April 27, 2021: Naomi Osaka is not-so-quietly making herself known in the beauty and fashion space. After collaborating with Japanese-American label Adeam in February of 2020 and being named Louis Vuitton’s newest global ambassador in January of 2021, the 23-year-old tennis pro has a new project up her sleeve that has skincare aficionados buzzing. Per Business of Fashion, the two-time Grand Slam champion will debut a unisex skincare brand developed specifically for people of colour, entitled Kinló, this fall.
“What drew me towards this project is having memories of being a kid and not knowing how to protect my skin,” the athlete tells BoF, adding that she “only started wearing sunscreen recently.” The latter is a testament to how important it is to Osaka that she influence people about SPF’s importance. “For me, this project is something that requires more than just being a spokesperson. This is a public health need. I used to tell people that I didn’t need to wear sunscreen—but even if you have melanin, you need to take care of your skin, and I am passionate about that.”
The “public health need” Osaka’s referring to is the jarring statistics that report an increased mortality rate in people of colour due to melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, 33 percent of Black Americans die within five years of a melanoma diagnosis, compared to eight percent of non-Hispanic white Americans. Osaka hopes to play a role in improving these statistics, and so she teamed up with NYC-based dermatologist Naana Boakye, MD, who advised on ensuring product formulations meet the needs of melanated skin tones.
As reported by BoF, Kinló’s first collection will include an SPF 40 tinted face lotion that protects against blue light and an SPF 50 tinted face lotion formulated for physical activity. Both meet the American Academy of Dermatology’s recommendation that everyone use SPF of 30 or higher. Likewise, the brand promises products won’t leave a white residue, unlike a majority of sunscreens on the market. In addition to the sunscreen formulations, the brand’s first launch will also include body spray, recovery lip balm, and recovery eye cream.
Just hours after the BoF report sparked even more headlines about Osaka’s new venture, the athlete introduced her 2.2 million Instagram followers to Kinló with a post showcasing her brand logo. In the accompanying caption, she wrote, “I hope these products can help a lot of people and potentially save lives because I really feel that we aren’t protecting ourselves as much as we could.” Unsurprisingly, hundreds of fans have commented on the post, voicing their excitement and support for her first company.
Osaka isn’t the only pro athlete taking steps to fill the sunscreen void for darker skin tones. Venus Williams’ relationship with sunscreen is similar to Osaka’s because she didn’t know she needed to use sunscreen. In May of 2020, she teamed up with Credo Beauty to unveil SPF products under her EleVen by Venus Williams brand, and now, they’re bestsellers. “I [went] the first 35 years of my life in full sun exposure, you know, six or seven days a week. “And I regret that,” Williams told Women’s Health Australia. “Hopefully, people will read these words and realise it doesn’t matter what your skin tone is; you have to protect your skin.”