The Story Behind Natural, Plant-Based, and Black-Owned Krio Skincare

The Story Behind Natural, Plant-Based, and Black-Owned Krio Skincare

being ashy is never cool.


Most great ideas or products don’t just appear out of thin air.

They have a story behind them.

They are born from an idea. A passion. An inspiration. An urge for change.

That’s exactly how krio was born - an inspiration from ancestral traditions, an urge for quality, simple products that actually treat skin conditions while remaining healthy for our skin, and a passion to create a community filled with like-minded individuals.


So How Did krio Start, Exactly?

For most of my life, I dealt with skin issues from peeling skin on my hands and feet to eczema. My face was riddled with dry skin patches that stripped my confidence and left me feeling embarrassed.
Tony Johnson, Founder of krio

Tony Johnson, Founder of krio

Tony and his friends would joke around about being ashy, but ultimately, he knew dry skin was a serious problem and he was losing the battle to it. He started to question the skincare products he was using, trying to understand their inability to treat his dry skin. He knew he wasn’t the only one.

“I began experimenting with my wife's skincare products and I loved the results I was getting. The caveat was that the usage rate of her products had more than doubled. I was overcompensating, and she told me I needed to buy my own products.”


Tony didn’t want to just buy new products. He wanted to create simple, vegan-friendly products that people could read, understand and know exactly what they were putting on their skin.

He decided to ask his parents, immigrants from Sierra Leone, what skincare products they used when they were younger. They explained to Tony that only plant-based oils such as palm oil and marula oil, as well as shea butter, were used to treat dry skin and prevent wrinkles from the sun.


Further Back: Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone - it’s history and people, it’s natural wonders and culture all influenced the story behind krio. Our ancestors’ skin care regimen used natural botanical ingredients to take care of difficult skin problems such as dryness, eczema, acne, aging and more.

Image by Annie Spratt (@anniespratt) from Unsplash

Image by Annie Spratt (@anniespratt) from Unsplash

What is krio skincare? And Why Should YOU Care?

You might be wondering, “what is krio? And what makes it different from any other product out on the market?”

After ample research and experimentation in Tony’s tiny Somerville kitchen, specially crafted formulas to battle ashiness were formed. After more research, he realized that krio could be more effective for than just dry skin. 

Key ingredients like marula oil, argan oil, watermelon seed oil and baobab oil contain vitamins, antioxidants and essential fatty acids that can solve a wider range of skin problems, just like his ancestors found out.

And the best part is, unlike traditional skincare lotion or oil, there are no added chemicals, fillers, parabens, or other unnecessary ingredients. Because that’s just what they are - unnecessary.

Finally, Tony decided that our skin shouldn’t be the only place we focus on for nourishment and care, but our hair too. Additional research led to our hair oil formula, designed for the hair on your face, head, and parts of your body.


The Natural, Plant-Based Products

Each product of krio’s is carefully hand-crafted with a specific goal and experience in mind. Each product goes through a handful of trials until the formula is perfected for your skin. Before all of that, though, krio’s products are formulated and named with inspiration in mind: a special destination in Sierra Leone.

Kono Body Butter

In the Eastern Province of Sierra Leone lies the Kono District, the largest diamond producing district in Sierra Leone. It also is one of the most ethnically diverse districts in Sierra Leone and is home to many ethnic groups, with no group forming a majority.

Aside from diamonds, the Kono District provides gold mining, rice, coffee, and cacao. This special area of Sierra Leone inspired us to create a new product based on its rich diversity and resources.

Kono. Infused with coffee grinds imported from Sierra Leone, shea butter, and broccoli seed oil.

Notes: Coffee / Vanilla


Shea butter, Sunflower oil, Broccoli seed oil, Hemp seed oil, Watermelon seed oil, Rosehip oil, Vegetable glycerin, Coffee (imported from Sierra Leone)

River No. 2 Face Oil

Lush white sand beaches meet towering mountain ranges and turquoise hued waters. River No. 2, surrounded by mangrove forests, carves it’s way from the rolling hills into the sea.

This snapshot of paradise and natural beauty inspired the identity behind our dynamic and nourishing facial oil.

River No. 2 is carefully crafted to be lightweight yet exceptionally dense in crucial nutrients to keep your face nourished and glowing and battle difficult skin complications such as dry skin, acne and aging.

Key ingredients such as marula oil and watermelon seed oil contain vitamins and essential fatty acids that work in sync to provide hydration and other benefits for healthy skin.

Notes: Sage / Lavender


Kalahari melon oil, Watermelon seed oil, Marula oil, Jojoba oil, Grapeseed oil, Argan oil, Rosehip oil, Sea Buckthorn oil, Pomegranate oil, Clary Sage oil, Lavender oil, Chamomile oil, Carrot seed oil

Bintumani Hair Oil

Standing at 6,381 feet, Mount Bintumani holds the highest peak in Sierra Leone. The mountain is a challenge even for the most experienced hiker, but it boasts the most diverse ecosystem in the country.

Our formula is uniquely formed with botanical oils to provide a soothing and luxurious experience for all hair types. Bintumani is a conditioner that is nourishing, yet light for your scalp so as to not leave you feeling or looking oily.

Using it as a beard oil provides a lustrous experience appropriate for the particular hair on your face, while locking in moisture and nourishing the skin underneath.

Notes: Patchouli / Sandalwood


Grapeseed oil, Sunflower oil, Castor oil, Argan oil, Avocado oil, Rosehip oil, Pomegranate oil, Sea buckthorn oil, Clary sage oil, Cedarwood oil, Patchouli oil, Cistus oil

Tacugama Body Oil

Our body oil is named after the famed Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Freetown, Sierra Leone. With 100 acres and over 90 chimps, Tacugama is leading West Africa to focus on environmental sustainability and conservation education, while creating Sierra Leone’s first eco-tourism circuit.

Tacugama body oil is crafted with a powerful nutrient blend of botanical oils. Thanks to key ingredients such as baobab oil and pomegranate seed oil, our formula contains a host of vitamins and essential fatty acids that work together to soften, nourish, and rejuvenate your skin.

Notes: Citrus / Frankincense


Grapeseed oil, Sunflower oil, Avocado oil, Baobab oil, Jojoba oil, Argan oil, Rosehip oil, Carrot seed oil, Sea buckthorn oil, Grapefruit oil, Juniper berry oil, Bergamot oil, Sweet orange oil, Tangerine oil, Geranium oil, Frankincense oil, Vanilla oil.


What Does Our Community Think About Black-Owned Businesses?

Today we’re living in a divided society; a community that is broken and struggling to remain whole. Big-named brands tend to catch the eye of consumers, but at what cost?

According to the most recent survey from the Federal Reserve Board, only 34% of Black American households owned equity investments, as compared with 61% of white families. This amounted to $14,400, which is nearly a quarter of what their white peers own.

Our financial experts at Bankrate created a guide exploring some of the best ways to invest in the black community and different options available. It also gathered some of the important statistics, including:

  • Number of black-owned businesses in the U.S.
  • Most popular category of black-owned businesses
  • Average start-up capital for black entrepreneurs
  • Percentage of black-owned businesses managed by women

We’ve had the honor of sharing our story and product transparently within our community and beyond, to hear what they want in order to feel and look their best. We’ve collaborated with individuals of our community, supported their businesses, and told our story.

We’ve been featured in NY Mag’s The Strategist’s 180 Black-Owned Businesses to Support,’s 20 Black-Owned Businesses to Support, and Arnold + Havas Media’s This Month in Boston: The Black-Owned Edition.

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