Scuba diving is one of my favorite hobbies. I have been scuba diving for about 10 years and I am an advanced open water SCUBA diver. When I first started scuba diving I did not have a beard. I was able to get a really nice seal between the skirt of my mask and my face because I was clean-shaven. As I have been growing a beard I have noticed that a few things need to change in relation to the preparations I take before diving. Can you scuba dive with a beard? Here’s the short answer:
Yes, you can scuba dive with a beard. As long as you choose a soft skirt face mask that adheres to your face well there is no reason why you can’t dive with a beard. If you find you are still having issues with water leaking into your mask you can choose to use silicone grease – the sort that is used for O-rings – or you could trim down the moustache area of your beard to create a better seal.
As your beard grows you may ask to make changes to your equipment and preparations before scuba diving. In this article we will go through all of the ways you can seal a dive mask when you are sporting a long beard. The first bit of advice is to make sure that you try a load of different types of masks!
If you have only ever used cheap rentable masks you are likely to have experienced the worst amount of leakage your ever face. Luckily, there are plenty of other high-quality masks which are suitable for the bearded gentleman.
Don’t expect all masks to be the same!
When you are choosing a dive mask you should place the mask over your face (as if you are going to wear it) and create a little bit of negative pressure by breathing in through your nose. This will show you how well the mask seals against your face and moustache.
Not all dive masks work well for every type of beard.
You should try on a variety of different dive masks until you find one that seals with minimal leakage. This will likely be a mask with one of two features:
- soft skirt – don’t expect all silicone or plastic skirts to be the same. Choose a dive mask that has a soft skirt which can conform to the shape of your moustache.
- Thin under nose skirt – a mask that works well for bearded people will tend to have a very thin skirt under the nose pocket. This will maximise the amount of pressure which is created just underneath the nostrils to help create a full seal.
Also, you should make sure that your mask skirt does not get to stiff when exposed to cold temperatures. When you are diving the temperature of the water significantly firms up some types of flexible plastic. Make sure that you test the mask when it is at your local water temperature. For some of you it could be as low as 10° C.
Now, that’s take a look at all of the options you have you still have issues despite finding the perfect mask.
How do you seal a dive mask with a beard?
Sealing a dive mask with a beard can be very challenging. As you go deeper the pressure on them at school be higher and there will be less leakage. However, the deeper you go the colder the water will get as well. This means that the silicone mask will become stiffer and be more prone to leaking than if you were testing the mask in the shop.
Your first option for sealing your mask against your beard is to tighten it up.
Tighten the mask
The ideal mask will seal against your face with the lightest of pressure. It is not ideal to use the straps to force the mask against your face as it will be incredibly uncomfortable and leave you with very red indents after your 30 minutes under the ocean.
However, this could be your first and only option if you find that your mask is leaking in the middle of your dive or at a time when you can’t do anything else about it. Pulling the mask tight before the temperature of the skirt decreases will help the soft plastic to conform to your beard and face.
Pulling both straps evenly and ensuring that it sits snugly against your beard will certainly help reduce the amount of leakage that you experience. You may have a harder time blowing out and clearing your mask if your straps are too tight – so find the best combination of strength and ease of clearing.
Use silicone grease
You may have also heard that a number of bearded scuba divers use some form of lubricant on their moustache. Not all lubricants are made the same and some may actually damage your mask if you use it too often.
Do not use Vaseline
Even though a load of different online forums and social media sites say to use Vaseline to improve the seal between the bottom of the mask and your moustache – do not. Vaseline is a petroleum-based product and it can easily damage the soft plastic of your mask by drying it out and causing it to become more brittle over time.
There are a range of different options for using a lubricant and one of the best ones is to use the grease that is typically used by scuba divers on O-rings and other scuba equipment.
The good thing about using a scuba diving specific grease is that normally there is plenty to be found in the dive shop and boat of the dive group you are travelling or diving with. Besides being readily available, it is also hypoallergenic and will not cause any irritation to your skin.
Get a mask with a softer skirt
As I mentioned above, not all masks are created the same. Not only are the aesthetic features of the mask very important for you but the material that they are made of is just as important if you want to dive with a beard.
Specifically, you need to ask and find out what the skirt of the mask is made of as it will determine how flexible that mask skirt is at colder temperatures.
As a general rule of thumb: masks using Siltex or PVC will stiffen up in cooler temperatures which will negatively affect their sealing capabilities at lower depths.
Trim down your mustache
If you have got this far in the article and you have still not found out the best way to seal your mask against your beard and moustache you may have only one option – trim down your moustache.
For most beard growers the moustache is a very defining part of their beard style. I know that I would be very reluctant to change my beard by either trimming the bulk away or shaping up the top line to fit in a mask seal.
I have a full moustache – by this I mean that the top hairs of my moustache cover the entire depth and finish at my lips. It is this type of moustache which is the hardest to seal against as there are many little channels which go the entire width of the bottom seal.
Thinning out your moustache means that it will get less thick but will hopefully not change the aesthetic of your beard too much. Using a clipper on a number two or three may be the perfect length for sealing the mask against your face whilst retaining the look of your moustache. If this doesn’t work you can opt to trim down the top centimetre of your moustache – just underneath your nose.
Trim down the top 1 cm
Trimming down the top 1 cm of your moustache to the skin means that the mask has the opportunity to seal completely against the skin just under your nose.
This is a good option if you dive regularly. For me, I only dive once or twice a year while I am on holiday and therefore I put up with the inconvenience of blowing out my mask more often. However, if you dive multiple times a week you may want to change your moustache style so that there is a gap between the bottom of your nose and the top of your moustache. This is one of the best ways to be able to retain some form of moustache but also enjoy scuba diving.
