In an attempt to shield their faces from the risk of sun burns or tanning, some Chinese women are turning to face-kinis when hitting the China beaches this summer. These face-kinis are masks that cover the entire head and have spaces that reveal the eyes, nose and mouth of the person wearing it. They come in bright shades of white, yellow, teal, pink and purple. These nylon masks are said to keep out ultra-violet rays, keep the face from tanning, and repel insects and jellyfish.
One user of the face-kini, Yao Wenhua, told the New York Times, “I’m afraid of getting dark. A woman should always have fair skin. Otherwise people will think you’re a peasant.”
While many people in the United States and several other countries look to the summer and beaches as an opportunity to darken their skin through tanning, that is not the case for the Chinese women wearing the face-kini. To the Chinese, having lighter or fair skin is connected with beauty and wealth. Having tanned skin is associated with poverty and hard labor in their culture.
For those interested in using a face-kini, they retail for between $2.40 and $4. They can be purchased at local swim shops in China, online and some women even make their own. While the face-kini does protect the face, any part of the body not covered by a swim suit will be exposed to the sun. The face-kini was invented roughly seven years ago and is being mass produced to meet the growing demand.
While covering the face to avoid tanning is one approach, a safer one might be to protect the entire body from UV rays. Using the appropriate sunblock can provide proper protection all over the body. When using sunscreen, the higher the SPF or sun protection factor, the more protection from UV-B rays you will have. Having the proper protection from these rays can prevent sunburn and skin cancer. So, if your concern is protection from the sun, picking the proper sunscreen and applying it all over the body can probably go a lot farther than using a face-kini when you’re at the beach.