If you've already been to the beach this summer, you may have noticed other beachgoers sporting stylish bathing suits called rash guards that resemble long-sleeved crewnecks. If you're wondering why these folks aren't donning the traditional beach getaway attire, you'll be surprised to know that there is much more to a rash guard swimsuit than just covering up.

What Is A Rash Guard?

couple rash guards

A rash guard is a fitted swimsuit top that is made from breathable, flexible spandex. Surfers typically wear rash guards to prevent painful rashes or abrasions caused by sliding their bodies on and off a rough surfboard covered in a waxy residue.

Although the rash guard's primary purpose is to prevent surfers' rashes, you'll see plenty of non-surfers wearing this protective suit. You're probably wondering why they are wearing a rash guard if it's meant for surfers.

A rash guard swimsuit can protect our bodies from many other harmful elements. A rash guard not to be confused with a wetsuit does not offer water-resistant insulation from cold waters as a wetsuit would. However, a rash guard can be used to keep your body warmer as an extra layer of protection when it's too hot to put on a full wetsuit.

Anyone who loves to swim in the sea will also understand the benefits of wearing a suit with fuller coverage to defend against foreign ocean particles that find their way onto the skin. Not only is this annoying, but it can also be potentially irritating for those with sensitive skin.

Another excellent reason to wear a rashguard would be to add extra prevention against sunburns. Although wearing a rash guard is not an excuse to not wear sunblock, it will offer an extra layer of protection to the skin as many rash guards are made from materials with Ultraviolet Protection Factors (UPF).

Should You Purchase A Rash Guard?

child rash guard

A rash guard has many benefits, especially for those that enjoy spending a considerable amount of time in the sun. Whether your family enjoys swimming, hanging out on the shore, or enjoying other water activities, such as boating or attending a water theme park, the rashguard is an excellent bathing suit choice for active families.

For many adventurous families that don't surf, the main draw to a rash guard will be added sun protection and the iconic beach bum style. The rash guard is also a popular choice for babies or younger children, who often avoid breaking away from the sun to relax under an umbrella or beach tent.

When on the hunt for a rash guard, you'll notice that many of them include UPF rating for built-in UV protection. But keep in mind that you may come across swim shirts that are similar to rash guards in the way that many provide UV protection.

However, unlike traditional rash guards, a swim shirt will fit loosely around the body, causing it to float up when in the water, making it a less than superior choice for active water activities such as surfing, as the material gets in the way.

If you don't surf or plan to participate in active water games, this should not affect you. But do keep in mind that a looser fit may defeat the purpose of UV protection if you're planning on being very active, as the skin will be exposed at times since it's not tightly fitted to the body.

Women interested in purchasing a rash guard may question whether it's a good choice, with concerns about support. The good news is that women can still pull off this protective look by wearing a traditional bikini top under the rash guard for extra support on the most active days.

Our Four Top Rash Guard Picks For The Family

1. O'Neill Men's Basic Skins UPF 50+ Long Sleeve Rash Guard

rash guard men

O'Neill's men's performance fit rash guard is perfect for surfing, paddleboarding, swimming, or relaxing at the beach. Feel at ease while at play with this rash guard, as it will undoubtedly protect you from harsher elements.

Tight-fitting, with flexible second-skin-like fabric made from both comfortable polyester and spandex, has limited seam placement for maximum protection against rashes. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends this rash guard for its UPF 50+ ultraviolet protection.

If you're seeking a rash guard with a looser fit, check out the O'Neill wetsuits men's basic skins 50+ long sleeve sun shirt.

2. TSLA Women's UPF 50+ Rash Guard Long Sleeve

woman rash guard

The women's TSLA rash guard is durable, yet comfortable providing excellent protection against rashes, abrasions, and harmful UV rays with its outstanding UPF 50+ coverage. Like many rash guards for women, the TSLA suit does not have built-in support so it's recommended to wear a bikini top underneath.

3. O'Neill Youth Basic Skins UPF 50+ Sun Shirt

youth rash guard

Kids will love this comfortable, looser-fitting rash guard for long days at the beach. This affordable rash-guard is priced lower than O'Neill's surf gear; however, it still provides excellent 50+ UVPF sun protection so parents won't have to worry about their littles getting too much sun. The O'Neills youth rash guard comes in many colors, so your child is able to show off their unique style. The O'Neill youth rash guard will fit children sizes four through 16.

4. Primary One-Piece Rash Guard in Rainbow Stripe

girls rash guard

Not only will your child be protected from the elements, but they'll also look stylish while wearing this darling one-piece rash guard. The Primary one-piece long sleeve guard has a UPF of 50 and is made sustainably with recycled materials. This piece comes in sizes 2 thru 12 and is a real bargain as it is a complete set whereas other rash guards require you to purchase separate bottoms.

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