Understanding Swim Shirts vs Rash Guards vs Sun Shirts

rashguard/sunshirt
sunbuster


When it comes to protective clothing, we often joke that "real women bring their own protection." But as enthusiastic athletes and lovers of the outdoors, we take it really seriously. We believe in helping women protect their skin from harmful UV rays that may cause skin cancer, so we make swimsuits with sun protection built in, and a variety of other forms of sun protection clothing for all kinds of outdoor activities.

We also believe in helping you find the right gear for whatever you're into – and we know that sometimes it can be confusing. With that in mind, we've pulled together your most frequently asked questions in this FAQ, so you can find the right kind of UPF that won't wash off.


What are rash guards?

Originally created (and named) for surfers, rash guards are designed to protect against the kind of rash you might get against a sandy surfboard, or from the chafing of a neoprene wetsuit. Designed with built in sun protection, these long sleeve or short sleeve surf shirts have UPF protection built in, to keep sunburns and sand burns off your shoulders. Typically constructed with UPF 50 fabric, they are form-fitting and sometimes compressive, and designed to be worn with swimwear. Some rash guards are even made to provide an extra layer of warmth in chilly waters

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What is a swim shirt?

Swim shirts, sometimes called surf shirts, are designed to provide you with protection from UV radiation that won't wash off. As swimwear, swim and surf shirts have comfortable, chafe-free seams just like their rashguard cousins. Unlike a rashguard, however, swim shirts tend to be more like regular clothing, providing you with UPF 50 protection in a loose fit. While this may create a bit more drag and water flow during surf sessions, it may also be more comfortable to wear along the boardwalk. The distinction is mostly a personal preference.

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What is a sun shirt?

A sun shirt is a type of UPF clothing better suited for activities out of the water than in it. These often have wicking properties along with their UPF rating, but tend to have a loose fit when compared to a rash guard or rash vest. This may make them more comfortable to wear throughout your day, whether you are just back from surfing and peeling off your wet suit, out for a jog, or doing yard work under a hot sun. While these tops will protect you from harmful UV rays, they're not designed to swim in, so they are not limited by flattened seams and can come in a wider variety of styles and colors, including long sleeve, short sleeve, hoodie, and button-up.

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Will a rash guard, swim shirt, or sun shirt prevent sunburn?

All three of these types of sun protection clothing will help protect your skin from the harmful UV rays that can cause skin cancer. While most of our protective clothing is made from a UPF 50 fabric, each piece will have a UPF rating under the item details. Keep in mind that t-shirts offer very little UV protection – so any built-in UPF will provide more protection against sunburn than a regular t-shirt or even a regular long sleeve shirt. Keep in mind that sunscreen should still be worn on your face and chest, or other areas not protected by your clothing.

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What is the difference between a swim shirt and a rash guard?

The main difference between a swim shirt and a rash guard is the fit. Because rashguards are designed for surfing or other higher intensity water sports, they are more like a water-ready compression shirt. By contrast, swim shirts are designed to protect against UV rays while also being comfortable. In other words, your size in a rash guard will fit tighter than your size in a swim shirt. As a result, you may feel more comfortable wearing a swim shirt or sun shirt around town – but it's really all about personal preference.

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What is the difference between a swim shirt and a sun shirt?

Sun shirts are the most different from swim shirts or rash guards. Unlike their swimwear cousins, sun shirts are not designed to be submerged in water, which means they are not limited to certain seams or shapes. They tend to have a loose and casual fit, and a variety of styles and colors available. While you will certainly see this swimwear in both long sleeve and short sleeve styles, sun shirts are more versatile, and are also made in hoodie, cover-up and button-up cuts.

BACK TO TOP


Should I get a rash guard or a swim shirt?

Well, that depends! Both rash guards and swim shirts offer protection from the sun, so it depends what level of activity you think you’ll be doing, what temeperature the water will be, and whether you are looking for a compression shirt or not. Are you looking to surf some serious swells, and comfortable in a tighter fitting shirt, or are you more interested in taking a loose fit seaside – for UPF sun protection that fits in on and off the board? The choice is yours.

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Should a swim shirt be tight or loose?

If you order your size in a swim shirt, the fit should be loose and comfortable. If you're interested in a tighter fitting sun protection shirt, you might prefer a rash guard.

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Should rash guards be tight?

Yes and no. Rash guards should be form-fitting, since they're designed to protect your skin from sun damage and chafage without slowing you down. Your normal size in a rash guard should be a bit tighter than a typical shirt. However, nothing should be too tight. When trying on a rash guard, make sure you have a full range of motion in your arms. It should be snug, but not uncomfortable.

