A Brief History Of The Facekini

On July 19, 2015 by Tim Newman

Facekini Qingdao - Various

What’s a facekini? Well, it’s a snazzy bit of facial wear that has taken China by storm. Below is a short history of the device and some rather amusing images.

If you are planning to venture down to the beaches of Qingdao, China, you are pretty much guaranteed to witness earth’s newest bit of beachwear – the facekini. It’s a cross between a Mexican wrestling mask and a latex torture device.

The facekini was brought to market by Zhang Shifan, the owner of a Qingdao swimwear shop, in 2004. Although it seems strange to our pasty white Western brains, not every culture values a suntan. In many hot countries, a darker complexion is associated with working hard in the fields i.e. peasant’s work. So although a day at the beach is still a desirable way to spend your time, a tan is not a desirable way to look.

The facekini’s raison d’être is to protect its wearer from the embarrassment of picking up a tan and looking like a pauper, but it also protects your skin from harmful UV rays of course; although, we all know humans are more concerned with the way they look than their future health.

Another bonus of the facekini is the protection it gives against any jellyfish that decide to get up close and personal as you swim.

China's Face-kini Becomes Unlikely Global Fashion Hit

Zhang Shifan, who introduced the facekini to the beaches of Qingdao, admits she didn’t expect them to be as popular as they have become; more than 30,000 have been sold in the last year or two.

Qingdao is a popular place to live and has been declared China’s “most livable city” by the Chinese Institute of City Competitiveness. It is also an industrial centre, meaning that the masks have slipped easily into mass production.

Despite the facekini’s popularity, there is one slight problem, according to Zhang – the kids are terrified of them. Over the last decade or so she’s experimented with different shades, but they all make the children cry. However, in 2015, she delivered the master stroke. Zhang (pictured below) has brought out a range of facekini’s inspired by the Peking Opera.

She’s hoping the kids will love them:

Facekini Qingdao - Chinese Peking Opera Zhang Shifan

Facekini Qingdao - Chinese Peking Opera Facekini Qingdao - Chinese Peking Opera being worn Facekini Qingdao - Chinese Peking Opera being worn 2

Although it seems totally unbelievable that this sort of thing would ever catch on over here in the West, I have my fingers crossed. You never know which route fashion will go down next, I mean, who would have thought the 80’s would come back for part deux?

I, for one, can’t wait to see facekinis spread liberally across the beaches of Blackpool and Margate. Here are some more facekinis in action:

Facekini Qingdao - White and Orange Facekini Qingdao - Turquoise Mask Facekini Qingdao - Selfie Facekini Qingdao - Popularity Facekini Qingdao - Pink With Shades Facekini Qingdao - Pink and Orange Facekini Qingdao - Outfit Facekini Qingdao - Outfit 3 Facekini Qingdao - Mother and Child Facekini Qingdao - Matching Camo And Cat Women balaclava style face masks at a beach, Qingdao, Shandong Province, China - 14 Aug 2014 Facekini Qingdao - Happiness Facekini Qingdao - Group Facekini Qingdao - Fully Body Polkadot Facekini Qingdao - Different Colours Facekini Qingdao - Chinese Peking Opera 2 China's Face-kini Becomes Unlikely Global Fashion Hit China's Face-kini Becomes Unlikely Global Fashion Hit

@media all and (max-width: 228px) { div#darkbackground, div.visiblebox { display: none; } }