Katie Jane Hughes' Secret for Glassy, Glowy Skin Is Skipping Morning Skincare

SPF is the exception.

katie jane
(Image credit: Future)

Welcome to Beauty Around the Clock, Marie Claire's weekly peek into the daily lives of some of the most game-changing men and women in their industries. Ever wonder how they get it all done in a day? Here's your answer. 

With close to one million followers, a star-studded client roster, and a new (yet beyond incredible) brand under her belt, Katie Jane Hughes is a busy makeup artist. She’s the queen of glowy, glossy skin and never shies away from a bold eye or lip—regardless of the occasion. 

Her love for beauty isn’t anything new. It started at an early age—thanks to her mother. “My mom was a singer and she would just transform from this mom wearing a caftan around the house to this queen of sequins and shoulder pads,” Hughes exclusively tells Marie Claire. “Her hair would be back combed, she had the thickest mascara, most pigmented red lipstick, and a shitload of bronzer. It allowed me to see from a very young age how empowering your beauty routine can be.” 

Since then, Hughes has made a successful career empowering women vis a vis makeup application. She teaches her technique on Instagram and has (finally!!) released a long-requested line of customizable high-shine highlighters. To get the scoop on what Hughes uses on her own skin—and score some coveted makeup application tips along the way—read ahead. The beauty guru is sharing the ins and outs of her surprisingly simple routine, below.

Rise & Shine

I have a thyroid disease called Hashimotos so I take a pill called Levothyroxine with as much water as I can. Then I try and wait a good hour before a cup of coffee. 

Morning Maintenance

My morning starts the night before. That is actually the most important part of my skincare routine—that cleansing routine before I go to bed. It sets me up for the next day. In the morning, I pretty much see what's happening. If I'm wearing a retinol, I'll wash that off in the morning by just splashing it off with a little bit of a gentle cleanser. I really like the Fresh soy cleanser. Then I pretty much do a little spritz of toner or water on a cotton round and wipe any oils away. I’ll do an SPF, too. 

I really love the one from La Roche Posay. It’s called Helio B5, and you can’t get it in the US, which is actually really annoying. I also love the Glossier one, it’s one of my favorites, but it runs out very fast. If I'm going out and about my day and I want to wear makeup, SPF is the most important step just to make sure I'm protected. I find that that gives me a primed, lubricant layer underneath makeup. If I do too many skincare steps underneath that, then I lose everything. 

Power Start

I'm very boring and I will have a cup of coffee or a matcha and then I will have a piece of toast with a fried egg on top. It is my  absolute go-to, and I'm very passionate about my fried egg on toast. It's my favorite breakfast food. It just brings me so much joy. A jammy fried egg with sea salt on top—delicious.

Signature Makeup

Without fail, I do my eyebrows everyday. I use a brow pen Bodyography. It’s my newest favorite. It's called Epic Brow. It has a brow gel on one end and a flicky pen on the other. For me, doing my eyebrows is like most people brushing their hair. I pretty much always do highlighter without fail. The KJH Hyper Shine Highlight Kits gives me almost a concealer effect by way of reflecting the light away from the imperfections. Highlighter can also be a complexion adjacent product, very much so depending on how you use it. I wouldn't put it under my eyes really, but I put it in areas where I just want to look dewy and radiant. My favorite shade currently is bronze because I feel like my skin's looking a bit drab and a little bit flat. The bronze is just giving me a little bit of life and a little bit of color and a little bit of a boost. 

Sometimes that's all the makeup that I might need. By doing my brows and doing my highlighter, I then can decide if I want to do full foundation. My everyday look is a bit of brow, a bit of a highlight, a little bit of a lip and a cheek combo, powder where I need it, mascara, and a little bit of lip liner to go with whatever lip color I've got in the center. Once I went to Trader Joe's with a face full of literal Swarovski crystals though. They were freckly, but they were all colors. I just spent three hours doing this, I wasn't taking them off for anyone.

Fitness Fix

I like to walk as many places as I can. I was doing Pilates for a while and then I got really sick with strep throat and a cold at the same time. It was horrendous. After that, I've found it really hard to get my energy levels back up. 

I actually have a really great trainer named Mitch Winters who comes over sometimes and trains with me. He's in Brooklyn and he's amazing. He gives you a really great 45 minute circuit. When I'm not working out on any given day, I'll just walk as much as I can or bike around. But my bike is electric so that's a bit of a cop out. 

Self Care Ritual

This might be controversial, but I like being on my phone and in my DMs. Just chatting with my community brings me back to why I am doing this in the first place. It slows me down because it physically makes me need to stop. I very much like to try and do 20 things at once. I'm that person in the nail salon sending voice notes to people because I can't leave my phone for five minutes. Being still with my phone, even though it might seem like work to many, is not work for me. It's almost like I'm just connecting back with my community. 

Signature Scent

My signature scent that I always go back to is probably Debaser from D.S. & Durga. It's a fig scent and it's probably one of my favorites. I’m obsessed with the brand—I think the founders are geniuses. They once did this Johnny Walker candle collab and I’m desperate for them to do it in a fragrance.

Cheap But Chic

I love a lot of drugstore concealers, but I would say my go-to that I know I can trust every single time is L’Oreal Voluminous in Carbon Black. 

Hair Help

I wash my hair once a week and most of the time I let it air dry with a hair cream. My absolute favorite hair cream that I use right now is called SKIMDO. It's a black-owned brand from this British girl named Kim. She's amazing. It's a sticky, gorgeous, emollient cream that gives you hair a hold when it air dries. I wash my hair with either the Roz shampoo and conditioner from Mara Roszak or Act + Acre. I'm very, very pro using brands that are founded by other creatives in their respective field. I just think that we bring a bit of a different sort of energy to our product and brand.

Beauty Icon

I've never actually said this before, but I honestly think it was my nan. She passed away about 15 years ago, but even up until the point in which she left us, she was as glamorous as ever. My mom always used to have to go over and back comb her hair for her. She would always wear a pearly pink lipstick. Her nails were always done. She was always done—always. There's beauty in that. There’s also beauty in just being okay with not being in makeup, but my nan was always like, oh don't look at me. I've not got my face on. She was just a glam nan. 

Backup Career

I think I would either be in music or I would be designing footwear or jewelry. 

Daily Playlist

Anything Depeche Mode. We went to see them at Barclays and it was such a great concert. I have one of those obsessive personalities that just plays the same song 20 times over.  

P.M. Routine

If I don't cleanse before I go to bed, whether I've been wearing any makeup or not, my skin just doesn't have the right sort of spring to it. Cleansing with a good oil or balm cleanser and just using a flannel or a face cloth to get a little bit of abrasion gets rid of the dead skin. It truly sets me up for success. I'll use a serum or a retinol and then maybe I'll lock it in with a bit of an occlusive cream for that instant angel type of texture. 

Samantha Holender
Beauty Editor

Samantha Holender is the Beauty Editor at Marie Claire, where she reports on the best new launches, dives into the science behind skincare, and keeps up with the latest trends in the beauty space. She has previously written for Us Weekly, Popsugar, Makeup.com, Skincare.com, and Philadelphia Wedding. Follow her on Instagram @samholender.