BACK TO TOP


Are sun shirts and swim shirts hot?

Sun and swim shirts are designed to protect your skin from harmful rays without overheating. They typically have wicking and cooling properties built in. If you're looking to add warmth in the water, you may find a better fit in a rash shirt or rash guard – which are sometimes even made with neoprene for extra warmth

BACK TO TOP


Are rash guards hot?

Rash guards, especially long sleeve rash guards, are the warmest type of protective clothing that we offer, but that doesn't mean that they are hot! Most are made of the same water ready fabric as swim shirts, though you can find them made of thin neoprene (the same fabric used for wetsuits) if you're looking for something warmer.

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Are rash guards UV protection?

Yes! All of our sun protection clothing will help protect your skin from harmful UV rays. Check the item details for information on what SPF level they are equivalent to.

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Can rash guards be used for swimming?

Of course! They are designed for swimming and surfing and all sorts of water sports. Swim shirts are another great option, if you prefer something more loose.

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What do you wear under a rash guard or swim shirt?

Women typically wear a swim suit top or one piece swimsuit under a rash guard or swim shirt for extra modesty. However, it's all a matter of personal comfort. We'd recommend not going topless under a white one, though!

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What do you wear under a sun shirt?

Like rash guards and swim shirts, you could wear a sports bikini top under a sun shirt. However, since these are not swimwear, you could also wear a sports bra, normal bra or no bra - depending on how you intend to spend your day!

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Understanding Swim Shirts vs Rash Guards vs Sun Shirts

rashguard/sunshirt
sunbuster


When it comes to protective clothing, we often joke that "real women bring their own protection." But as enthusiastic athletes and lovers of the outdoors, we take it really seriously. We believe in helping women protect their skin from harmful UV rays that may cause skin cancer, so we make swimsuits with sun protection built in, and a variety of other forms of sun protection clothing for all kinds of outdoor activities.

We also believe in helping you find the right gear for whatever you're into – and we know that sometimes it can be confusing. With that in mind, we've pulled together your most frequently asked questions in this FAQ, so you can find the right kind of UPF that won't wash off.


What are rash guards?

Originally created (and named) for surfers, rash guards are designed to protect against the kind of rash you might get against a sandy surfboard, or from the chafing of a neoprene wetsuit. Designed with built in sun protection, these long sleeve or short sleeve surf shirts have UPF protection built in, to keep sunburns and sand burns off your shoulders. Typically constructed with UPF 50 fabric, they are form-fitting and sometimes compressive, and designed to be worn with swimwear. Some rash guards are even made to provide an extra layer of warmth in chilly waters

BACK TO TOP


What is a swim shirt?

Swim shirts, sometimes called surf shirts, are designed to provide you with protection from UV radiation that won't wash off. As swimwear, swim and surf shirts have comfortable, chafe-free seams just like their rashguard cousins. Unlike a rashguard, however, swim shirts tend to be more like regular clothing, providing you with UPF 50 protection in a loose fit. While this may create a bit more drag and water flow during surf sessions, it may also be more comfortable to wear along the boardwalk. The distinction is mostly a personal preference.

BACK TO TOP


What is a sun shirt?

A sun shirt is a type of UPF clothing better suited for activities out of the water than in it. These often have wicking properties along with their UPF rating, but tend to have a loose fit when compared to a rash guard or rash vest. This may make them more comfortable to wear throughout your day, whether you are just back from surfing and peeling off your wet suit, out for a jog, or doing yard work under a hot sun. While these tops will protect you from harmful UV rays, they're not designed to swim in, so they are not limited by flattened seams and can come in a wider variety of styles and colors, including long sleeve, short sleeve, hoodie, and button-up.

BACK TO TOP


Will a rash guard, swim shirt, or sun shirt prevent sunburn?

All three of these types of sun protection clothing will help protect your skin from the harmful UV rays that can cause skin cancer. While most of our protective clothing is made from a UPF 50 fabric, each piece will have a UPF rating under the item details. Keep in mind that t-shirts offer very little UV protection – so any built-in UPF will provide more protection against sunburn than a regular t-shirt or even a regular long sleeve shirt. Keep in mind that sunscreen should still be worn on your face and chest, or other areas not protected by your clothing.

BACK TO TOP


What is the difference between a swim shirt and a rash guard?

The main difference between a swim shirt and a rash guard is the fit. Because rashguards are designed for surfing or other higher intensity water sports, they are more like a water-ready compression shirt. By contrast, swim shirts are designed to protect against UV rays while also being comfortable. In other words, your size in a rash guard will fit tighter than your size in a swim shirt. As a result, you may feel more comfortable wearing a swim shirt or sun shirt around town – but it's really all about personal preference.

