Move aside, baseball caps, sunscreen, rainbow umbrellas and UV protective swimwear. There’s a new player in town to protect beachgoers from the sun. The “Facekini.”
Plenty of people are concerned for the health of their skin when they go to the beach, but Chinese beachgoers are taking things to a whole new level with their newest sun-protection innovation: a full head mask that protects your face from sun damage.
The masks closely resemble lightweight ski masks, covering the swimmer crown to collarbone with holes for the eyes nose and mouth, and cost from $2-$4. They’re often handmade from old swimsuits and even, in some cases, underwear. They’re usually worn with full body UV protection clothing and also protect swimmers from jellyfish stings and mosquito bites. They’re even rumored to scare off sharks, especially orange masks, which are a color sharks supposedly fear.
The trend originated from Quingdao, the tourist city in Northeastern China where the mask was invented, and rose to popularity in the rest of the beaches on the East China Sea.
This may seem like a pretty extreme method to stay out of the sun, but fair skin is highly prized in China. Our sunbathers would seem absurd, not to mention tacky. Protecting one’s skin from sun damage is actually a sign of class, while people with tan skin are associated with “peasants” who work outdoors.
“Though there is nothing more effective than simply blocking your face completely away from the sun, for the rest of us there are many viable options for UV protection,” says Barb Torgerson, Education and Sales Representative and Esthetician at Hylunia. “Natural sunscreens that protect both against UVA and UVB rays are best, also be sure to select an appropriate SPF for your skin.”
Facekinis are also often worn by older women who want to hide their identities while swimming in public. Many feel uncomfortable wearing bathing suits in public, and the mask allows them to enjoy themselves freely without worrying about people recognizing them.
Because of this beauty standard, China is actually world-renowned for it’s extremely effective skin care products, treatments and routines. In fact, many beauty tips we take for granted in the US came our way from Chinese beauty innovators, including the use of coconut in skin care and other cosmetic products.
The facekini may catch on elsewhere eventually, but for now, most people will probably stick to sunhats and sunscreen.