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How to Choose a Swim Cap


Swim caps make you more hydrodynamic in the water and are a great way to keep long hair out of your face while you swim. Choosing a swim cap is fairly straightforward and usually is influenced by what type of swimming you do, but there are a few considerations you should keep in mind when making a purchase.

Lap Swimming vs. Water Exercise

Lap swimming means head-down, face-in-the-water swimming, while water exercise can be anything from aqua jogging, to water therapy, to aqua aerobics. Water exercisers usually use caps to keep their hair out of their face and dry. Athletes doing water aerobics, aqua jogging, or other forms of gentle water exercise may want to wear a LYCRA™ swim cap. These are soft mesh material and will help keep hair out of their eyes without the tight, heat-retaining fit of traditional swim caps. Lap swimmers more commonly use caps to help them move through the water more efficiently and will prefer the hydrodynamic qualities of latex or silicone swim caps.

Practice vs. Racing vs. Open Water

Swim practice caps are made of latex or silicone. They're simple, inexpensive and quite similar from brand-to-brand, and are also commonly used during meets and competition. Modern racing caps are made of molded silicone, which provides a smoother surface and reduces drag during races. They are a bit more expensive than traditional swim caps.

Open water racers or swimmers may want to opt for a silicone or even a neoprene cap which provide a bit more insulation and floatation than latex caps (although latex caps are equally acceptable and widely used on open water swims). Open water swimmers should also consider buying a cap in a bright color to make it easier for officials and rescuers to spot them in the water.

Lots of Hair vs. No Hair

If you have medium to long hair, then a silicone cap will suit you best. Silicone caps outlast their latex counterpart, are more tear resistant, and don't tug at your hair. Typically softer to the touch, a silicone cap is gentler on the hair and easier to get on and off after a workout. Those with longer hair will need a snug fit to keep their cap from falling off. Silicone caps can provide a contoured fit for your personal head size while keeping everything in place.

If you have little or no hair, a latex cap will provide a better fit. Made of latex rubber, the latex cap tends to stretch more easily so they can be worn by virtually anyone. Regular-sized caps fit most swimmers with average head sizes. If an average-sized swim cap feels loose, try a junior or kids cap for a snugger fit. The cap should be tight enough to remain on your head throughout a race or workout, but not so tight that it leaves a line or begins to hurt your head. If you're worried your cap may not stay on, try a swim cap with a chin strap that comfortably holds your cap into place while you're swimming.

Pick What You Like Best

When it comes down to it, there are no strict rules about swimming headwear. Pick a cap that meets your needs, whether it comes down to comfort, insulation, or just the color. And since swim caps are quite inexpensive, it's a good idea to buy a few. That way you're sure to have one on hand in case one rips.

Also consider buying a fun cap! Many companies manufacture holiday-themed caps, caps with funny sayings, or caps with graphics. You can also purchase customized caps that feature names, nicknames, and logos for yourself or a team. A unique swim cap can make hopping in the water a lot more enjoyable, whether for practice or competition.