BACK TO TOP


What is the difference between a swim shirt and a sun shirt?

Sun shirts are the most different from swim shirts or rash guards. Unlike their swimwear cousins, sun shirts are not designed to be submerged in water, which means they are not limited to certain seams or shapes. They tend to have a loose and casual fit, and a variety of styles and colors available. While you will certainly see this swimwear in both long sleeve and short sleeve styles, sun shirts are more versatile, and are also made in hoodie, cover-up and button-up cuts.

BACK TO TOP


Should I get a rash guard or a swim shirt?

Well, that depends! Both rash guards and swim shirts offer protection from the sun, so it depends what level of activity you think you’ll be doing, what temeperature the water will be, and whether you are looking for a compression shirt or not. Are you looking to surf some serious swells, and comfortable in a tighter fitting shirt, or are you more interested in taking a loose fit seaside – for UPF sun protection that fits in on and off the board? The choice is yours.

BACK TO TOP


Should a swim shirt be tight or loose?

If you order your size in a swim shirt, the fit should be loose and comfortable. If you're interested in a tighter fitting sun protection shirt, you might prefer a rash guard.

BACK TO TOP


Should rash guards be tight?

Yes and no. Rash guards should be form-fitting, since they're designed to protect your skin from sun damage and chafage without slowing you down. Your normal size in a rash guard should be a bit tighter than a typical shirt. However, nothing should be too tight. When trying on a rash guard, make sure you have a full range of motion in your arms. It should be snug, but not uncomfortable.

BACK TO TOP


Are sun shirts and swim shirts hot?

Sun and swim shirts are designed to protect your skin from harmful rays without overheating. They typically have wicking and cooling properties built in. If you're looking to add warmth in the water, you may find a better fit in a rash shirt or rash guard – which are sometimes even made with neoprene for extra warmth

BACK TO TOP


Are rash guards hot?

Rash guards, especially long sleeve rash guards, are the warmest type of protective clothing that we offer, but that doesn't mean that they are hot! Most are made of the same water ready fabric as swim shirts, though you can find them made of thin neoprene (the same fabric used for wetsuits) if you're looking for something warmer.

BACK TO TOP


Are rash guards UV protection?

Yes! All of our sun protection clothing will help protect your skin from harmful UV rays. Check the item details for information on what SPF level they are equivalent to.

BACK TO TOP


Can rash guards be used for swimming?

Of course! They are designed for swimming and surfing and all sorts of water sports. Swim shirts are another great option, if you prefer something more loose.

BACK TO TOP


What do you wear under a rash guard or swim shirt?

Women typically wear a swim suit top or one piece swimsuit under a rash guard or swim shirt for extra modesty. However, it's all a matter of personal comfort. We'd recommend not going topless under a white one, though!

BACK TO TOP


What do you wear under a sun shirt?

Like rash guards and swim shirts, you could wear a sports bikini top under a sun shirt. However, since these are not swimwear, you could also wear a sports bra, normal bra or no bra - depending on how you intend to spend your day!

BACK TO TOP



Sunbuster 2.0 Long Sleeve Sun Shirt Sunbuster 2.0 Long Sleeve Sun Shirt
$65
Sunbuster 2.0 Short Sleeve Sun Shirt Sunbuster 2.0 Short Sleeve Sun Shirt
$59
Sunbuster 2.0 Full Zip Hoodie Sun Shirt Sunbuster 2.0 Full Zip Hoodie Sun Shirt
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Keep Your Cool Sun Shirt - Multi Stripe Keep Your Cool Sun Shirt - Multi Stripe
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Svelte Sunbuster Long Sleeve Top Svelte Sunbuster Long Sleeve Top
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Sunbuster 1/4 Zip Pullover - Waimea Sunbuster 1/4 Zip Pullover - Waimea
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Sunbuster Short Sleeve Pullover - Solid Sunbuster Short Sleeve Pullover - Solid
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Shaka Short Sleeve Sun Shirt - Alana Shaka Short Sleeve Sun Shirt - Alana
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Endless Summer Short Sleeve Rash Guard Endless Summer Short Sleeve Rash Guard
Price reduced from $52 to $19
Sunbuster Long Sleeve Hoodie - Kiyomi Sunbuster Long Sleeve Hoodie - Kiyomi
Price reduced from $79 to $69
Go Natural Wetsuit Jacket Go Natural Wetsuit Jacket
Price reduced from $129 to $79

Swim Shirts vs Sun Shirts vs Rash Guards