Say Hello To The Facekini -- Coming Soon To A Beach Near You

The mankini? So last season.

Japan, Korea and China have long been world leaders when it comes to beauty and skin care, and the latest trend to come out of East Asia -- the 'facekini' -- has officially hit the big time.

The balaclava-like head and face covering, which originated in the coastal city of Qingdao in north-eastern China in the early 2000s, has now grabbed the attention of Vogue magazine. And we can't seem to look away.

While it might look a bit frightening at first glance, die-hard facekini wearers -- largely female Chinese beach goers -- have embraced the functional yet funny-looking head wear with enthusiasm.

Don't get us wrong, we ain't throwing shade. Made of swimsuit material, the facekini claims to protect the wearer from harmful UVA/B rays, as well as nasty sea critters like jellyfish and sea lice.

We're ordering one for blue bottle season, stat.

Since hitting the hallowed pages of Vogue the kooky head wear has been given somewhat of a high-fashion makeover. While the original facekini was already quite eye-catching, the newer iterations have upped the ante.

Instead of plain block colours and modest patterns the new breed of facekini incorporates cats -- both of the wild and domesticated variety -- as well as fluoro leopard print and references to Mexican wrestling masks. Go figure.

The facekini fad is certainly catching. It's popped up throughout the US -- where you can buy your very own online -- Hawaii, Vietnam and even on the ski fields of Austria.

The question is, will we be seeing facekinis paired with budgie smugglers and thongs on Aussie beaches anytime soon? Our hot tip: keep your eyes on so-trendy-it-hurts Bondi, people.

Until then, please enjoy more photos of people being both sun-safe and fashion-forward.

Feature image: we_are_golf_jedi