If you're in the market for an excellent rash guard, this is the right choice for you! Heading on a tropical vacation and planning to snorkel? This shirt will keep you from turning into a crispy-fried chicken nugget while you do so. The O'Neill Women's Basic Skins L/S Crew is hands-down our favorite sun shirt to jump into the water with. If that's what you're looking for, then read on to see why this shirt is our recommendation for you!
O'Neill Basic Skins L/S Crew - Women's Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Stays put during in-water activities, excellent sun protection and coverage, off-center seams for comfortable wear
Cons: Not versatile - only good for water activities, skin tight fit may be a bit unforgiving
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Our Analysis and Test Results
This shirt is a rash guard. If you're not familiar with what that means, it means it's tight fitting, the seams are sewn in places designed to rub less, and it will add an extra little bit of warmth to your water activities. It also means it's meant to withstand all the laps you want to swim, waves you want to surf, or sea turtles you want to snorkel with. While it may not have all the bells and whistles of some of the other sun shirts we reviewed, it's a great rash guard.
Comfort & Fit
The O'Neill is made of soft, stretchy fabric that will contour to every line of your upper body. To do its job though, it has to be tight, so don't be duped into buying a bigger size for a looser fit! Though some may not enjoy just how form-fitted this shirt is, it sure doesn't constrict your range of motion as you're cutting through the water or waves.
The seams are well-placed to avoid the parts of your body that may be in constant motion, especially when paddling down that chilly river or through those large waves. The sleeves are long enough and snug enough to provide total arm protection against the sun even while you surf the whole tide! We give it a 7 out of 10.
The O'Neill Basic Skin has a wonderfully high UPF rating of 50+, meaning you don't have to remember to reapply that reef-safe sunscreen every 90 minutes while snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef!
Though this shirt has no hood for neck protection or thumb holes to cover the backs of your hands, the crew neck is snug, and the sleeves come to a comfortable length to keep you freely moving. It's designed smartly to never giving you that scary drowning sensation of having a really tight neck or getting a wet hood trapped on top of your mouth. We were glad to have no extra frills on this shirt and give it a 7 out of 10 for sun protection.
This category is less of a concern with a rash guard, as it's really not meant to be worn out of the water.
This tight layer acts as an additional barrier for your skin, giving you just a tad bit of extra warmth so you can play in the water just a tad longer. Once removed and wrung out, it dries quickly in the sun. We give it a 6 out of 10 for breathability.
If you're already familiar with the O'Neill method of making water-wear, you've probably come across their polyester/spandex four-way stretch fabric before.
This material stands up to a lot of wear and tear, even when set on the scratchy surface next to a pool or laid in the sand after exiting the waves. The seams are also stitched flat, which not only adds to their comfort but increases their durability. This shirt received an 8 out of 10 for durability.
This shirt is sleek and form-fitting. If that's a style you like, then you're bound to appreciate this rash guard!
Unfortunately, as the O'Neill is so specialized to water function, it's not the most versatile shirt. Our reviewers wouldn't recommend wearing it to the office or for a nice dinner after your beach day, but it's worth rocking in the water! Overall, we give it a 4 out of 10.
The O'Neill has no 'bells and whistles' like some other types of sun shirts, but it's well-formed for a rash guard. The flat-stitched seams are a great asset to your active lifestyle!
Without a doubt, this shirt's best application is as a rash guard for in-water activities. If you're looking for a paddle shirt that's going to get wet (or soaked!), a top for surfing, or a way to avoid becoming a snorkeling lobster, the O'Neill is a great choice. If you'd rather sit on the beach and enjoy the view while remaining dry, you might try a less intense sun shirt like the prAna Charline Sun Top or Mountain Hardwear Butterlicious Hoodie.
You can find this shirt on Amazon or from the O'Neill website for $20-$31. Considering how long it will last you and how much money you'll save from all the sunscreen you won't be applying, this shirt is a great value for what you get. Especially if in-water sports are your jam, or even if you're spending a week on a tropical beach in the middle of a dark and snowy winter, you'd be hard-pressed to find a reason not to pick up this sun shirt. Your skin will thank you.
At the end of the day, the O'Neill Women's Basic Skins L/S Crew is a fantastic rash guard. If reading the litany of activities in this review sounds like your life, then this might be the shirt for you!
— Maggie Brandenburg