The Facekini is a Chinese beauty accessory invented by Zhang Shifan in 2004, used to protect against sunlight while swimming, as well as jellyfish stings and sea weed. The name is a reference to the Burkini (a combination of the words Burka and Bikini) which is mainly worn in the Middle East by religious women while exercising. In China it is a mark of high status to have fair skin. In the summer, the beaches of Qingdao are clad with thousands of women wearing Facekinis.

This particular model, which I am wearing in this picture, comes from one of Zhang Shifan’s collections inspired by Peking Opera masks.

The facekini is a cloth alternative to the Umemezi-clay cream, which Xhosa women wear to protect their skin against sun damage while working outside on the fields in the South African sun. Umemezi is made from red bark harvested from the Mangrove tree.

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