Thursday, August 11, 2022

Gabrielle Union on Ending Hair Relaxer Treatments: ‘Hardest Breakup Ever’

Gabrielle Union in black
Gabrielle Union, Twitter

*Gabrielle Union opens up in the latest issue of PEOPLE about her haircare journey and the relaunch of her product line, Flawless by Gabrielle Union.

Speaking to the publication ahead of her participation in Sally Beauty’s first-ever roundtable discussion, with host Taraji P. Henson, Union said she began using chemical treatments on her hair, such as relaxer, in order to “fit in” with societal standards when it comes to beauty. 

Per People, “Union began using the treatment, starting at age eight and not stopping until 15 years later.”

“I didn’t care about my hair health,” she tells the publication. “I would try to leave the relaxer on as long as possible… It was about assimilating and trying to look and appear appropriate and attractive. I wanted that kind of validation that young Black girls get when you fully assimilate and you move away from Blackness towards something that is a little bit more destabilizing and not really affirming at all.”

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Although Union was able to “fit in,” she knew something wasn’t right.

“To constantly be questioning yourself and not feeling worthy or good enough, I knew I needed to free myself of that and the first step was letting my relaxer go,” Union tells PEOPLE.

Union admits, however, that breaking up with hair relaxer was no easy task. 

“It felt like one of the hardest breakups ever,” Union says, later joking: “I’ve been married twice, and I feel my breakup with relaxers was harder than my divorce.” Union was married to retired NFL star Chris Howard from 2001 to 2006. She married current husband Dwyane Wade in 2014, and the couple welcomed their first child together — daughter Kaavia James in 2018. 

Union launched her Flawless by Gabrielle Union in 2017 and re-launched the haircare line in 2020 with new and improved formulations. 

“It was a necessary journey,” Union says of relaunching Flawless. “I wanted to make sure that we are not exploiting our community. I wanted to make sure that the products work, that we took out the bad ingredients that are super harmful and toxic to our bodies. We took those out and made sure that we were not only Black-owned, but Black-led. We did not overlook any part of our community in the creation of our business and moving forward. We just wanted to make sure that Black folks’ needs were being centered in the whole process.”

The product line includes conditioners, shampoos, hydrating sprays, restorative masks and more — all under $10. 

“I was able to convince everyone that we should lower our profit margins, so that we can make sure that these products stay affordable. Then, partnering with Sally for distribution is huge because they understand our mission and goal. It’s just been amazing,” Union says.

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is an entertainment reporter with over 15 years of experience working in the film industry in areas including production and post-production, marketing, distribution, and acquisitions. She has worked for legendary film producer Roger Corman, Quentin Tarantino's production team at Miramax, the late Larry Flynt, MTV/ VH1, Hallmark Channel, Paramount, Jim Henson Co., Parade Magazine, and various LA-based companies representing above-the-line talent.




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