Guide to Rash Guards for the Beach and Pool

Rash guards, sometimes known as rashies or rash vests, are form-fitting athletic clothing meant for water sports or athletic wear. Originally designed to keep one’s skin from brushing on a surfboard or chafing, the use of this garment has expanded far beyond catching waves.

Rash guards are now worn for a number of water sports, including swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, scuba diving, windsurfing, and bodyboarding, among others.

Benefits of Rash Guards

close-up of a woman wearing a rash guard

Here are some advantages of rash guards over regular swimsuits:

Sun Protection

Rash guards with special UV ray protection are produced from fabrics with a UV protection factor (UPF) of 50 or above. While sunscreen is only as good as how long you apply it, a long sleeve rash guard can totally protect your upper torso without leaving any regions unprotected.

Prevents Chafing and Rashes

Wearing a rash guard while partaking in water activities is an effective method to avoid skin abrasions. Rashies reduce friction caused by constant body motions and rubbing against aqua gear and saltwater by covering the body’s most sensitive regions.

Ease of Movement

Rash guards are made of lightweight materials that fit snugly around your body and dry fast. You can easily move when immersed underwater while wearing one of them.

Jellyfish Protection

The rash guard will provide appropriate protection from aquatic irritants and jellyfish stings for scuba divers, surfers, and snorkelers who don’t want to wear a wetsuit.

Thermal Coverage

Rash guards come in a variety of thicknesses to provide sufficient heat protection. While thermal rash guards can’t wholly replace wetsuits in terms of heat retention, you can wear them underneath to add an extra layer of warmth while exploring cool, deep waters. Once you’re out on the beach, the rash guard’s quick-drying fabric will help you warm up much faster.


The rash guard is a versatile material that can be worn as an inside layer or an exterior layer and performs various functions. It’s available in a variety of styles to provide the right amount of coverage without restricting movement. You can go for either a short sleeve, sleeveless, or long sleeve rash guard in the fit that best befits the situation.  

How to Pick the Proper Rash Guard

woman wearing a rash guard posing

The best rash guard to choose from depends on the type of activity you’ll be engaged in while wearing it.


You can get a rash guard in a particular fabric, depending on your requirements.

  • Lycra: Lycra is a lightweight, breathable fabric with a lot of stretch. A rash guard made of lycra dries rapidly and prevents chafing.
  • Neoprene: Rash guards made of neoprene keep you warm while swimming in cold water. The fabric is primarily used as a thermal insulator and maintains its flexibility across a wide temperature range.
  • Polyester: Polyester rash vests are airy and efficient in absorbing extra moisture from your skin while you sweat. Because of their limited flexibility and stretch, it’s best to use them for activities that don’t need continuous movement.
  • Nylon-Spandex: A nylon-spandex combination is breathable, form-fitting, and stretchable. This fabric is also quick-drying, making it ideal for rash guards.


When picking a rash guard, the length of the sleeves is also significant. You can choose from three options:

  • Long Sleeve Rash Guard: Long sleeve rash vests cover your entire body up to your wrists. This type of rash guard is your best chance to protect your skin if you’re planning to do something that requires many intense motions against saltwater or scuba gear. They’re also ideal for cool waters where the temperature isn’t quite cold enough for a complete wetsuit, as they provide just the proper amount of insulation.
  • Short-Sleeve Rash Guard: Short sleeve rashies will only cover your shoulders and torso. They’re perfect for regular swimming and light water sports on hot summer days when worn alone. Deep-sea explorers choose this style of rash vest as a supplement to their scuba gear. They also add a layer of protection from waterborne irritants and give additional insulation.
  • Sleeveless Rash Guard: Among the three varieties, sleeveless or tank rash guards provide the least amount of coverage. They’re frequently worn underneath wetsuits, just like short-sleeve rashies, to keep scuba divers warm. Rash guards with this cut offer the extra benefit of putting less pressure on the shoulders and arms.


Flatlock stitching generates a seam that rests flat against the garment rather than dangling loosely, giving comfort and strength for exercise and activewear.


Rash vests are classified into two types: skin-tight and loose-fit rash guards. A body-hugging fit is suggested in general, especially if you will use activewear for aquatic sports. Rash guards that are skin-tight allow for uninhibited movement while also removing the distracting presence of excess material flapping around you.

Furthermore, loose swimwear causes additional water resistance, slowing you down and prohibiting you from performing underwater moves to your full potential. That isn’t to imply that rash guards with a loose fit aren’t acceptable.

Loose-fitting rashies are more than adequate to give you your money’s worth if you’re heading to the pool or beach for the sole intention of relaxation and leisure. Lounging in these garments is better for practicality and comfort because they are usually more breathable than their snug counterparts.