'Face-kini' to get Peking opera facelift

'Face-kini' to get Peking opera facelift
PHOTO: Reuters

It is a hit with women in China who want to go swimming and maintain their complexion at the same time.

The mask made for the beach - the face-kini - has become an instant success, surprising even its inventor, 59-year-old former accountant Zhang Shifan.

But there was a problem initially - it scared children, Reuters reported.

"I really wanted to do something I could to avoid scaring people," Ms Zhang, who owns her own swimwear shop, said.

She then experimented with various colour combinations for the face-kini, but it still looked scary.

Eventually, she decided to fall back on the traditional face-paint designs of Peking opera, and she is hoping her new designs will not scare children away.

Her new line is scheduled to hit the market next month.

She told cntv.cn: "In the past, I really wanted to do everything I could to avoid scaring people. If I were to make a face-kini, I wouldn't make a black one or a white one.

"But scaring people still couldn't be avoided. So I thought, 'Why don't I draw some Peking opera designs that the Chinese people like instead?' So little children might not be so scared when they see these designs."

She said the original idea came from swimmers' demands for protection from harmful sun-rays and jellyfish stings.

But opinion on the new design is divided among her customers even as counterfeits have sprung up all over China.

For 64-year-old Wang Baoyu, one of Ms Zhang's loyal customers of nearly 10 years, nothing beats the original.


Said Ms Wang: "This store (Ms Zhang's) is authentic and I rode the bus for more than an hour to come here. I wouldn't dare buy one from a street vendor as I'm afraid of buying a counterfeit."

To be sure, the face-kini is not for everyone.

Ms Zhang Xing, a 31-year-old beach-goer, said she would never wear one but still, she praised Ms Zhang and her new design.

Said the 31-year-old: "She really is someone who is full of ideas. She's able to make something that can both protect people's skin and blend it with traditional Chinese culture."

Over the past year, about 30,000 of these masks have been sold.

This article was first published on July 19, 2015.
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