By Bella Cacciatore, GLAMOUR
Gabrielle Union couldn’t have a more perfect name. The actor understands that the most important part of her job is not the glitz and glam (though she’s pretty incredible at that part too) but the power of unity. Throughout her career, she’s made it a point to uplift others—especially other Black women—through charity work, her production company I’ll Have Another, and her platform, which she uses to speak out against racism in the industry.
Union’s latest project is participating on panel of Black female founders hosted by Taraji P. Henson and Sally Beauty on February 22. The roundtable will feature not only the two celebrity brand owners, but the founders of smaller hair brands including The Doux, True + Pure Texture, and Mielle Organics. It may seem strange that these women who are technically competitors are coming together, but according to Union, at the end of the day, it’s bigger than selling shampoo and edge control.
“When I started my hair line, one of the first people to reach out was Taraji,” Union tells Glamour. “She was like, ‘Send me products. I’ll promote it.’ And always in the back of your mind, you’re like, But you have a hair line—are you sure?” But then Henson pointed out: Union had been one of the very first people to post Henson’s line when it launched. “That’s what we do because there’s enough space for all of us. And so we’re like, ‘Okay, how do we take what we do for each other, and expand that?’ And so, at Taraji’s behest, we created this roundtable of founders.
“You just wish that you could have done things sooner to make sure that everyone got included in these kinds of projects,” Union continues. “But what I love about how Taraji and I have always moved through Hollywood and the world, is this world is big enough for all of us to thrive. And sometimes when we put ourselves or we get put in little boxes, we can’t always see what the others are doing, or what they’ve demanded and gotten, or what worked, or why something didn’t work. And sharing those resources, sharing that information, being mentors—it just wasn’t always encouraged. But the way it’s always worked with us is we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. And if I have information, you have information. And if I have a platform, you have a platform. How can we expand that? And that’s what we’ve come up with with the founder’s roundtable.”
She continues, “It’s easy to support people as they’re winning an Oscar or winning the Super Bowl or whatever. It’s easier to be a fan and support them. But when people are at their darkest moment, who really shows up?” she asks. “And when it’s time for real solidarity, who really shows up? And, luckily we walk the walk, and that we talk. So hopefully it inspires more people to do the same.”
Ahead of the roundtable—streaming live on February 22 at 7 p.m. C.T.—we caught up with Union for a quick round of Glamour’s Big Beauty Questions. Read on for her beauty essentials, self-care secrets, and thoughts on toxic beauty standards.
Glamour: In addition to Taraji, you’re hosting the roundtable in partnership with Sally’s Beauty. Why is this partnership important to you?
Gabrielle Union: Well, they’re everywhere. That’s first and foremost. And they’re in all communities. There are times when I am in search of specific products, geared toward more melanated folks, and it’s impossible when I’m on the road to find products. But Sally’s is in pretty much every major community; they’re there and they’ve always been there. There’s a respect for their customers. And they truly do embrace diversity and inclusion. It shows in the way that their customers are not demonized or profiled just for screwing off a top, or going to feel the consistency of something, or smell something. That’s encouraged. That was the biggest deciding factor when we were looking for distribution partners.
What’s one beauty trend you are obsessed with right now?
Ooh, those magnetic lashes. Full disclosure, I didn’t get how it was going to stay on. I tried it and it worked. And if you’re like me, somebody who has a hard time putting on fake eyelashes, it’s a lot easier. I can’t remember the brand I use, but the ad popped up—and clearly that kind of stuff works, because my ass bought it! I’m also one of those people who doesn’t normally follow directions, but I followed the directions and it actually worked. Fancy that!
What is the best beauty advice either your mom or someone else in your life has given you?
Make sure to take your makeup off at the end of the night and wash your face. Because what it looks like the next day is that you’re making poor life choices. And of course that is not exactly the words that they used, but that has proven to be true.
Fill in the blank. I love my hair when…
I love my hair when the big, beautiful, luscious curls are just doing what they’re supposed to do on the first try. That’s when I probably love my hair most.
Since you do travel a lot, is there a city or a country that gives you the greatest beauty inspiration?
Oh, there’s so many. Probably the women in Paris, Parisian women of all races. I mean, it’s a different level. We went there this summer, and I just started following a bunch of these women on Instagram. And I go to one account, it leads you to five more, and it leads you to, “Well, if you like this, you’ll love these.” And now I’m just obsessed with these French beauty and fashion influencers. I’m all the way in.
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