The Difference Between Scrubs and Tunics

The Difference Between Scrubs and Tunics

Posted by Noel Asmar on

As the medical and spa industries evolve, so do their uniforms to meet the distinct needs of each profession. This post explores the differences and similarities between two popular medical and wellness industry uniform selections: scrubs and tunics, and looks ahead to their future developments and intersection.

What Defines a Scrub?

Scrubs are the quintessential medical uniform, instantly recognizable to both professionals and patients. Their design serves several essential functions, providing identification and practicality. The uniform's simple, standardized design helps establish an immediate visual identification of medical personnel, which is crucial in environments where time and clarity are of the essence. This instant recognition fosters trust and reassurance among patients, who can easily identify the professionals responsible for their care.

Emily is size 2. She is wearing XS

Additionally, scrubs are designed to be highly practical. Made from durable, easy-to-clean materials, they can withstand frequent washing, which is necessary for maintaining hygiene standards in medical settings. The lightweight, breathable fabrics ensure comfort during long shifts, while their athletic fit allows for a full range of motion, essential for the varied physical tasks healthcare workers perform. Pockets are also typically incorporated, affording quick access to essential items and tools.

At NAU, our scrubs are designed with the average 17,000 steps per shift often walked by medical professionals (not to mention the leaning, lifting, bending, and functional movement encompassed within). Because of the dynamic nature of the job, our scrubs are crafted from athletic fabrics that offer moisture-wicking, breathability, and stretch for comfort and ease of movement. We also feature a range of fits and sizes to suit diverse body types.

Understanding the Spa Tunic

Spa tunics are designed to enhance the appearance and comfort of spa and wellness professionals, reflecting the premium nature of these services, while accommodating the often physically demanding services and treatments. Unlike the straightforward design of medical scrubs, spa tunics focus on style and brand representation.

The spa industry values uniforms that are not only functional but also stylish and brand-appropriate. Our signature spa tunics are engineered with specific fabrics that endure the unique conditions of spa environments, like stains from spa treatment products, and the frequent washing required of these uniforms. These tunics often feature:

  • Asymmetric zipper detailing
  • Aesthetic pleating
  • Chic necklines
  • Strategic or alternative fabric choices
  • Spa and wellness color palettes

Spa tunics are tailored to be elegant and refined, creating a hospitable appearance that aligns with high-end spa brands. And as 20-year veterans in the spa and wellness space and pioneers of the Spa Tunics, we’ve been honored to outfit many five-star brands, businesses, hotels, and resorts at NAU. 

How Scrubs Differ From Tunics

Scrubs prioritize functionality over branding, focusing more on practical aspects such as durability, comfort, and utility. They are designed to meet the rigorous demands of healthcare environments, where hygiene, ease of movement, and accessibility to tools are paramount. 

Key characteristics of scrubs include:

  1. Durable Materials: Scrubs are made from robust fabrics that can endure frequent washing and sterilization, ensuring hygiene and longevity.
  2. Comfort and Flexibility: The athletic fit and breathable materials allow healthcare professionals to move freely and stay comfortable during long shifts.
  3. Practical Design: Multiple pockets are strategically placed for easy access to essential medical tools and personal items.
  4. Color-Coding: Colors are often used to signify different roles within a healthcare setting, such as distinguishing nurses from doctors or other staff members. This color-coding helps in quickly identifying the appropriate personnel in a busy medical environment.

Typically, scrubs are sourced individually by healthcare workers, offering them the flexibility to choose uniforms that fit their needs and preferences within the color guidelines set by their employers. This independence is particularly beneficial for mobile medical professionals, such as traveling nurses, who need a versatile and easily recognizable uniform that they can take from one workplace to another.

In contrast, tunics used in the spa and wellness industries prioritize both functionality and branding. These uniforms are crafted to enhance the brand image and client experience, reflecting the premium nature of spa services. 


Key features of tunics include:


  1. Aesthetic Appeal: Tunics often incorporate elegant design elements such as asymmetric zippers, aesthetic pleating, chic necklines, and specialized color palettes that align with the spa's brand identity.
  2. Brand Representation: Tunics are an extension of the spa's brand, designed to create a cohesive and professional appearance that enhances the overall client experience.
  3. Specific Functionality: While maintaining style, tunics are also designed to meet the specific needs of spa professionals, using fabrics that are durable and suited to the spa environment and its treatments.
  4. Employer-Sourced: Unlike scrubs, tunics are typically sourced by the spa owners for their employees, ensuring a uniform look that aligns with the brand's aesthetic and quality standards.


The use of colors in tunics is more about creating a harmonious and inviting atmosphere rather than signaling different roles. This focus on aesthetics helps in promoting a serene and luxurious environment, which is crucial in the spa and wellness industry.

While both scrubs and tunics serve as essential uniforms in their respective fields, their primary differences lie in their focus and functionality. Scrubs are designed with a focus on practicality and hygiene, making them ideal for the dynamic and demanding environment of healthcare. In contrast, tunics balance functionality with brand representation, aiming to enhance the client experience and uphold the spa's image. The sourcing of these uniforms also reflects their different priorities: scrubs are often individually chosen by healthcare workers, while tunics are provided by employers to ensure a consistent and branded appearance.

The Future of Medical and Spa Uniforms

As the boundaries between the medical field and the spa and aesthetic industries blur, we expect a shift in professional attire, too. 

In medical settings, the focus on patient experience has led to a more holistic approach to care. Patients today expect a welcoming and reassuring environment, which extends to the appearance of the healthcare professionals they interact with. As a result, there is a growing trend towards more stylish and aesthetically pleasing uniforms that contribute to a positive patient experience. Tunics, known for their clean lines and professional look, could become more common in medical environments.

On the other hand, the aesthetics and spa industry is expected to embrace a more clinical look as it incorporates medical treatments into its offerings. Services like Botox, injectables, and IV therapies require a level of professionalism and trust similar to traditional medical procedures. To align with these advanced services, spa professionals are adopting more medical-feeling attire. Scrubs, traditionally associated with healthcare, are being integrated into spa uniforms to signify the medical nature of certain treatments. This adoption of medical attire helps in reinforcing the seriousness and professionalism of the procedures being offered, bridging the gap between spa relaxation and medical precision.

The integration of both scrub and tunic styles is particularly evident in med spas, dental practices, dermatology clinics, and other hybrid environments where both healthcare and aesthetic services are provided. These settings demand uniforms that offer the comfort and functionality needed for medical procedures while maintaining a stylish appearance that aligns with the high standards of the spa industry.

NAU is Poised for the Future of Uniforms

NAU, as a leading provider of medical and spa uniforms, is at the forefront of this evolution. We innovate and elevate uniform standards to meet the current and future needs of healthcare and wellness industries. By blending practicality and elegance, our designs enable professionals to perform their duties with confidence and style, driving the future of professional attire in hybrid medical and aesthetic environments.

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