Huda Beauty has been spearheading a new age of makeup and skincare since its inception in 2013. What many may not know, however, is that Huda Kattan's sister Mona helped co-found the blog-turned-best-selling-brand. In 2018, the sisters decided to take on the world of fragrance, with the launch of their perfume brand KAYALI. Distinctly unique from Huda Beauty, KAYALI is its own brand and has its own messaging, focusing on the art of layering fragrances.
Huda Beauty first launched their fragrance line with Collection 01, which included four fragrances: Vanilla, Citrus, Musk, and Elixir. All four are designed to be layered, and the second fragrance collection is very much in the works and set to launch soon.
A perfume obsessive, Mona Kattan has around 1,000 fragrances in her personal collection, and her dedicated involvement in KAYALI is clear. It sounds as though, for her, creating a fragrance line was a passion project, and one she had dreamed of for years.
I caught up with Mona to talk all things KAYALI, perfume, makeup, and skincare...
What made you want to become involved with fragrance, particularly when compared with products like skincare and makeup?
I’ve always been really passionate about fragrance. I actually got a part-time job when I was a teenager just so I could start building my collection. I had dreamed about launching my own fragrance for a long time, but it took a while for me to persuade my sister, Huda, to begin creating the collection since it’s pretty difficult to sell perfume on social media.
It’s a very experiential product and it wasn’t until I shared the layering concept that Huda was really sold on the idea. She loved the idea of creating a collection that demystified the concept of layering and brought it to life in a very modern way. The fragrance category definitely comes with its marketing challenges but we’re passionate enough learn as we go until we master it.
How did you decide on your packaging and the type of bottles you use?
We wanted to create a modern interpretation of Middle Eastern fragrance bottles, which are generally very ornate and resemble jewels. We played around with various layering techniques such as multi-faceting, multi-angle, refraction and reflection and chose a warm colour palette to bring the brand’s Arabic heritage to life in a way that also symbolised our layering concept. The perfume topper is where we really incorporated the jewel-like design to really tie it all together.
What are your favourite kind of smells and the smells that inspire your fragrances?
There are so many! I consider scents as bookmarks to my life — they can take me back to a specific place and time. I love their ability to transform you. The fragrances were inspired by scents that stood out on their own but that also complemented one another when layering to create something totally unique.
What are your favourite notes and ingredients?
That’s a tough one — I love rich, oud-y smells but also love soft, floral scents. Jasmin is definitely one of my favourite florals, but my fragrance preference is very dependent on my mood. Huda will tell you that you can’t really pin me down to one specific scent — I change up my fragrances constantly and love to experiment!
What are your top tips for making fragrance last as long as it can?
Vaseline! It provides the perfect base to extend the life of your favourite scents. Apply it to any area that you would spray perfume and then spritz your favourite scent. I always put it on the back of my knees, my wrists and my neck. It’ll last for hours and help you smell beautiful for the whole day. If you don’t have Vaseline, any moisturiser would work!
You have an incredible 1,000 fragrances. Which three could you absolutely not live without?
I’ve been wearing Watch by M. Micallef for about 15 years now! I was gifted it for my 19th birthday and then became addicted to it instantly. I ended up buying it for myself when I was 21 and it was the first expensive, niche product that I ever bought myself. I actually had to save money in university just to afford it — that’s how committed I was.
Baccarat Rouge 540 by Maison Francis Kurkdjan is incredible, too. He is a genius when it comes to perfume and I absolutely love him. Baccarat Rouge 540 is seriously one of the most beautiful perfumes. It’s filled with notes of Jasmine blossoms and musks and it’s amazing.
There is a new KAYALI fragrance that is a part of our next collection and I haven’t been able to live without it for the last 6 months. I actually started wearing it when I first met my boyfriend, Dom, so there are a lot of great memories I associate with it now. KAYALI Collection 2 is incredible and we really hope we’ll be able to share it with you by the end of this year.
Which of your perfumes evoke the strongest memories?
The jasmine notes in KAYALI Musk really reminds me of my mom. I remember when I was younger my mom had this really beautiful Jasmine-scented perfume that she’d always wear. It wasn’t anything expensive or branded, but I always remember that smell and I associate it with her every time I smell Jasmine.
In terms of makeup, what are three things you could not live without?
- Huda Beauty Power Bullet (in 'Interview'): I’m obsessed with our new Power Bullets! They really are the most comfortable matte lipsticks I’ve ever tried. My go-to shade is Interview because it goes with absolutely everything and is kind of like an enhanced, deeper nude for me. I love it!
- Marc Jacobs Beauty Velvet Noir Major Volume Mascara is one of my staples. I’ve been using this mascara for years and it gives me super bold lashes and really lasts throughout the day. It also doesn’t clump them up, which I love.
- MAC The Powder Blush in Fleur Power is my favourite. Fleur Power is a beautiful coral pink and it works really well with my skin tone.
What about skincare products?
- I cannot live without Neutrogena Makeup Wipes! They just make my whole night time skin routine easier. I’ll just use this before I cleanse and tone my skin.
- The Shiseido Bio-Performance Glow Revival Eye Treatment is unreal. It’s actually one of the first beauty products I’ve ever bought, and I’ve been using it for the last 14 years. It really helped remove the dark circles under my eyes; the change was definitely noticeable.
- I love the Guerlain Orchidee Imperiale Imperial Oil. It’s super moisturising without making you feel super oily or greasy. I use it day and night and it has really helped repair my skin. I have been using the line for so long and I actually went to Switzerland and learned the science behind the orchids they use in this product. They put so much effort into their entire line and I really respect them for it.
Follow Mona on Instagram @monakattan