Shop all Swim Caps

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Jen
4 years ago.
I just bought a speedo long hair silicone cap and after wearing it for the first time, my hair was still wet. What was I doing wrong?
swimoutlet.com
4 years ago.
Hi Jen, You are not doing anything wrong at all. Swimming caps are meant to keep hair out of your face and by keeping it in place will reduce drag. Your hair is still going to get wet. Unfortunately, there is no swim cap that will keep your hair dry.
JoyceB
4 years ago.
What swim cap works best with very fragile, short hair? I swim laps.Thanks.
swimoutlet.com
4 years ago.
Hi JoyceB, The Speedo Elastomeric Solid Silicone Swim Cap is a great option!
Maria
4 years ago.
Hey, I have my hair dyed and it seems whenever I go swimming, I leave a pink trail behind me. I was wondering what can help keep my hair completely dry so I don't damage my hair or release hair dye.
swimoutlet.com
4 years ago.
Hi Maria,
Caps are not meant to keep your hair completely dry. They are meant to keep your hair out of your face and reduce drag. Unfortunately, there is no cap we offer that will fulfill your needs. We apologize for the inconvenience!
Heidi
4 years ago.
Hi, looking for swim caps for my kids- ages 9 & 12 with medium amount hair. Thinking silicone... But is there a size that would work best for kids? Does the cap have extra space for hair? My 1 daughter does have kind of a lot. Thanks!
swimoutlet.com
4 years ago.
Hi Heidi, we offer silicone caps specifically for long hair in adult size. There is extra space which allows long hair to be tucked inside the cap. The circumference of an adult sized cap is 20.1 inches. For example, Sporti Long Hair Silicone Swim Cap. If this is too large, then we offer Junior sized silicone caps (circumference 18.5 in) but these do not offer the extra space for longer hair. For example, Sporti Cartoon Clownfish Silicone Swim Cap Jr. It would be best to measure their head and compare to the adult and junior sizing for the best fit.
debbie
4 years ago.
my daughter has really long thick hair (down to her waist ) she plays water polo (freshman year ) the cap she has keeps slipping off - please can you help me by figuring out which would be perfect for her.
swimoutlet.com
4 years ago.
Hi Debbie, we offer the TYR Long Hair Wrinkle Free Silicone Swim Cap which is made specifically for longer hair!
Rachel
4 years ago.
I have had problems with my swim caps just ripping my fine, medium length hair out. I have actually lost quite a bit of hair. I want to keep swimming because it's great exercise. Is there a cap that won't pull out my hair but also protects from the chlorine to prevent further hair loss?
swimoutlet.com
4 years ago.
Hi Rachel, the Speedo Speed It Up Silicone Swim Cap (Product Code 8133917) is a good option because it has the elastomeric fit meaning it provides super soft silicone and micro grid texture to keep your hair from snagging. It works well with people who have medium to long hair. I hope this helps!
Diane
4 years ago.
Is there a swim cap that works best for keeping water out of the ears? Ear plugs are a bit uncomfortable and a good cap would be the best solution for me.
swimoutlet.com
4 years ago.
Hi Diane, we don't offer any swim caps that guarantee to keep water out of ears. We do offer the Sporti Silicone Ear Swim Cap which is meant to be used with earplugs for better comfort. If you are open to trying new ear plugs, you can check out the TYR Silicone Molded Ear Plugs and wear them with the silicone ear swim cap.
Lisa
4 years ago.
Is there a cap that can stay on during springboard diving?
swimoutlet.com
4 years ago.
Hi Lisa, The Speedo Speed It Up Silicone Swim Cap might work out. It has an interior textured surface which is meant to keep cap in place.
simona Sklash
4 years ago.
I'm 61 years young with short cut hair . I'm visiting my hair stylist twice a week for a blow dry. I live alongside the ocean but I'm avoiding going into the water to avoid wetting my hair. I'm thinking to try swim cap so that I can enjoy the ocean. What type of cap should I order?
swimoutlet.com
4 years ago.
Hi Simona, a silicone cap is a great choice. For example, the Sporti Silicone Swim Cap. By wearing a cap, it helps keep hair out of face but will not keep your hair 100% dry. I hope this helps!
yash
4 years ago.
hello,
I need a best racing cap,to use it in competition, so which cap should i purchase.
swimoutlet.com
4 years ago.
Hi Yash,
The Arena 3D Ultra Swim Cap is a great option for competition use.
Lynnette
4 years ago.
We are looking for a swim cap for long hair that keeps hair as dry as possible, that goes behind ears, rather than cover them. Do any exist? We can't find any that aren't designed to seal behind the ears.
swimoutlet.com
4 years ago.
Hi Lynnette, we are not aware of any existing. We do offer long hair silicone caps, but they will cover about mid ear. We apologize for the inconvenience!
Skylar
4 years ago.
Is there an good option for hair that is dyed? The chlorine turns my hair greenish.
swimoutlet.com
4 years ago.
Hi Skylar, If you are doing lap swimming then any cap you select will still get your hair wet as they are are made to help swimmers glide through water more easily. A silicone cap is a good option because it's more durable than latex, but again the chlorine will still reach your hair.
Holly Griffith
4 years ago.
Coat your hair with coconut oil. It will protect your hair. Your hair will still get wet, but the oil will protect it from having the chlorine absorbed.
Meg
3 years ago.
You can just saturate your hair with water before putting on your cap - it will do the same thing. If you want extra protection slather some hair conditioner on after wetting and put on a cap. Rinse when finished swimming. Once a week use a clarifying swimmers shampoo to remove any residue that lingers if you still notice green tinge hair. But by using water and a ref conditioner your hair will not be able to absorb any more moisture from the pool.
Sandy
4 years ago.
I do pool exercise and go under water occasionally. I will be getting a fresh perm soon. What cap should I get to protect my hair? Thank you.
swimoutlet.com
4 years ago.
Hi Sandy, the Zoggs Stretch Fit Swim Cap is a great choice(this isn't chlorine resistant so over time the color will fade).
Jim
4 years ago.
Hi, I like to swim in the ocean but have been having trouble getting water in my left ear. I have tried several brands of ear plugs, but with limited results.
I thought maybe a swim cap of some type could help if used along with the ear plugs. What would you recommend?
Thanks!
Jim
swimoutlet.com
4 years ago.
Hi Jim, We recommend the Sporti Silicone Ear Swim Cap. If you are using ear plugs and this cap the water should stay out. I hope this helps!
kristina
4 years ago.
Hi,

