Guide to Rash Guards for the Beach and Pool

Also known as rashies or rash vests, rash guards are fitted athletic garments specially designed for water sports or athletic wear. It’s named rash guards to prevent chafing or grazing one’s skin against a surfboard, thus guarding the skin against rashes. Today, rash guards are worn not just for catching waves, but also for a variety of water activities like snorkeling, scuba diving, windsurfing, kayaking, bodyboarding and more. Some people prefer to wear rash guards instead of swimsuits for swimming and hanging out by the pool or beach.

Benefits of Rash Guards

While it’s pricier than other alternatives, high-quality rash guards are worthy investments, in case you are into water sports, competitive sports, or even for simple vacations. Here are some of the advantages of rash guards over regular swimsuits:

Prevents rashes and chafing

Wearing a rash guard is an effective way to prevent skin abrasions while you’re outdoors in the waters. Its primary purpose is to protect the skin from cuts, rashes, and abrasions that can be caused by the sand, saltwater, and waxy residue on the surfboards. By covering the body, rashies decrease friction as a result of continuous body movements and rubbing. For scuba divers, they usually wear a rash guard inside their wetsuits because wearing swimsuits alone at extended periods of time can cause chafing and rashes.

Provides extra layer of warmth

Rash guards are created in varied thickness to give appropriate thermal coverage. While it cannot replace wetsuits when it comes to retaining heat, thermal rash guards can be worn to provide an extra layer of warmth as you explore the colder, deep waters. Thermal rash guards are usually created fir water sports and aqua aerobics. And once you’re back on the sand or off the pool, the fast-drying fabric of rash guards will not keep you cold but will help you warm up much faster.

Offers sun protection

Are you tired of getting sunburnt while enjoying the sea or pool? Rash guards are designed to provide extra coverage to protect the skin against the sun’s harmful rays. Some are even made to include UPF (ultraviolet protection factors) 50+ for built-in UV protection. However, rash guards like these are not made to replace sunscreen lotion – these two work together as a dynamic duo to ensure efficient sun protection.

Ease of movement

Rash guards are designed to have a snug fit and are made of lightweight, quick-drying fabrics. While you wear a rash guard, you can move easily while you’re submerged underwater.

Protects against sea elements

For people who are surfing, snorkeling, and scuba diving and do not want to wear a wetsuit, a rash guard will offer adequate protection against foreign sea particles, waterborne irritants, and jellyfish stings. It can provide added coverage and protection to your more intimate and sensitive body parts.


Whether you’re riding the waves, diving to see the underwater scenes, or just want to sport a surfer look, rash guards are a key piece for your beach look. Rash guards are available in different colors, designs, patterns and prints. If you want to take your look up a notch, pair your rash guard with a matching bottom for a standout style. Rash guards are available in short sleeves, long sleeves, or sleeveless, so you can choose what’s best for you.

How to Choose a Rash Guard

Choosing the best rash guard depends on the sort of activity you’ll be doing while wearing it, but there are also factors to consider when picking one.


Rash guards are of two kinds: skin-tight and loose-fit. Generally, a skin-tight rash guard is recommended, especially if you want to use it for water sports. When the rash guard is tight, it allows unrestricted movement and eliminates distractions. Loose swimwear also means higher water resistance, which can hinder your speed and prevent you from maneuvering properly underwater. However, if you’re on the beach or pool just for leisure and relaxation, loose-fit rashies are more than enough. Since they are more breathable than their tight counterparts, lounging around and swimming in these garments is a better option when it comes to comfort and practicality.


Depending on what you need a rash guard for and your budget considerations, you can get a rash guard in a specific kind of fabric.

  • Lycra – This is a breathable fabric that offers great flexibility. A rash guard made of Lycra will prevent chafing and is also quick-drying. Its durability and flexibility makes it a bit more expensive than other materials.
  • Neoprene – Rash guards made of neoprene works best as a thermal insulator. This fabric can maintain flexibility even under wide range of temperatures.
  • Nylon-spandex –A nylon-spandex rash guards are stretchable, breathable, and form-fitting. Rash guards that are made from this fabric are also quick-drying.
  • Polyester – Polyester rashies are breathable, and can wick out moisture from the skin when you sweat. It’s durable, but the stretch and flexibility are limited, so it’s best used in activities that doesn’t demand continuous movements. Polyester rash guards are cheaper than those made of other kinds of fabric.


Rash guards are available in different designs, but the main difference in terms of style is the sleeve length. With rashies, you have three options:

Long-sleeve rash guards – These things go up to your wrists, giving full coverage for your upper body. This type of rash guard is great for activities that involve a lot of intense movements against salt water or scuba gear. It’s also recommended for use in cool waters that don’t have temperatures cold enough to need a full wetsuit, as these can offer just the right amount of insulation.

Where to Buy
Ekouaer Womens Forest Leaves Printing High Neck Halter Bikini Set Swimsuit XS-XXL
Vetinee Women's Halter Self Tie Twist Knot Ruched Two-Piece Bikini Set Swimsuit
Becca by Rebecca Virtue Women's Courtney Crochet Banded Halter Bikini Top
CUPSHE Women's Black Lace Up Halter Padding Bikini Set
beautyin Womens Floral Striped Halter High Neck Bikini Swimsuit Set Cross Back

Short-sleeve rash guards – These kinds of rash guards cover the torso and extend only up to the shoulders to a part of the upper arm. When worn alone, it’s suitable for light water sports and regular swimming. This is also commonly used by deep-sea explorers as supplementary scuba gear. It also offers extra layer of protection from underwater irritants and an extra layer of protection to the body.

Where to Buy
Kanu Surf Men's Mercury UPF 50+ Short Sleeve Sun Protective Rashguard Swim Shirt
Roxy Women's Whole Hearted Short Sleeve Rashguard
Quiksilver Men's Solid Streak Ss Short Sleeve Rashguard Surf Shirt
O'Neill Men's Basic Skins UPF 50+ Short Sleeve Rash Guard
TSLA Women's Half-Zip Front Rash Guard, UPF 50+ Side Adjustable Short Sleeve Swim Shirts, UV/Sun Protection Wetsuit Swimsuit


Sleeveless rash guards – Also known as tank rash guards, sleeveless rash guards offer the least amount of coverage. They are typically worn underneath wetsuits. Most people, especially men, prefer it to use for swimming or other water sports because it imposes less constriction on the shoulders and arms.

Where to Buy
O'Neill Men's Hybrid UPF 50+ Sleeveless Sun Shirt
TSLA Women's Sleeveless Rash Guard Swimwear, UPF 50+ Zip Front Tankini Swim Shirts, Quick Dry Swimsuit Top with Built in Bra
Nike Essential Sleeveless Hydroguard
Koloa Surf Classic Wave Logo Moisture Wicking Sleeveless T-Shirts. Sizes: XS-4XL
AXESEA Womens Retro One Piece Swimsuit Sleeveless Printed Surfing Bathing Suit