“Shut up and play,” a belittling phrase used towards athletes who dare to speak up and out about issues not pertaining to athletics. The reality is that the days of an athlete simply “playing” have come and gone, however, and tennis star Naomi Osaka knows that all too well. In the past few months Osaka has become a profound example of the gravity of choosing mental health — empowering other women, particularly Black women, to say no and showing us all that it’s okay to not have it all together all the time. That’s why it only makes sense that her debut skincare line KINLÒ, launching today, is yet another extension of that mission — created with thoughtfulness, a focus on melanated skin and a desire to amplify self-care.
“My mom always taught me the importance of washing your face, so I think I’ve always done that from a young age, even though I don’t wear much makeup,” Osaka tells ESSENCE exclusively. “My skincare routine is pretty minimal — cleanser, moisturizer, and maybe something extra every now and then. But I just think washing your face regularly and keeping your skin hydrated and protected is the most important.” And while it may seem like the tennis star and now skincare powerhouse has it all figured out, Osaka wants us to know that she’s just like the rest of us. “I’m not going to lie, there are definitely days that my skin is not my friend, especially if I eat something that I wouldn’t normally eat,” she shares. “But for the most part, I love my skin and enjoy taking care of it and keeping things simple.”
That’s why, in the spirit of keeping it simple, Osaka decided to kick of KINLÒ with strictly the essentials and partnered with the experts to do so. Dr. Naana Boakye will serve as Dermatology Director to help guarantee that the products are of the highest efficiency and will ensure that education about skin cancer, particularly skin protection in the Black, Brown and Asian-Pacific communities, is paramount. Also helming the KINLÒ team is Vanessa Motley Coleman, Vice President who will oversee business operations.
“The initial product offering is all about both protection and recovery,” Osaka says. “The Golden Rays Sunscreen SPF 50+ protects from harmful sun and blue light rays, while the other three products provide nourishment and hydration for after-sun and overnight recovery.” The 23-year-old shares that due to her being in the sun all day on the court and keeping active, a sweat-proof sunscreen was imperative — as is the need for hydration. “I also wanted to include an eye cream and lip balm since those are things we should all be using regularly,” she continues. “The Hydrating Golden Mist is an added bonus for skin hydration or even as a relaxing room spray.” Make no mistake, however, KINLÒ won’t be only four SKUS for long. “In the future, we’ll be adding several more protection products while also expanding the recovery offering,” she says.
And while the products and what they do are important, it’s the name of the brand that’s equally as special — paying homage to one of the most sacred parts of Osaka. “I spent some time thinking about the name as I wanted something that spoke to both my Japanese and my Haitian roots,” she shares. “When I thought about it I was really drawn to the word gold and that’s where KINLÒ was born. Kin and Lo mean gold in Japanese and Haitian, respectively.”
While providing clear, radiant skin is in fact what Osaka is after with KINLÒ, she hopes that the brand’s impact is much more profound than just the formulas themselves. “Mental health is caring for yourself, and taking care of your skin is also self-care,” she says. “I think there are so many things, big and small, that you can do to take care of yourself. The support system of people you surround yourself with is a big one, while taking care of your skin and following a skin protection and recovery routine is something small that makes you feel good about yourself and helps with overall well-being.”
Osaka emphasizes that her top priorities throughout this journey are educating people, building awareness and hopefully saving some lives in the process — especially amongst those of color. “I didn’t realize the importance of protecting my skin until I was an adult, so I hope the brand can help teach a younger generation some good skin habits,” she says. “The possibilities are really endless and we’ll continue to build out and focus on making products that are specifically formulated for melanated skin. We’re already working on expanding the product offering in the future and I think the brand will continue to grow based on the specific needs of the POC community.”
Shop KINLÒ ahead.