Do the Finis animal head caps run pretty small or close to a standard swim cap size? I teach kids how to swim, and thought it would be fun to have one :)
swimoutlet.com
4 years ago.
Hi Kristina, These run extremely small as they are meant to fit children. I hope this helps!
Christy
4 years ago.
What cap will keep my hair dry or as much as possible?
swimoutlet.com
4 years ago.
Hi Christy,
Check out the Speedo Elastomeric Solid Silicone Swim Cap. This is a great option!
Melissa
4 years ago.
I have long and very thick hair. Which cap would be best for me. Iam going to be using it for lap swimming and leisurely swimming
swimoutlet.com
4 years ago.
Hi Melissa,
The Sporti Long Hair Silicone Swim Cap and TYR Long Hair Wrinkle Free Silicone Swim Cap are both great options. They are both made from silicone which will be durable and has the extra space specifically for long hair. I hope this helps!
Mrs Harrison
4 years ago.
I have had surgery to the top of my head a few years ago. I'm left with a very sensitive head that can bare little pressure or my hair being tugged. Can anyone recommend a suitable swimming hat for me?
swimoutlet.com
4 years ago.
Hi Mrs Harrison,
Please check out the Arena Unix Nylon Swim Cap (Product Code 25369). This is a great option. Also, the Sporti Nylon Spandex Swim Cap II (Product Code 8114190). The second option runs small. If you have a smaller head then it should fit otherwise the first option would be a better fit. I hope this helps!
Aaliyah
4 years ago.
I want one that does not get my hair wet at all or just a TINY bit wet
my hair is straight shoulder length
swimoutlet.com
4 years ago.
Hi Aaliyah,
Swim caps are not meant to completely keep your hair dry, but are meant to keep hair out of your face. The best material to select in your case is silicone. For example, the Speedo Silicone Swim Cap. There are many prints and colors to choose from and you can view our selection here:

https://www.swimoutlet.com/silicone-swim-caps-c9634/

I hope this is helpful!
Fred
4 years ago.
Can you recommend a cap(s) for a man who swims laps for exercise and wants protection from sun exposure to the head
swimoutlet.com
4 years ago.
Hi Fred,
Unfortunately, we are not offering any swim caps with sun protection only a cap used for running. I apologize for the inconvenience!
evelyn
4 years ago.
Thank you for your great articles! I plan to start swimming and want to keep my long hair as dry as possible and least exposed to chlorine. I have read all the comments. My question is do swim caps in sizes like Small, medium, large or 1 size fits all? if they come in sizes what are the measurements for each of the sizes please. Please excuse me if the question seems silly but want to buy online and not sure how to go about with the sizing. Thank you
swimoutlet.com
4 years ago.
Hi Evelyn,
Yes, swim caps do come in these select sizes. For example, the Speedo Stretch Fit Swim Cap (Product Code 3621) is available in size S/M which fits a head circumference of 20" and Large/X-Large which fits a head circumference of 21". Please keep in mind some brands may size differently. Please refer to the sizing chart on the product page for the cap you are looking at. If no sizing information is displayed, you can email us at shop@swimoutlet.com and we can request the measurements. I hope this helps!
Youlanda
4 years ago.
I am participating in a mud challenge and I would like a swim cap. I am black and I wear my hair natural and it is thick and coarse and comes to about the nape of my neck. What would you recommend.
swimoutlet.com
4 years ago.
Hi Youlanda,
I'd recommend the Arena Unix Nylon Swim Cap or the Arena Smart Swim Cap. These two are really great options!
Stefan
5 years ago.
Hello, I have extremely curly hair, it is not very long, (i am a man) but I don't want it completely messed up everytime I go swimming, as washing it too much dries it out. Which cap can I get that blocks out the most water, but is still easy on my hair and does not aggrevate it too much? (I know none of them will keep my hair 100% dry, but I try to keep my head above water as much as possible). I would appreciate your advice :).
swimoutlet.com
5 years ago.
Hi Stefan,
The best option we carry will be the long hair silicone swim cap. Although, you don't necessarily have long hair it will still be the best fit since your curly hair will benefit from the extra room in the back of the cap. I suggest the Speedo Long Hair Silicone Swim Cap (Product Code 3620). If you have further questions, feel free to reach us anytime!
Bee Walker
5 years ago.
Hello I'm incorporating swimming into my exercise regimen but chlorine drys my hair out terribly. I'd like the water to touch my hair in the most minimal way. I have a larger head and long locked hair. Which cap would be the best fit for me? Thanks!
swimoutlet.com
5 years ago.
Hi Bee,
Your best options are the Sporti Long Hair Silicone Swim Cap, TYR Long Hair Wrinkle Free Silicone Swim Cap, and Arena Smart Swim Cap (provides a little more stretch compared to the first two mentioned). If you have further questions, feel free to reach us anytime!
Andrea
5 years ago.
We need recommendations for two swim caps for snorkeling in Mexico, at the surface or at most 5 feet below:
1. My husband--bald, XL head, has had skin cancer on head, needs as much sun protection as possible, ideally neck and ears too.
2. Me - Also large head for a woman- "fits most" women's sun hats are too small. And I have thick hair 10" below my shoulders. I don't need it to stay dry-just out of my face.
Any suggestions much appreciated.
swimoutlet.com
5 years ago.
Hi Andrea,
For your husband, I recommend the Sporti Silicone Ear Swim Cap. For yourself, I recommend the Sporti Long Hair Silicone Swim Cap or the TYR Long Hair Wrinkle Free Silicone Swim Cap. These are the best options we offer for what you are looking for. If you have further questions, feel free to reach us anytime!
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