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Vanessa Hudgens Says She 'Looked to Mother Nature' for Inspiration to Relaunch Her Beauty Brand

People 3/15/2023 Hedy Phillips

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Vanessa Hudgens is starting fresh — with her beauty brand, that is. 

The actress and beauty-lover is relaunching her brand KNOW Beauty today with a new vibe, a new ethos and a brand new product.

"I had to really start from scratch, which was exciting and slightly overwhelming," Hudgens tells PEOPLE exclusively of the relaunch. "It's a very saturated marketplace and I didn't want to have my product be just another thing out there. I wanted to make sure there was a reason KNOW Beauty was on the map."

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To do that, she created the Glacial Bay Clay Mask, her hero product for her brand's relaunch. Hudgens, 34, admits that as someone who has struggled with acne even into her adult life, she's a huge fan of masks, especially those made from clay. With so many already available to buy, though, she spent months developing one that was a little bit different. 

"I never found one that I was obsessed with because I always found them a little too dry," she says. "I have really oily and sensitive skin, and I just couldn't find the right one. I was like, 'I think that's my place. I think that's where I start.'"

Hudgens "looked to Mother Nature" for inspiration, sourcing natural ingredients that are full of minerals and nourishing for the skin. The banner ingredient is Canadian colloidal clay, which Hudgens says is "harvested from an active glacier." 

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"There's a ton of active minerals," she adds. "A ton of stuff that's alive in there, which I love."

The result of the formulation — which Hudgens developed with Mary Berry, CEO and founder of Cosmos Labs — is a vegan, cruelty-free clay mask that shouldn't dry out your skin, but will instead, help hydrate it and give you a spa-like experience. 

To achieve that, Hudgens wanted to add cucumber to the mix, along with giant sea kelp and lactic acid. The clay mask has a light scent to it to be refreshing and will give you a moment of zen in your day when you use it — at least that's what Hudgens is hoping for. 

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"I really wanted something that can slot seamlessly into your skincare regimen and really help solve problems," she says of the product, which is available now on the KNOW Beauty website and on Amazon for $35.

Hudgens originally launched KNOW Beauty in 2021 alongside friend and business partner Madison Beer. Their concept was for super personalized skincare, and it required customers to hand over a DNA sample in order to get a formulation tailored to your skin. Unfortunately for Hudgens and Beer, it didn't work.

"Our whole thing was about personalized skincare, giving our consumers DNA kits so that it takes the guesswork out of skincare, but it just didn't really find its home," Hudgens admits. "It didn't really resonate with the consumers the way that we thought it would."

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Rather than forge on unsuccessfully, they shut down the brand to "pivot and re-figure out" what they should do. Beer ended up handing over the reins, as she had "a lot on her plate" with music and her book at the time. That was when Hudgens teamed up with Berry to strip back all the bells and whistles and design a brand and product that felt authentic to the High School Musical alum's lifestyle. If it wasn't a product she wanted to have on her vanity, it wasn't a product she wanted to sell to her customers.

"I really enjoyed the process," Hudgens says of all the trial and error it took to create her clay mask. "My chaotic mind is very stimulated by this, and luckily, my business partner has enough mental clarity to be able to take everything and turn it into an actual product."

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She's willing to put her money where her mouth is, too. Hudgens says she happily uses her product just about every day, which is why she's excited for others to try it. "I use it a lot," she says. "I literally woke up this morning, and first thing before I even ordered my coffee, I threw it on my face."

The sting of KNOW Beauty initially not working out has mostly worn off for Hudgens now that she has a new product that she's proud of, especially because she feels like she's filling a niche hole in the skincare market. She's hopeful that this product — and future products that will fall into the masking space — will resonate with customers more than the original business model. 

It's a new beginning for the recently engaged star and she's ready to face it head on. "I'm just really excited for it to get out there," she says. "And excited for it to help people with their skin and their confidence."

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