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The 'total myth' Naomi Osaka wants to dispel with KINLO, her new beauty line

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Naomi Osaka wants to hit a Grand Slam in a different sort of court: beauty, but with a purpose.

This week, the outspoken 23-year old tennis pro launched KINLO, her own skin care line that’s designed specifically for women of color.

The word is a portmanteau inspired by her Japanese and Haitiian roots that means “gold,” and enters a competitive field of celebrity beauty that has created a staggering amount of wealth for their founders, practically overnight. These brands include Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty, Kylie Jenner’s line, which is sold by Ulta (ULTA), and Kim Kardashian West’s KKW Beauty.

Yet Osaka’s line offers key products— a tinted SPF 50 moisturizer, a protective body spray, and restorative lip balm and eye cream — that differ in key respects. Major selling points are price and demographic: Every item retails for under $20, and has been formulated specifically to address the needs of those with darker skin.

“I hope that this brand not only allows for people of color to find accessible and affordable products they love but that also the brand raises awareness for the growing numbers of skin cancer in people with brown and black skin,” Osaka told Yahoo Finance in a statement.

Tennis champ Naomi Osaka poses for KINLO, her new skin care line.
Tennis champ Naomi Osaka poses for KINLO, her new skin care line.

Among people with darker skin, high levels of melanin afford protection from ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Yet for a few reasons, Black Americans diagnosed with melanoma— the deadliest form of skin cancer — actually have lower survival rates than other groups, according to the National Cancer Institute data.

“The idea that we don’t burn because we have dark skin is a total myth, and I want people to understand that UV rays come not only from the sun but also from computer screens and blue light,” Osaka added.

Osaka has partnered with Dr. Naana Boakye, MD, a dermatologist with experience treating darker, melanin-rich skin tones. Kinlo aims to boost availability of UV-protective products aimed for underserved communities.

Osaka admits she was never a fan of using sunscreen as a kid because it “wasn’t smooth and never blended in,” but she’s hoping Kinlo’s customers have a better experience.

This isn't Osaka’s first rodeo in the beauty world. In 2018, Japanese beauty company Shiseido tapped Osaka in 2018 to serve as the face of BareMinerals and sunscreen brand Anessa. 

Osaka suffered a tough first round exit at the U.S. Open, where she vowed to take an extended break from tennis. In her new venture, she'll serve as CEO, and one with an eye toward corporate social responsibility.

“Since launching KINLÒ, my biggest takeaway is that you can create products AND stand for making an impact in the world, you don’t have to just choose one,” Osaka said.

Despite her success on the tennis court, she hopes to expand this passion project to a broader market.

“I'd love to eventually have a kids-specific sunscreen soon, but also want to continue to build both the protection and recovery lines of the brand,” Osaka told Yahoo Finance. “The possibilities are really endless and we'll continue to build out and focus on making products that are specifically formulated for melanated skin.”

Dani Romero is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @daniromerotv

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