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Rash Guard Buying Guide

 

By Steve Kopitz

 

A decade ago, ski and snowboard helmets were few and far between. But now it’s hard to find someone on the mountain who isn’t protecting their head. For watersports, Rash Guards are the new must have item, and as skin cancer awareness rises, the more accepted Rash Guards are becoming.

 

But they do more than just protect your skin from the harsh rays of the sun…

 

Rash Guards can often be used for an added layer in cold water, as well as protection against the sun, preventing irritation on the skin. They can be worn on their own or under a wetsuit or board shorts.

 

 

What does a Rash Guard do?

 

Guards against Rashes!

 

When a surfer is paddling out to catch that next big wave they will usually lay on their stomachs and work their way into the ocean. Shifting the body along the top of a surfboard can cause wax-based chafing or abrasions so wearing a Rash Guard can prevent you from being uncomfortable during this process.

 

If you’re a wakeboarder, water-skier or participate in other water sports, a Rash Guard can be used to prevent any irritation caused when you hit the water from a fall.

 

You can also wear a Rash Guard under a wetsuit to prevent any chafing as well.

 

 

Wearing a Rash Guard

 

 

Sun Protection:

 

Many Rash Guards come equipped with UV protection. Although it’s always advised to wear suntan lotion, a Rash Guard is a great way to prevent the body from getting burned.

 

It’s not uncommon for suntan lotion and rash guards to have a little disagreement though. A Rash Guard could lose some of its color where the lotion is applied. The simple solution to avoiding discoloration – wait until the suntan lotion dries before putting on your Rash Guard. This way you get all the sun protection you want without ruining your clothes.

 

Rash Guards come with different UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) ratings. These ratings are the same as suntan lotion ratings. A UPF rating of +15 will protect you somewhat against the sun’s UV rays but not nearly as much as a UPF rating of +50 (the maximum amount of protection).

 

Be mindful of this rating when shopping for your Rash Guard. Not all Rash Guards have sun protection, some just simply guard against rashes.

 

Children are especially susceptible to the harmful rays of the sun. As their bodies and skin develops, the sun has the opportunity to cause more lasting and long term damage. Make sure the kids wear their suntan lotion as well as a Rash Guard.

 

The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends Rash Guards as an effective UV protectant.

 

 

Woman Wearing a Rash Guard

 

 

Extra Layer:

 

For those who spend time in cold water, a Rash Guard can be an extra layer of warmth underneath a wetsuit.

 

  • Different Kinds of Rash Guards:
  •  
  • Short Sleeve Shirts
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  • Long Sleeve Shirts
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  • Tanks
  •  
  • Shorts

 

The fit of a Rash Guard can vary so be mindful of where you plan on using it as well as water temperature. For instance, a Long Sleeve Rash Guard may not be the best choice if you’re surfing in the tropics.

 

There are some Rash Guards that are looser fit, but most are tighter to the skin which provides the best overall protection.

 

The tighter fits tend to have less bulk and more breathability. If you’re worried about sweating while wearing tight-fitting Rash Guards, worry not, most are breathable enough so that you don’t overheat. Rash guards are available in mens, womens and kids sizes.

 

Overall, the materials used in Rash Guards (usually a nylon poly stretchy soft material) are quick-drying regardless of the fit and will protect against the sun.