How to Choose a Rash Guard: 10 Tips

woman in thermal rash guard

How do you choose your best rash guard? When it comes to buying your best rash guard there is so much to think about: price, quality are just a few to name.

You may even wonder if you truly need a rash guard, to begin with, and what the heck is the difference between a rash guard and a thermal one?

These were a few questions I first had when it came to buying my first rash guard. Well, don’t worry because we got you covered.

These are 10 things worth considering while deciding what to get. So, read along. 


A Rash guard is a type of athletic clothing that was made to protect the skin from:

  • Sun’s rays 
  • Cuts or scrapes 

While being in the water. In contrast, a thermal rash guard offers the same protection but generally has neoprene in it. According to Sewport, neoprene is a type of synthetic rubber.

This material has been found amongst several apparel types because it is known to help keep the skin warm. 

Generally, you don’t need to own one if you seldom participate in outdoor water activities. Surfing, paddleboarding, snorkeling, or scuba diving are just a few mentioned.

girl wearing her best rash guard
Photo by Guy Kawasaki 

And if you tend to be in warm waters you don’t really need one. When my sister and I both lived in Florida going swimming or paddleboarding was just fine with my regular rash guard.

But, when we moved back to California I had to get a rash guard due to the colder water temperatures. These were a few differences between the Florida and California coastlines. 

Just because you don’t need one doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t own one. For instance, it has become a custom amongst some to wear at pools.

Where they use them as a form of comfort instead of a bathing suit or for protection from the sun, especially if they have a tendency of getting sunburned easily.

So, to answer that question if you really need a rash guard? It’s up to preference.

girl smiling
Photo by Conner Baker


When it came to buying my first rash guard due to paddleboarding I outlined some things that would be important in helping me find my best rash guard.


Most rash guards will be composed of these materials:

  • Spandex
  • Polyester 
  • Nylon

Moreover, sometimes you will see Lycra as well. This is the same thing as elastane which is called Spandex in the United States.

But, Lycra is a branded company that has patented its own line of Spandex. 


There are different types of rash guards. Besides being loose or tight-fitting as previously mentioned you also have different types. 

  • Long-Sleeved 
  • Short-sleeved
  • Sleeveless 
  • Thermal (neoprene) for warmth 

It’s often recommended to choose a rash guard that is long-sleeved and is thermal. This is ideal for those who do snorkeling or scuba diving.

As you go further deep into the ocean the water becomes much colder. These types of rash guards are known to keep your body warm.

girl with surfboard
Photo by City of Gold Coast


There are several forms of rash guards when it comes to fitting. 

  • Loose
  • Tight

Loose rash guards are as the name implies loose on the body. They are often recommended for less strenuous water activities like stand up paddleboarding. 

On the other hand, tighter fitted ones are the exact opposite. They are meant to be tight to your skin.

This becomes an ideal choice for someone who often participates in strenuous water activities.

If you’re surfing or swimming you don’t want to worry about having the rash guard moving all over the place while being in the water. 


Some rash guards have additional features to them:

  • Pockets
  • Hooded

A common one is pockets. Having zipped pockets is an added bonus for those wanting to store things. Another feature worth mentioning is having a hooded rash guard.

Which allows for protection amongst the head and neck. 


Does it have the option of having Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) of at least 50? UPF50 is perceived as the highest sun blockage amount to the skin.

Clothing fabric must have at least a UPF rating of 30 for a Seal of Recommendation from The Skin Cancer Foundation.


If you are constantly outdoors participating in many outdoor activities then a rash guard that isn’t chlorine resistant shouldn’t matter. 

However, if you like having the option of using your rash guard as much as possible and even at the swimming pool then make sure it’s chlorine resistant. 

This will allow it to last longer in chlorinating environments. 


For some women having a preference for a rash guard that carries a built-in bra is a plus. For it allows for support and coverage. Not having to worry about wearing an extra piece of clothing under a bikini top.

As well as feeling confident nothing gets exposed accidentally. 

For others, this isn’t much of an issue. In which some don’t mind having to put under an extra piece of clothing. I usually opt for one that offers this feature.


So, depending on what your budget is will determine how to choose a rash guard that is ideal for you.

When it comes to price expect brand rash guards to cost anywhere more than $100 and cheap rash guards to be as little as $40.

I once worked extra hours babysitting to buy my first rash guard from

How to Choose a Rash Guard Pin 1


When it comes to returns they can either be easy or a hassle. This becomes more of an issue if it’s been ordered online.

You order something and it finally arrives only to become bummed because it doesn’t fit right or isn’t what you expected.

Now you want to return it. Make sure before you order to check out the company’s return policy.

  • Do they accept returns or all sales final?
  • Do you have to pay out of pocket shipping to return an item?
  • Do they offer store credit or does it go back to your card?

Company Mission

Some companies go above and beyond others. Their purpose can be seen through their products embarking their legacy.

For example, AnowiSurfwear makes sustainable rash guards from recycled polyester and spandex fabrics. They also ship your package from 100% recycled materials including the sticker.

It’s important to support those companies that leave a good lasting impression on you based on their product and mission.


When it comes to who makes the best rash guards out there. There are many names that stand out. Akona, Quicksilver, and Hurley are just a few well-known brands.

You can’t go wrong with how to choose a rash guard from these brands. It all depends on what your top preferences are. Just remember that if you do buy any rash guard look at the reviews and quality of the item.

Often times if a lot of reviews are negative pointing to the quality or design that should give you a heads up as to whether buying it would be ideal. But, in the end, choose what makes you feel good.

girl in ocean


So, there you have it. So if you’re wondering how to choose a rash guard? These are a few things worth considering. Mostly, at the end of the day, it comes down to personal preference.

For me, support along with being chlorine resistant was a top priority. The reason being is I don’t like wearing anything extra under unless I have too and I would like to use my rash guard once in a while when I’m swimming in a pool.

Let us know in the comments below what are some of your favorite rash guards. And what things do you consider when looking to buy one.

Be safe out there in the waters and don’t forget to put on sunscreen.

Jess and Jeanette
About Jess and Jeanette

Jess and Jeanette are two sisters who created Unseen Beaches. This beach travel site was inspired by their family beach vacations while growing up. Helping you discover the best U.S. beach destinations worth visiting, staying, and eating at.

unseenbeaches about us pic

Hi! This is Jess and Jeanette. Two sisters & beach travelers. We built this blog to share our travels in hopes of helping you plan your next beach vacation. Cheers! ❤️


You May Also Like…


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

waikiki hawaii guide for families snorkeling in the water

🌊 Wondering How To Plan Your Next Beach Vacation?

• Discover The Best Sunny Destinations in the US

• Learn How To Plan Your Perfect Beach Vacation

Subscribe To Explore New Beaches


Thanks! Check your email!