Jane Hughes Changed Her Life by Transitioning Her Career

In this series, Top 11, influential people with share 11 ways they take care of themselves including beauty, skincare, and aesthetics. Knowledge is power!

Katie Jane Hughes


Katie Jane Hughes is an addict — a makeup addict, that is. For as long as she can remember, the makeup artist has been obsessed with all things beauty, from the allure of a red lip to the flutter of thick, black mascara. “My mum was always very glamorous,” the 35-year-old British ex-pat says. “She used to be a singer, so it was kind of part of her everyday attire to transform into this queen of the stage — this disco diva almost — and seeing her captivate everybody’s attention captivated me from a young age.” 

When Hughes started using makeup herself, it became a tool of self-expression, and she found comfort in the power of a good blush or a strong brow. “People always complimented me as a makeup-wearer when I was a teenager, even though there were definitely moments when I thought, ‘Uh oh, shouldn’t have done that,’” she says with a giggle. “What really made me want to do it was seeing all of the magazines, like the editorial beauty world, and seeing all these fun things being worn by everyone, whether they were models or just normal people.” 

But Hughes was torn. “I wanted to be a singer, as well, just because of my mum, and I can sing a little bit,” she explains, admitting that it pulls on her heartstrings that she isn’t involved in the music industry today. “It was always going to be beauty or music.” She went to theatre school, but soon decided the academic world just wasn’t for her, and her mum suggested she get a job at a nail salon. 

“We come from a family of very working-class people getting their foot in the door,” Hughes explains. “My mum was basically like, ‘Go get a job in a nail shop and learn the craft, and then it’s something to fall back on.’” Hughes’ mother ended up being right: this job opened up a lot of doors. She began making a name for herself in London, where there weren’t many nail techs on the scene, and she started to work with photographers and makeup artists, assisting them. Hughes was doing well, but her heart was still set on makeup. “It actually made it quite hard to transition,” she says. “Once people know you as one thing, they only see you as that thing, and it’s very hard to be seen as something else in their eyes.” 

She decided to move to New York and arrived in the city in 2013, just as a certain photocentric social media platform was taking off. Hughes had just left a brand partnership that enforced a hardcore exclusive, and she was now free to talk — and post — about anything she wanted. “There was a bit of a caged animal that was let loose,” she says. “Once I left that brand and started posting about my own things, I started talking about all the things that I’d craved to talk about for the past few years, and it kind of just exploded. It went from zero to 100 in less than a couple of months.” 

Hughes’ Instagram® feed quickly became a go-to destination for fresh, approachable glam created in an editorial fashion — but with the real world in mind, always modeled on her own face. “The people who went to my account were really coming for that, and I was giving them the freedom or encouragement to try something that they might be scared to, ordinarily,” she says. She also believes the fact that she — an everyday woman — acting as her own model was part of the appeal of her feed. 

The makeup pro is careful that her feed reflects just how real she is. “I feel like I’ve never really gone towards Facetune®, and I’ve never really gone towards taking out the pores,” she explains. “The basis of what I created my account upon was editorial, realistic skin, not too cakey, not too heavy, never really baking or over-contouring.” She says she’ll occasionally erase a pimple or blemish if it’s distracting from the makeup, but if it’s just sitting there harmlessly, she won’t bother. “I do feel this sense of responsibility now,” she notes. “I’ve created this community within my space that always expects fresh skin from me, and I’m glad because I’m sure they will hold me accountable if I ever take it too far.”

She now has over 350K followers on the platform and posts photos of her makeup looks every day, each of which garners tens of thousands of likes. “It’s a no-brainer, because I’m doing my makeup daily anyway —  I love the ritual of it,” Hughes says. “So, for me to do that and then to shoot it at the same time actually makes more sense, because if I only storied the final makeup look, people would ask where the tutorial is.” 

Among her Instagram feed are also photos of her clients — Hailey Bieber, Ashley Graham, and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, just to name a few — alongside her editorial work in magazines like Glamour® and Harper’s Bazaar®, the pages of which led her as a young girl in Southport, England, to fall in love with makeup those many years ago. Read on for 11 skincare and beauty products and the medical aesthetics treatments that Hughes has relied on. 

Katie Jane Hughes


Elemis® Dynamic Resurfacing Peel Pads ($59): “I literally can’t live without the peel pads. They get rid of any dead skin on the surface of the face and really allow you to make the skin look its best. I use these in the morning right before I do my makeup, almost as my morning cleanser in a way.”

Weleda Skin Food® ($11): “Obviously, Weleda Skin Food is something that I’m never ever going to not have in my arsenal of products — in my personal and professional makeup kits. It’s just that product that gives you gleaming, glowing skin and almost a little bit of a highlight if you don’t want to put any makeup on.”

Injectable Wrinkle Reducers and Filler: “Whenever I have had injectables, I’ve gone to Dr. Shereene Idriss. I’ve done injectable wrinkle reducers and filler” 

[Editor’s note: Injectable wrinkle reducers temporarily smooth the look of moderate to severe wrinkles in certain areas of the face, including the forehead, frown lines, and crow’s feet; they should not be used more frequently than every three months. Injectable filler is a temporary treatment that adds volume to areas of the face such as the lips, cheeks, and laugh lines. Like any medical treatment, both injectable wrinkle reducers and injectable fillers have potential risks and side effects. Talk to a licensed provider to see if they’re right for you. And learn more now by chatting with a trained aesthetic specialist.]

LiveTinted® Huesticks® ($24 each): “I’m obsessed with the sticks from LiveTinted, Deepica Mutyala’s brand. They are so handy, because you can throw on a red lip, or you can color correct. You can throw on a peach lip and cheek, or nude lip and cheek. You can put them on your eyelids. I’m obsessed with anything multi-use, generally, just as a lazy person, and I like to be able to use one product for 15,000 things, so I love these.”

Amika:® Haute Mess® Texture Gloss ($25): “This is a styling gel, but it allows you to do a really slick, chic center-part low bun without any flyaways at all. And I actually apply it with an old kabuki brush. I put it on the brush and flatten all my flyaways out, which is a hairdressers’ trick.”

Elemis Pro-Collagen Rose Facial Oil ($79): “It’s like a dry oil, so it doesn’t really mess with the consistency of your makeup, but you can use it as a skin medium. I just use this in my routine as needed.”

Glossier® Cloud Paint® ($18): “Cloud Paint is one of my cult favorite things, too. I love how you can mix them all to create all these different colors. I use them without playing by the rules, but that’s also what Glossier as a brand is all about.”

Pixi® Beauty Balm ($22): “The Beauty Balm is a high-coverage foundation, but it has a crazy sheen to it, like an insane glow, which I love. I use this on its own, but then I use something less creamy on top.”

Byredo® 1996 Eau de Parfum ($285): “I’m a bit of a fragrance freak. I have like 20 or so fragrances consistently. I really, really love 1996 by Byredo. It’s probably one of the best fragrances I’ve ever owned. It’s really one of my favorite, favorite things.”

Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm ($64): “The cleansing balm is one of my favorite things. It’s just amazing, and I love it. I use it every night before I go to bed.”

Riki Loves Riki® By Glamcor® Mirror ($195): “I would definitely consider the Riki Mirror a favorite product because I’m never without it, either when I’m at home or when I travel. It’s one of those things that you wouldn’t think of as a beauty product, but it really is. I can’t do much without it.”

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