Ultimately, whichever way you trim or thin out your moustache needs to be balanced out by how easy you want your scuba diving experiences to be.
I can’t think of anything more frustrating than growing a full beard and having to constantly blow out and clear my mask if I chose to scuba dive multiple times per week. It all comes down to what you are willing to put up with and sometimes sacrificing your moustache for an easier scuba dive is worth it.
Shave your cheeks
For some people without a beard is not just the moustache which causes leakage. You can also get a little bit of leakage next to your side burn and high on your cheeks.
Everyone’s growth pattern is different and some people have hair very high up on their cheeks – just under their eyes – others have a significant amount of growth next to their side burn. Both of these places are where the mask needs to seal.
Luckily, these areas are easy to deal with as you can shave the hair completely away. I recommend using a single blade safety razor to completely remove the hair from the tops of your cheeks.
A single blade safety razor
I love my single blade safety razor. I used to use a load of five and multi-blade safety razors with cartridges that you can replace but since I went to my old school double edge safety razor I never looked back.
Having a single cutting line means that you’ll be able to get really defined edges on your beard and for a short beard that is particularly important on the top cheek line and the neckline under the beard.
It’s a little bit of a learning curve associated with it if you’re used to using a cartridge razor blade but learn slowly and carefully and it will be one of the best decisions you have ever made!
Choose a beard style without a mustache
There are plenty of beard styles which are perfect for scuba diving – they all have one thing in common – no moustache.
Beards without a moustache are surprisingly common and they don’t look as bad as you are thinking. If you want to know more about beards without a moustache check out my other article – click here.
I go through a range of different options for beards without a moustache including:
- The Chinstrap
- The Soul Patch
- The Chin Curtain
- Old Dutch Beard
- Mutton Chops
- The Lincoln Beard
- The Long Goatee
- Long Beard without the mustache
In that article you may find the perfect moustache less beard for keeping your scuba diving and smooth sailing as possible.
Clear your mask more often
Lastly, you have the option of just putting up with clearing your mask more often. It’s not the ideal situation but if you are not a regular scuba diver having a little bit of annoyance may be something that you’re willing to put up with.
Like I said above, I only scuba dive when I am on holiday – the waters near me are very cold and full of great white sharks – so I am willing to put up with the inconvenience of clearing my mask more often.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the best masks for scuba diving with a beard.
Best masks for scuba diving with a beard
Atomic subframe mask (click here to see options)
- Unmatched durability and resistance to breakage | Optical quality, distortion-free UltraClear lenses
- Hydrodynamic styling with no exposed external frame | Removable lenses for corrective lens options (optional)
- Wide vision and low volume | Great fit
- Squeeze to adjust buckles
- Clear or Black silicone rubber with co-molded color accents
Atomic frameless mask (https://amzn.to/2Os5uXz)
- Large lenses and close fitting skirt
- Designed to have a comfortable fit
- Squeeze-to-adjust buckles
- Computer designed to maximize field of vision
Hollis M1 (https://amzn.to/3cTfRgC)
- Frameless 100% pure silicon skirt
- Saint-Gobain Diamant – Crystal Clear Lens
- Wide vision and low volume
- Completely dry top snorkel prevents water entry when submerged
- Large exhaust and purge valve at bottom for easy water clearing
Keep on trying masks
Everyone’s beard is different and I recommend that you keep on trying on a range of different masks until you find the perfect one for you. It’s not easy to find a mask if you have a particularly bushy moustache but there is almost certainly the right one out there you just have to look a little bit longer than other people.
Best beard care for salt water
Saltwater and chlorine are some of the best chemicals to ruin your beard. Regularly going in and out of saltwater can easily dry out your beard and cause it to become unruly. I have recently returned from a four-day trip to a national park where there were no showers and my beard was in and out of the water multiple times a day.
On returning to my home this is what I had to do to return my beard to its former glory.
I rinsed out my beard with freshwater after every day in the ocean. When I got home I made sure to rinse the salt out of my beard from the depths by using my fingertips to agitate right at the root of my beard.
Using a good quality shampoo such as one by honest Amish or beard brand will allow you to get rid of all of the salt and dirt that has built up at the base of your beard hair. When I returned from my National Park trip and after every scuba diving trip I have to do multiple passes with the beard soap before it is feeling good again. You should back this up with a good natural conditioner such as one that contains Argan oil or other natural conditioning ingredient to make sure that you don’t increasingly dry out the beard.
Beard butter and balm
Then I recommend that you follow up your shampooing and drying with a good beard butter and balm. Make sure that your beard has come into contact with Shea butter or other natural hydrating butter for a good amount of time. And – don’t be stingy with it. Allow the beard butter to sit against your beard for at least 30 minutes and then brush through with a natural bristle brush. This will return the nourishment and hydration back to your beard and by repeating this again in the morning the day after you will be sure to have a much better looking beard than when you first walk through the door after your big trip.
Scuba diving with a beard is completely doable. There are plenty of really good quality masks which means that you will be able to choose one with a soft enough skirt that will conform against your moustache and allow you scuba dive with the minimum of inconvenience.
There are some other tips and tricks if you find that the mask alone is not completing the seal such as using a silicone based lubricant and trimming your moustache so it is not as bushy. Ultimately, making sure that your scuba diving adventures are not inconvenienced by your beard, particularly if your scuba diving multiple times a week, will make your beard and scuba diving much more pleasurable.
Happy beard growing and diving!
I am an avid beard grower and after many years of growing and trialing different beard styles, I want to share the tips and tricks that I have learned along the way!