Is Gabrielle Union's Flawless haircare line a must-try for natural curly hair?
We put the wash-day and styling products to the test to find out.
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Multi-hyphenated actress, entrepreneur, author, and activist Gabrielle Union is known for many things, but hair care isn't usually at the top of list. The actress in the cult classic “Bring It On” movies went natural herself earlier this year showing off her short ‘do on Instagram. Since then, she’s been sporting her curls and sharing natural hair care tips and tricks, which includes using products from her newest launch: hair care line Flawless by Gabrielle Union.
What is Flawless by Gabrielle Union?
The line consists of 13 products ranging from shampoo and conditioner to hair oil and heat protectant. I put the key options in a standard wash-day routine to the test to see how they stack up to my usual go-tos for cleaning and styling my past-shoulder-length, 3c/4a curly-textured natural hair. This fab five included: the Hydrating Detangling Shampoo, Repairing Deep Conditioning Masque, Detangling Leave In Conditioner, Restoring Exotic Oil Treatment, and Defining Curl Cream.
What do the Flawless by Gabrielle Union hair products claim?
Gabrielle Union and celebrity hair stylist Larry Sims wanted to create an affordable hair care line—everything costs $9.99—that didn’t compromise on ingredients. This also meant leaving out controversial ingredients, such as sulfates, parabens, and silicones. These “high quality” ingredients—rice oil complex, lilac leaf extract, and Brazilian Bucari Butter, namely—intrigued me, as I’ve never seen them on any of my other hair product bottles, so I went to the Flawless website to see exactly what they claim to do:
Rice Oil Complex: The brand claims that inclusion of this ingredient increases the hair’s ability to absorb moisture and adds softness and shine.
Lilac Leaf Extract: This ingredient is used to restore shine, repair and protect damaged hair, and reduce scalp irritation.
Brazilian Bucari Butter: Like the Rice Oil Complex, this ingredient claims to add shine, increase the hair’s ability to absorb moisture for soften, conditioned strands.
While these ingredients sound fancy, it seems like they accomplish the same things as more commonly used ingredients such as jojoba oil and biotin, which promote shiny, healthy hair.
Also, in the realm of ingredients, I flipped the bottles around to read more of the nitty-gritty ingredients and in the last five at the very bottom of the label is “fragrance.” For those who are fragrance-sensitive, this may be an instant turn-off. Even if you didn’t carefully read the label, you’d smell the aroma (which I imagine some would think is strong) as soon as you remove the lid and protective coverings. Unlike your typical coconut, mango, or fruity hair-product smell, these products have a sweet perfume-like scent that almost reminds me of walking past a Bath and Body Works or the perfume counter in Macy's. This is something to consider if you either have sensitive skin or are sensitive or allergic to fragrance in general. I, however, liked the scent, which lingered on my hair for at least two days after use.
Union and Sims also wanted the line of products to be versatile enough to cater to all hair types and style choices. Whether you have wavy or curly strands, braids, or a weave, there is a product in the line that may suit your needs. You can even find a selection of products grouped by wavy, curly, coily, and “protective” on the site to see the products they recommend you to use for your specific hair type or desired outcome.
What’s it like to use Flawless by Gabrielle Union hair products?
Of the five products I tested, the standouts were the Hydrating Detangling Hair Shampoo and Repairing Deep Conditioning Masque, both of which quenched my curls and left them defined, soft, and smelling good. The other three products are where things got a bit tricky, and they ultimately won’t make my favorites list. Here’s how I used them, in order, to wash and style my hair, and what I thought of each step along the way.
1. Flawless by Gabrielle Union Hydrating Detangling Hair Shampoo
This is my favorite product by far! I like to wash and brush my hair in the shower, so I grabbed this shampoo and my Felicia Leatherwood detangling brush and went for it. The shampoo is opaque and has a thick and creamy consistency, which I was happy about because I find that shampoos with similar formulas give me the most hydrating washes. (My current go-to: the Camille Rose Naturals Sweet Ginger Rinse Shampoo.) The shampoo immediately hugged my strands and it seemed like the tangles melted away!
