swimming cap buying guide for swim caps

Types of Swim Caps

It is important to identify several factors when choosing what type of swim cap is right for you. The first step is to identify how you are going to use your swim cap. Recreational users will want a different type of swim cap. Competitive users and frequent swimmers will want a different type of cap than infrequent swimmers. Additionally, some users want swim caps for fashion or special occasion usage. 


Functional Considerations When Choosing a Swim Cap

Recreational Use

Recreational swim cap use includes any non-competitive or infrequent, leisurely swimming. Silicone or rubber swim caps are typically the go-to choice for recreational users. Silicone offers durability and allows the user to wear the cap for a long period of time before it needs to be replaced. Rubber swim caps usually feature a fashionable or retro look, preferable for leisurely use. A swim cap made of Lycra is also a popular choice for recreational swim cap use due to its ease of use, durability and budget-friendly price tag. However, Lycra caps are made of material similar to a swimsuit and will not keep your hair dry. Our retro, rubber, and silicone cap collections offer many stylish choices perfect for swimming lesson, water aerobics, or other recreational swimming activities

Competitive Use

Swim caps for competitive users or serious lap swimmers usually look for a cap that reduces drag. Latex and molded silicone caps are most often purchased by users who wish to achieve the ultimate minimalist, or sleek look in the water. Popular athletic brands, like Speedo and Nike, have manufactured caps specifically with the competitive user in mind. Check out our Sport and Fitness Swim Cap section for a selection of styles that will give you a competitive edge.

Showering or Bathing

Some of our customers find a need to keep their head covered during a shower or bath. We offer several styles in various colors and materials that will keep the hair mostly dry during a quick shower or a bath. Some of our bathing and shower caps are versatile enough to be worn in and around the pool or at the beach, however we do not recommend them for heavy duty submersion. See individual product details in our Bathing Cap section for more information about specific caps that fit your showering or bathing needs.


Swim Cap Materials:

Lycra Swim Caps

Lycra is a smooth fabric that stays on the head due to its stretchy quality. They are a good option for those with sensitive scalps who desire to keep their hair out of their face while swimming. Those who don't like the feeling of their hair being pulled while putting the cap on or taking it off will favor a lycra swim cap. Lycra is a porous fabric, so water will permeate the material. Your hair will not stay dry as you swim. Lycra caps are good for keeping hair out of your face, protecting your hair from UV rays and eliminating the swishing of chlorine through the hair. 

Latex Swim Caps

Latex is a popular, economic choice for a swim cap material. Like lycra, latex will stretch so it will conform to your head shape. These caps provide a snug fit, which reduces water resistence during swimming. Some individuals are allergic to latex so they may not work for everyone and may not be best for team sports where everyone must wear the same cap. Latex is a thin material so it is more likely to rip than a silicone swim cap. They have a tendency to wrinkle on top, making them slightly less ergodynamic than a silicone cap.

Rubber Swim Caps

Rubber swim caps are similar in composition to latex swim caps. The material is thicker which means that they won't stretch as much as a latex cap. One benefit of rubber is that it provides insulation, making them an excellent choice for swimming in cold conditions. Some popular caps made of rubber include our waffle weave swim caps and our ever popular and fashionable petal swim caps. Because the material is thick, rubber swim caps are long lasting and durable. Many of our vintage fashion swim caps are made of rubber.

Silicone Swim Caps

Silicone swim caps are thicker and more durable than latex swim caps. They are also easier to put on because the material slides on the head and has a slick texture. Silicone caps are more expensive than latex swim caps, but they will last longer. Silicone swim caps are the most popular choice for competition and olympic swimmers. 

Common Questions About Swim Caps:


Will a swim cap keep my hair dry?

No one swim cap is completely waterproof. However, we offer an array of styles in multiple materials that are water resistant. Swim caps made of Latex or Silicone are most likely to keep your hair as dry as possible. Rubber swim caps usually include a band around the interior of the cap in order to seal the cap to your head and prevent as much water as possible from coming in. If you are look for a swim cap that will keep your hair dry or if you find that a particular cap is loose-fitting or allows too much water to get to your hair, then try the Hair Guard a silicone head band that provides a water tight seal and extends the cap below the hairline. 


Will a swim cap pull my hair?

Many swim cap users find that some caps pull their hair when placing or removing the cap from the head. We recommend closely following our instructions for putting on your swim cap in order to avoid inadvertently pulling your hair. Silicone caps tend to be the best option for long-haired swim cap users because the material slides over the hair instead of gripping it. If you find that a rubber or retro type swim cap pulls your hair, try wearing a Silicone cap underneath to protect the hair from being pulled.   

How do I put on a swim cap?

Please see our complete guide for putting on a swim cap.

How do I care for my swim cap?

Please see our guide on putting on and caring for your swim cap.


Additional Resources

Shop Swim Caps

How to Put On & Care For a Swim Cap

Swim Caps for Long Hair


© 2010-2016, Headcovers Unlimited, Inc., All Rights Reserved.

We encourage and welcome direct links to this page, but please do not redistribute, copy, alter or create derivative works from our content without express written permission.



Rate This Article
Great resource! Review by Types of Swim Caps
100 100

Thanks for the helpful tips on selecting a swim cap. This article was very useful.(Posted on 12/31/2014)

Please rate: