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After teaming with Adeam, Levi’s and Nike on the fashion front, Naomi Osaka has officially stepped into beauty. The four-time Grand Slam singles champion has launched her first brand, Kinlò, a line of skincare formulated to protect melanin-rich skin on and off the tennis courts.
“I spend so much time outside and in the sun, so protecting my skin has always been a top priority for me,” Osaka tells The Hollywood Reporter. “I wasn’t finding a product that I loved enough to keep going back to that was created specifically for darker skin tones, so I started doing research about melanated skin and skin cancer rates. In learning the stats and the lack of proper education people with darker skin tones often have when it comes to sun protection needs, I decided to create Kinlò.”
Born to a Japanese mother and Haitian father, the 23-year-old tennis star — who was the subject of a Netflix docuseries — credits the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2019 study for inspiring her to launch the brand, which also serves to raise awareness of skin cancers among those with darker skin tones. The CDC’s research found that the five-year melanoma survival rate among non-Hispanic Black people in the U.S. was 66 percent, compared to 90 percent for non-Hispanic white populations. (Kinlò takes its name from both languages’ words for “gold.”)
Priced from $15 to $30, the cruelty-free and vegan label’s debut lineup features reef-safe products designed to protect skin during and after workouts and everyday life. “I use [the products] myself on a daily basis,” adds Osaka, who says she previously assumed that her darker skin tone meant she was naturally protected from sun damage.
“I’ve found that many of the other products on the market are either not tinted enough for melanated skin which means they often leave a white residue, or they are very drying, or in many cases they are both. I wanted to create products that offered great quality moisturizing ingredients and a functional tint that can be worn every day whether it’s under your makeup or on bare skin.”
The Golden Rays tinted SPF50+ facial sunscreen is a lightweight, mineral-based formula that’s non-comedogenic (so it doesn’t clog pores), water-resistant and sweat-proof. The rejuvenating and hydrating eye cream features red algae, known for soothing and moisturizing the skin as well as reducing the appearance of fine lines and protecting the skin from dark spots and sun damage. The refreshing Golden Mist (which has a light tropical coconut and orange scent) helps to calm the skin with aloe vera and calendula, and the soothing lip balm rounds out the brand with pucker hydration.
Products are also available in a four-piece Golden Ritual set ($50) or a two-piece duo ($20) that includes the sunscreen and mist. The line is formulated without gluten, parabens, phthalates and sulfates, and every item is available as a one-time purchase or as a subscription every one, two or three months with free shipping.
Osaka tapped Dr. Naana Boakye to serve as dermatology director for Kinlò, which is the second line under mission-driven brand incubator A Frame‘s portfolio of star-powered labels. (Boakye also serves as the company’s chief marketing officer). The
Read more from our chat with Osaka below, and shop Kinlò online here.
What was it like working with Dr. Boakye?
Dr. Boakye is a true expert in skincare formulation. I knew what my vision was for Kinlò, but she helped bring it to life. We spent a year and a half developing these products because we knew they had to be perfect. They not only had to be clean and effective, but functional for multiple skin tones. There were some key ingredients I knew I had used before and loved, like shea butter and jojoba, and I had been hearing key words like niacinamide in other skincare, but to really understand the science behind it and to learn from someone like her was special. So much of this line is also sharing that information with others.
What were you most excited about as far as the ingredients and formulations?
I love that all of the Kinlò products are infused with antioxidants to fight environmental pollutants and moisturizing ingredients that are important when caring for melanated skin. We used really nourishing ingredients like jojoba and rose hip oils, shea butter, niacinamide and green tea that help protect the skin. Working with Dr. Boakye was really important as she taught me a lot about the intricacies of my skin, its needs, and what each ingredient does on its own and also when combined with the others. It wasn’t enough to just love the final result but to understand what’s behind the products.
In addition to protecting your skin from the sun, what does your self-care routine look like these days?
I try and keep it simple as I don’t use a lot of products or spend a lot of time on skin prep. I always wash my face, my mom taught that to me and my sister since we were young so clean and healthy skin is a starting point. Then I typically apply Kinlò Golden Rays sunscreen as it moisturizes and also protects. That and some lip balm and I am pretty much set for the day.
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Melvin Van Peebles