While many in the west take sun tans as a sign of health and beauty in Asia many consider the tan a sign of being lower class or a laborer. The face-kini shields the face from being tanned. As an added bonus it keeps off insects and even jelly fish!
In Qingdao in Northeast China the beaches are famous and it is now the height of the tourist season. Many in Asia do not like to tan and associate lighter skin color with beauty.
My wife is from the Philippines. When I lived in the Philippines for a year I was surprised that at the beach many avoided the sun as much as they could rather than using sunblock and soaking up the sun. In the stores there were many different soaps that promised to lighten the color of your skin. Back in Canada tanning salons entice white-skinned northerners with no time or opportunity to tan on beaches to pay to artificially create the appearance of having been on a Caribbean holiday.
The face-kini looks very much like a ski mask or balaclava. One might think that followers of the Punk Band Pussy Riot had invaded China. The cloth is much lighter than that of a ski mask naturally otherwise the face-kini would be intolerably hot. The face-kini costs about four dollars U.S. or less and is often paired with a long sleeved shirt that keeps the sun off the arms as well. There is nothing very bikini-like in the Chinese bathing outfits.
Zhang Guilian a 62 year old native of Qindao dons her outfit each morning."The weather is too hot, the first thing I do each day is to swim in the sea."Guilian recalls people at the beach wearing the full body suits as long as seven years ago. However the western media being behind the times seem to have discovered the new fashion just recently.