Naomi Osaka Opens Up About Her ‘Empowering Hair Journey’

Texture Diaries is a space for Black people across industries to reflect on their journeys to self-love and how accepting their hair, in all its glory, played a pivotal role in this process. Each week, they share their favorite hair rituals, products, and the biggest lessons they’ve learned when it comes to affirming their beauty and owning their unique hair texture.

The ability to inspire others keeps someone as busy as Naomi Osaka going. “I feel fortunate to be able to use my platform to make positive changes,” she tells Vogue. The 24-year-old tennis star channels this attitude into everything she does. She advocated for putting your mental health first when she withdrew from the 2021 French Open. She sparked vital conversations around police brutality when she pulled out of the Western & Southern Open in 2020 to protest against racial injustice. Now, she’s fighting to make sun protection more inclusive for Black and Brown people with her skin-care brand Kinlò.

“I never liked wearing sunscreen because it always left a white cast,” says Osaka. But that changed a few years ago after she got a severe sunburn at the Australian Open. After that, she not only wanted to step up her sun protection but take it a step further by launching her own line, which would fill a hole in the market with SPF for melanin-rich skin. A new milestone in this mission includes Kinlò’s recent “Glow Outside” campaign, in which the brand partnered with five college athletes to spread awareness around why people with darker skin tones should be using SPF, too. “For me, it makes a huge impact when there is more representation in the beauty industry,” she says. 

For Osaka, another vital pillar of beauty is confidence. “You can’t please everyone,” she says. As a beauty boundary-breaker, this mentality also spills over into choices with her hair. “I’ve had a very empowering hair journey,” she explains. “I’ve been able to try so many fun hairstyles and colors over the years.” One of her favorite looks is her 2021 Met Gala look, where she paid homage to her Haitian and Japanese heritage with a sculptural, gravity-defying updo. Her trusted friend and hairstylist, Marty Harper, has encouraged Osaka to get out of her comfort zone. “I trust him to make my hair ideas come to life in a way that keeps my hair healthy and growing,” she says. 

When it comes to daily maintenance, Osaka turns to NatureLab’s Perfect Texture line, especially the leave-in treatments and scalp scrubs. “I love how it cleans the scalp,” she says of the latter. “After training and playing, I need that good feeling!” Speaking of training, when Osaka is playing more often, wash-and-go styles are her jam. “I tend to co-wash more than I wash during these times,” she adds. 

As of late, braids and locs have been Osaka’s favorite styles to rock. “But I have always wanted to try Bantu knots, too,” she says. She’s always open to letting her hair reflect her inner evolution. “Confidence is visible,” she says. “You can rock any hairstyle as long as you’re confident in yourself.”