When I meet Naomi Osaka days before she defends her number-one status at the U.S. Open (the tournament she won against Serena Williams in 2018), the 21-year-old tennis star is barely wearing any makeup. A little black eyeliner and a splash of shimmery metallic shadow frame her deep brown eyes. Her hair is pulled back into a ponytail, and the sweatband across her forehead holds down two curly tendrils that she’s purposefully left out to frame her face.
Unlike many celebs who are professionally primped before a press appearance, it looks like Osaka got ready herself — a move that would normally be surprising if the brand she's representing wasn't BareMinerals. For years, the company has been known for its natural, barely-there approach to beauty, and as a full-time athlete, Osaka can get down with that.
The tennis champion's beauty routine can be boiled down to a few key steps: soap and sunscreen in the morning, moisturizer and the occasional clay mask at night, a leave-in conditioner for her hair, and the lightest of makeup applications — if the occasion calls for it.
Like most children of the aughts, Osaka learned how to do her makeup at the hands of YouTube teachers. “After several years, I’ve mastered how to do average eyeliner and eyeshadow,” she jokes, noting that she hasn't quite mastered the cat-eye quite like her 105 mph serve. Right now, she's into all things metallic, but subtle — think sheer washes of gold and copper — that complement her eye shape. “I was on YouTube and I was wondering why I was doing the same exact thing as the beauty gurus, but it was looking different on my face," she says. "I started Googling different eye types, and I found that I have hooded eyes. I bounced back once I realized that I have more space for eyeshadow.”
It's clear that Osaka's interest in beauty is blooming, but she rarely gets a chance to rock a full face of makeup because she spends most of her time practicing her forehand swing and competing on the international tennis circuit. When she’s out on the court, her focus is understandably elsewhere. She’ll occasionally wear her BareMinerals BarePro Performance Foundation. ("It depends on how hot it is outside, and if I feel like I need moisture.") Then, after a match, she might add a few swipes of her brow pencil before leaving the locker room to face the press core — if she has the energy.
Osaka is more likely to experiment with her naturally curly hair. Over the years, she's played with different hair colors, bouncing between golden blonde, jet-black, and her natural chocolate tone. There was even that one time she tried an at-home dye job. “I had this very bright idea of buying box bleach and putting it in my head. There were orange patches, and I looked like a Dalmatian,” she recalls. “Eventually we had to go to the hair salon, and I suffered the embarrassment of sitting in that chair — that was the worst.”
But her DIY fail hasn’t totally turned her off of hair color. “I was debating going black again or honey blonde,” she says. “I feel like at one point in their life everyone wants to try red, but I feel like only Rihanna can pull that off. So, I’m just going to be satisfied with my dark brown.”
It's clear Osaka takes a laid-back approach to beauty, but there is one thing she is serious about: sunscreen. “As a kid, I always thought that I didn’t need to put on sunscreen because I have enough melanin,” she says, referring to her Haitian and Japanese heritage. “I got really red one time, and I started putting on sunscreen after that. That was a wake-up call for me.”
Now, she never leaves the locker room without putting on her favorite Shiseido Anessa moisturizer with SPF. When she hits the court, she's also covered in an undeniable confidence that allows her to defeat her opponents with equal parts grace and strength, something we'll likely be seeing as she takes on the U.S. Open starting today.
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