What’s the point of wearing arm covers (and what are they really called?)

What’s the point of wearing arm covers (and what are they really called?)

What are arm covers? Nope, they’re not for protecting your couch! Arm covers are sleeves you slip on your arms to defend your skin against sun damage (and they do have one thing in common with couch covers – both protect against wear and tear!).

You’ve probably seen people using arm covers before. They’re incredibly popular with sportspeople, especially cyclists, golfers and cricketers who spend a lot of time in the sun. For instance, LGPA professional golfer Brittany Lincicome – whose massive drive length earned her the nickname “Bam Bam” – can be seen wearing SParms arm sleeves during her events.

These arm covers aren’t only seen on professional athletes. Sunsmart Aussies have recognised the potential damage from the sun’s harmful UV rays and are adopting arm sleeves for their whole family for everyday use.

Let’s look at what arm covers are, and how they work.

How do you use arm covers?

Arm covers (also called arm sleeves or sun sleeves) look like tight shirtsleeves that are pulled up to the top of your arm and extend down to your wrist. Some are longer and include a thumbhole so your palm and the back of your hand are protected too.

Since the fabric is elastic, arm sleeves fit snugly across a huge range of arm sizes and lengths. You can choose your size by measuring your upper arm circumference and checking a size chart like the one below and choosing your style of arm cover.


Arm sleeves are also incredibly durable and hard-wearing, requiring only a wash occasionally to stay clean.

What fabric is most effective for protecting your arms?

You can get arm sleeves in a variety of materials, but choose wisely as some are more effective at warding off the sun than others. You’ll find cotton, nylon and spandex sleeves on the market, but we prefer microfibre for its softness and stretch.

Ultimately, you’ll want to look for the garment’s UPF rating and choose one with 50+ protection. UPF is the Ultraviolet Protection Factor and measures the amount of UV radiation that can penetrate the fabric. UPF50+ sun protective clothing is the highest rating you can get and only allows 1/50th of the sun’s UVA and UVB rays to pass through.

Our arm covers are made from patented Italian fabric with a unique cooling technology that wicks away moisture and can cool your skin by up to 5 degrees Celsius.

Why use arm covers instead of sunscreen?

We still encourage the use of sunscreen, which is why we’ve released a range of non-toxic sunscreens for kids, adults and sensitive skin types. But, arm covers have a few features that make them a better choice where possible.

For instance:

  • Arm covers are convenient to slip on and don’t require messy sunscreen that needs to be reapplied regularly.
  • They are helpful for people with sensitive skin, especially those with reactions to sunscreen.
  • Arm covers can be paired with other sun-protective clothing like gaiters (neck and face covers), gloves and leg sleeves for a broader level of safety from the sun.

Arm covers, and other sun-protective clothing like shoulder wraps and base layer shirts, form part of your defensive armour against the effects of sun damage that devastates thousands of Aussie families every year: skin cancer. The deadliest type of skin cancer is melanoma, which sadly is responsible for approximately 75% of skin cancer deaths.

Who are arm covers for?

Honestly, everyone can use arm covers. But to give you an idea, you can use arm covers if you:

  • Play sports outdoors, including golf, rowing, fishing, football or soccer and so on.
  • Are an outdoor exercise enthusiast who walks, jogs, runs or cycles.
  • Work primarily outdoors, such as tilers, landscapers or builders.
  • Do gardening, spend time at the beach or parks, or any other outdoor activity.

If you’re outside, it’s a good idea to take care of your skin even on cloudy days. Very little protects you from UV radiation except UV protective clothing like arm sleeves. You’ll not only be helping protect yourself from future disease, but you’ll also spare yourself a summer full of painful sunburn and be able to spend more time doing what you love outdoors.

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