The Difference Between Latex & Lycra Swim Caps

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Swim caps evolved from caps made from wool to rubberized cotton caps held in place with chin straps. The head-hugging materials used for swim caps today meet differing demands. Some caps work better for pool settings and casual workouts, and others helps you swim faster. Lycra and latex caps come in a variety of colors and patterns.


Swim caps make swimming safer and more pleasant for casual and fitness swimmers. Elite athletes depend on snug caps to give them a competitive edge during races. Some swim caps reduce your risk from allergic reactions to pool chemicals, and keep damaging chlorine off your hair. All types keep hair from getting into your eyes and face. Wearing a swim cap in open water keeps you safer because you see better. Boaters also see you better when you wear a brightly colored cap.

Latex Caps

Latex or rubber caps stretch to fit your head. The latex material is water resistant and keeps your head and hair dry. Be sure to tuck in all your hair to prevent water from seeping in underneath a partially dislodged cap. Keep your nails trimmed to avoid tearing or ripping your cap, particularly if the two sides of the cap adhere to one another after you store it without first drying the cap completely.

Lycra Caps

Lycra caps are fabric caps fashioned from the same material used in swimsuits. They fit smoothly over your hair. Unlike latex caps sometimes do, they do not snag or pull at your hair. Lycra caps do not keep water out, so you might feel some extra drag when you swim. The porosity of the material keeps you cool in hot weather, and they go on and come off easily. Lycra caps work well for younger swimmers who are sensitive to hair tugs and pulls.


Lycra caps cost more than latex caps, but they also tend to last longer. Rinse both types of caps with cool water in a sink or shower after you swim, and allow them to dry before tucking them away in your swim bag. Latex causes severe reactions in some people; symptoms include rashes and shortness of breath. You can opt for waterproof silicone caps if you have any concerns about the material. Hybrid caps feature latex on the outside with a Lycra or nylon lining, giving you the best of the two options, along with a higher price tag.