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Let’s get things straight

When buying gloves, the market can be a very confusing place. So many colours, so many sizes, so many technical details. You can lose sight of the reason why you need the gloves in the first place.

For the sake of simplicity, this article is only discussing latex gloves. Including non-latex gloves would bring in a lot of other variables in the decision making process.

The key to making a decision on what gloves are best for you is to establish clearly what your purpose of use is. The next step is to look at the 4 main components of the glove; Flexibility, Protection, Comfort, Aesthetics.

Flexibility and Protection

The first 2 components to be concerned about are trade-offs. Generally, the more flexible a glove is, the less protection it provides. This is largely dependent on the thickness of the glove.

Thicker gloves provide more of a barrier between the user and the surfaces that the user will be coming into contact with (e.g. patient, oils, gels). They also translate to a smaller chance of ripping the glove or having small pinholes.

However, thicker gloves also mean that you will have a more limited range of motion because the increased amount of latex means increased rigidity. Additionally, you will be less touch sensitive to the area you are in contact with.

A decision has to be made regarding how much of movement the glove should allow and what level of protection the user needs.


These next 2 components are very subjective. Comfort is simply how the user feels when donning and using the glove. It is important to ensure that you feel comfortable when using the glove because this often translates to being able to perform the job with more confidence and less concern about the glove or other equipment you are utilising.

Make sure that the glove is not too tight or too lose (sizing). Your fingers should not feel like they are being suffocated and at the same there should not be too much excess material between your finger tips and the tips of the glove.

There is a common misconception that powdered gloves are more comfortable and easier to wear than non-powdered gloves. This is not true. Modern gloves are designed to have a smooth inside that is a perfectly good alternative to the older powdered technology. Non-powdered gloves are also less of a health risk because it eliminates the possibility of breathing the small powder particles as you remove the glove.


Aesthetics just refers to the color and appearance of the glove. The glove can be split into 3 sections: 1) Cuff, 2) Palm, 3) Tips.

The cuff of a glove can vary in length. The most common length is 240mm. Modern gloves are rolled up at the bottom. This is referred to as a beaded cuff. It just makes it easier to don and remove the glove.

The palm of a glove can be textured or smooth. Textured palms provide more grip for the user. This does not mean it is a necessity as the added grip is only noticeable for jobs with small tools.

The tips can also be textured or smooth. Because we generally pick things up with our fingers, the tips of gloves are often textured. Either the palm and tips are textured (fully textured) or just the tips are textured.

Finally it is colour. The colour of your glove is completely your choice. The most common colour for latex gloves is natural latex colour. This is makes for a very pale light coloured glove. The advantage is that if the user’s hands get pricked or scratched, you will be able to see the blood. This is a form of safety indicator.

Decision time

At the end of the day, you have to make a decision based on your needs and your budget. The more features you want in your glove will mean the higher the cost. Speak to your supplier or local store to learn what best fits your needs.

Just remember, buy a glove that suits your needs, don’t alter your needs to suit a glove you have.