Gabrielle Union Gets Candid About Relaunching Her Hair-Care Line: 'We Had to Humble Ourselves'
The actress and author is bringing back Flawless by Gabrielle Union on August 3
Sheltering in place hasn’t stopped Gabrielle Union from making bold career moves. Over the last few months, the multi-hyphenate star has put the finishing touches on the relaunch of her hair-care line, Flawless by Gabrielle Union. If the name sounds familiar, Union originally launched the line in 2017, but after taking a step back to assess everything from accessibility to ingredients, the line – which will be available on Amazon on August 3 – is better than ever before.
Speaking to PEOPLE, Union and her longtime hairstylist and co-creator Larry Sims got real about the business, and what it took to formulate a product — make that 12 products — they were proud of.
When it came time to launch the line nearly two and a half years ago, timing was not on Union’s side. Though the actress had created a collection that was a true labor of love, “multiple rounds” of IVF had left her with “massive” bald spots on front of her head.
“I felt like such a fraud selling products,” Union recalls. “I literally didn’t have hair. But, our investors were pushing us to launch, so I was put in a position where I had to wear wigs and clip-ins. It felt so inauthentic to me. For all those women who’ve dealt with hair loss or balding, it’s debilitating and humiliating, and there’s a lot of shame involved.”
Union powered through, but as her brand tried to find its footing, the actress started to see cracks beneath the surface.
“We were targeting way too broad of an audience when we should have been specifically targeting our Black, textured hair audience. We were not Black-owned – and it showed,” she says.
Union also felt that “the prices were way too high, and the products were not available in all communities."
Innovation was another issue. “We needed to lean into newer technology.”
Says Union, “We had to humble ourselves and say, ‘Are we doing okay? Yes. But this can be done better.'"
For the entrepreneur, that meant “wrestling back” control of her company.
“That was the first order of business: restructuring and bringing on Larry [Sims], the man who’s not only been one of my best friends for a very long time, but a man who’s been in the trenches with me, nursing my hair back to health."
The two became majority owners, and the makeover began, led by Sims’ “experience and expertise, Union says.
Explains Sims, “I cried with Gabrielle when her hair fell out. I’m bald, but it felt like my hair was falling out. For me to be responsible for her hair, and to see what IVF did to it, it just really put a fire inside me to come up with products that reinvigorate and ignite hair growth.
The mission: incorporating natural ingredients, produce “salon-quality products at affordable prices and available to as many people as possible,” the actress says.
Impossible? Not if you’re Gabrielle Union.
The collection, priced $4-10, consists of a shampoo, conditioner, cleansing conditioner, plus an assortment of treatments and stylers.
Union’s must-have? The 3 Minute Restoring Conditioner (above, $10). “[Larry] and I are both kind of obsessed with it. It’s so silky and yummy, and gives your hair that immediate snap back,” she says of the silicone-free formula.
Meanwhile, Sims loves the Restoring Exotic Oil Treatment (below, $10). “It’s delicious! It’s so unbelievably light, you are able to pack it on without it weighing your hair down. And it’s great for protective styles. So, if you’re in a weave or wearing braids, this oil is amazing,” he says of the avocado and jojoba oil blend.
The pro continues, “I'm just really proud.”
Adds Union, “Now I have my hair back, and a line that’s accessible to our Black, textured audience. I think that we can see the massive difference with this relaunch. It’s so exciting.”
For more on the star and where she finds her incredible strength, pick up a copy of this week's PEOPLE.