And why should you buy one? If you grew up in Australia, as Coolibar founder John Barrow did, you already know the answers to these questions. If you didn’t, allow us to explain.
A rash guard is almost always a shirt, specifically one that’s worn in or around water. This might seem strange; after all, we have swim shirts and wraps and beach cover ups that do the same thing, right? But the original Australian rash guard was called a rash guard (or “rashie”) for its ability to protect against rashes.
In the beginning, rash guards were almost exclusively for men. Almost all of these men were surfers and most of the rashes came from chafing – against fast-moving water, or against sand caught in waxed surfboards. These rash guards fit very tightly so they didn’t rub against the skin at all; sometimes people even used them underneath wet suits to protect them from neoprene chafing.
Rash guards were normally fashioned from combinations of polyester, nylon, lycra or spandex for stretch, breathability and quick-drying properties.
All of the above is still true today. But nowadays you don’t have to surf to wear a rash guard (in fact there are specialized rash guards for a variety of sports including baseball).
You don’t have to be a guy, either – women’s rash guards are available in a range of colors and styles.
In fact: you don’t even have to be athletic to wear a rash guard. It helps…but it’s no longer necessary.
Much of this is because many of the “rashes” that today’s rash guards prevent are not caused by surfboards or saltwater or too much body motion. Rash guards today actually guard against the sun’s UV rays – good old-fashioned sunburn.
That means UPF 50+ sun protection. And all of a sudden, a rash guard isn’t so strange after all.