Most shampoos dry my hair out and I have to deep-condition to bring that moisture back, but the Flawless shampoo was different—my hair felt moisturized, it detangled easily, and my curls immediately bounced back and looked defined. I was truly shocked because I have one or two tried-and-true products out of the slew of others I’ve tried over the years that actually moisturize, cleanse, and detangle like they claim. I will be adding this shampoo to my favorites arsenal. My rating: 10/10
2. Flawless by Gabrielle Union Repairing Deep Conditioning Masque
After shampooing, I worked in the Flawless Repairing Deep Conditioning Masque, and again, I was very impressed with the way that it made my curls pop with definition. It was also easy for me to comb out snarls and make sure the product was evenly distributed with my detangling brush. The consistency is super viscous, to the point where the jar toppled over and none of the product spilled out. This is typically good for thicker dry hair like mine because the product can completely encapsulate the hair strands. The conditioning masque struck me as the most fragrant of the line, which I didn’t mind but some might. This, too, has earned a spot on my shower shelf, next to the Cantu Txtr Strengthen and Restore Moisture Mask I’ve been using. My rating: 10/10
Get the Flawless by Gabrielle Union Repairing Deep Conditioning Masque on Amazon for $9.99
3. Flawless by Gabrielle Union Detangling Leave-in Hair Conditioner
When I finished cleansing and conditioning my hair, I went on to use the Detangling Leave-in Hair Conditioner. I follow the L.O.C. method of using a Liquid or Leave-in, an Oil, and a Cream to seal in moisture and style my hair. This product was already at a disadvantage, because I’m not the biggest fan of spray leave-ins. There’s no way to gauge how much product you’re actually spraying onto your hair, so it’s easy to weigh down the curls as a result. This particular spray was unimpressive—it spritzes out a thin liquid, which I believe did nothing to or for my thick curly hair. I prefer creamier leave-ins like the Camille Rose Coconut Water Leave In Conditioner, which I'm convinced provide greater slip, and I can gauge my usage in my palm before I apply it. Regardless, I brushed the leave-in throughout my hair and moved on to styling. My rating: 3/10
4. Flawless by Gabrielle Union Restoring Exotic Hair Oil Treatment
Attempting to continue with the L.O.C. method, I next used the Restoring Exotic Hair Oil Treatment, which also smells heavily of the fragrance used in this line. I’m a huge fan of hair oils because I deal with a dry scalp that I need to diligently moisturize. I also like to seal the ends of my hair to keep them strong and prevent split ends and breakage as much as possible. This oil claims to help with dry hair and protect from heat damage, but it’s quite watery compared to the Camille Rose Buritti and Nectar Repair Hair Oil I’m used to.
I applied this product a few different times to my scalp and my hair strands. While it leaves a nice shine, I can do without it. If I wanted to, I would use this oil to separate my curls to help reduce frizz and reap the benefits of it adding some shine and the pleasant fragrance to my final style. But that's what it's best for: It's way more effective as a finishing or styling oil than an oil treatment designed to moisturize the scalp, seal split ends, and promote hair growth. My rating: 5/10
5. Flawless by Gabrielle Union Defining Curl Hair Cream
Finally, I moved on to styling my hair into my signature hairstyle, which includes using flexi rod hair rollers to achieve a curly look. The Defining Curl Hair Cream is thick in consistency like a few other curl creams I own and like (namely, the Camille Rose Naturals Moroccan Pear Conditioning Custard and the Crece Pelo Treatment), but I used it sparingly to avoid any unpleasant surprises at the tail-end of my hair routine, like my curls feeling heavy and weighed down. When I use products with a thicker texture and then apply rollers to set it, I’ve noticed that the wrong product or too much of a good thing can weigh my hair down, resulting in a longer drying time and a lower likelihood that I’ll end up with the soft, fluffy curls I’m aiming for.
I liked the feel of the Flawless curl cream on my hands, and it left my hair shiny and smelling really good. My curls were bouncy yet elongated, and I liked how my final style turned out. The only drawback was that the product made the ends of my hair a little sticky, but it may be possible to remedy this by applying even less product.
I attempted to use the curl cream again to refresh my flexi-rod set style at the end of the week. I would not recommend it for this, as using the product a second time to refresh my style just weighed my hair down too much. My rating: 6/10
Are hair products from Flawless by Gabrielle Union worth it?
As we all know, many of the products we try may work well for us and not for others and vice versa. If you’re on the market for a new shampoo and deep conditioner, I can attest that this line has great hydrating and detangling options that live up to the claims on the bottles. The styling cream is also a good fit for those with thick curly hair who are looking for a thick product to coat their locks. The oil may work for you if you have wavy hair and enjoy lightweight oils that add shine to a blowout or wavy style. Similar to the oil, the leave-in could work for someone with thinner, straighter hair (like a 1 to 2c on the hair type chart).
Overall, I think Gabrielle Union and the Flawless team did a pretty good job with this line. I like how they included several different types of products in the launch to reach all of their customers, no matter where they are in their natural hair journey. And you don’t have much to lose if you opt to give a product or two a try, as all of the products are a reasonable $10 each.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.