Can you snorkel with a beard? [insider tips and tricks]

Snorkelling is a fun summer activity. The underwater world is full of amazing fish, coral, and other sea life that can easily keep you floating around in the water for many hours. But, if you are a person with a beard snorkelling can become a little bit more difficult as the water would leak in through the bottom of the mask. The good news is that there are some things that you can do to maximise your comfort while you are snorkelling.

Snorkeling with a beard is easy. I have done it many times and all I have to do is choose a mask with a soft skirt and tighten the mask a little more than usual. After a little practice, it is like not having a beard at all!

Although it is certainly more comfortable to snorkel without any facial hair with a little bit of practice you can snorkel with a beard comfortably.

I recently went on holiday to an amazing diving location called Lord Howe Island. During this trip I have the opportunity to snorkel at multiple locations all across the island and, in this article, I will share with you the tips and tricks that I learned to make my snorkeling with a beard a non-issue.

Can you snorkel with a beard? Me on Lord Howe Island

Choose a good quality mask!

Firstly, not all masks are made the same. When you are renting equipment from a dive shop for snorkelling the skirt (bit of plastic that seals against your face) will be a little bit tougher. That is because rental equipment needs to go through a lot more usage and needs to be more robust.

The less flexible skirt on the mask will mean that it will not be able to conform to the little debits in your moustache as well as a softer mask.

Ask the dive shop that you are renting the gear from if you can try a range of different masks. Quite often they have a range of sizes and brands for you to try on. As a general rule of thumb: you should choose the dive mask with the softer skirt so that it can easily conform to the hair under your nose.

If you cannot find a good quality rental snorkel then the only option is to take your own dive mask with you. This is how you ensure that you buy a good quality mask that will help you create a good seal under your nose.

Buy a good quality mask

The ultimate way to ensure that your beard does not get in the way of the snorkelling is to buy a dive mask that has a really soft silicone or plastic skirt with a relatively thin section underneath the nose. This will help maximise the amount of pressure which is created just underneath the nostrils to help you create a full seal.

You should also make sure that the skirt of mask that you are buying performs well under a range of different temperatures. Some mask skirts significantly firm up at cold temperatures. Make sure that you test your mask at your local water temperature. For some of you that could be as low as 12° C.

Sometimes, you just can’t find the right scuba diving or snorkel mask to completely seal against your beard.

Because the weakest part of the seal is just under the nose at the moustache area you can opt for a mask that does not include the nose section. Let’s look at that now.

Best masks for snorkeling 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

Buy a mask without the nose skirt

You can also try to snorkel with a mask without the nose part of the skirt. The issue with this is that you will also need to buy a nose clip to seal off your nose and you will not be able to equalise the pressure in your ears as you dive down as easily – like you do when scuba diving.

However, if you do not intend on doing any free diving, a mask without the nose skirt could be an option for ensuring a 100% waterproof seal against your face.

The Aqua Sphere Seal 2.0 Adult Swim Goggle is a great option for anyone who wants a mask to seal properly because they have a beard.

  • VISION + COMFORT. Created with vision and comfort in mind, the Seal 2 Swim Goggles (Black/Green) feature a leak-free fit and are made with lightweight smoke Plexisol lenses and an easily adjustable side buckle.
  • CURVED LENS TECHNOLOGY. Our patented curved lens technology offers the clearest possible visibility and 180° wide field of vision with exceptional hydrodynamics..
  • UV & ANTI-FOG. The original swim mask for adults, The Seal 2 is constructed with 100% UVA/UVB protection. Pairing that with a scratch-resistant anti-fog lens, you’ll be enjoying the water year round!
  • SMOKE LENS. The Smoke Lens reduces light transmission to the eye, reducing brightness and glare and making it ideal for conditions with high light levels. Great for outdoors and sunny conditions.

Try a full face snorkel mask

If you have a short beard you can opt to use a full face snorkel mask. Some people find these more comfortable than a snorkel tube directly into the mouth as they feel like they have a better sense of breathing comfortably through both the nose and the mouth.

Can you wear a full face snorkel mask with a beard?

You can only wear a full face snorkel mask if you have a short beard. The beard should be no longer than 1 inch in length at the chin area as if you have a long beard water will easily see in through the bottom of the mask and fill it up with water.

One of the best full face snorkel is the WildHorn Outfitters Seaview 180° V2 Full Face Snorkel Mask. This is because it has advanced airflow intake system and is made in the USA through a robust manufacturing techniques.

  • FLOWTECH ADVANCED AIR INTAKE SYSTEM- Breathe naturally and comfortably through your nose and mouth. Flowtech has two chambers and 4 intake valves to allow air to circulate in and out freely. Using one-way valves and a separate breathing chamber ensures fresh air is always circulating through the mask. Flowtech provides 50 percent easier work of breathing compared to other full face snorkeling masks on the market. This combined with safe levels of CO2 make this the best full face snorkel mask
  • DESIGNED AND TESTED IN THE USA – The Seaview 180° V2 snorkeling mask was created by our team of experienced product designers and engineers. Through meticulous iteration we improved the airflow, visibility, fit, camera mount and safety of the full face snorkeling mask experience. The Seaview V2 launched on Kickstarter in 2018 and was backed by thousands of people. We used 3rd party experts to measure the airflow and CO2 elements of the mask to ensure a safe user experience for all.
  • ENHANCED FEATURES- The patent pending angled tube design allows for less restricted, two-way airflow. The angled snorkel tube stays above water more easily and gives your head more freedom of movement. The viewing area is 20 percent larger to give you more visibility. The camera mount now swivels and is located near the chin to stay under water more easily. The ergonomics and fit are much improved. Lastly, the additional one-way valves and separate breathing chamber help to reduce fogging.

Using a full face mask is not an option for me at the moment and it is not an ideal option for the majority of beard growers once they past 1 inch of growth. But, the good news is that there are plenty of other options for you if you still want to use a regular snorkelling mask.

Use Christo lube (not Vaseline!)

The first option that you can use is to add a little bit of silicone sealant to your moustache to increase the seal that it makes with the mask.

When I went to Lord Howe Island I used ChristoLube in my moustache. I actually used it while going scuba diving and found that it sealed up my mask relatively well. You can see it in the photo below. The white smear on the top of my moustache is a silicone grease.

can you snorkel with a beard - lubricant

I highly recommend that you do not use a petroleum-based product like Vaseline because it will degrade the mask if it sits against the plastic over a long period of time. If the dive shop does not have its own supply you can buy it online here – check latest prices on Amazon. The great thing about Christo is that it is designed specifically for diving systems and it is non-toxic, nonflammable, non-reactive, and biologically harmless if it comes off in the water – which you probably won’t because it’s pretty serious stuff.

I did a second dive without the Christo Lube and found that the mask did leak a little bit more but it was still manageable. For that dive all I had to do was tighten down the mask a little bit more than usual.

Tighten the mask a little more

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.

Ensuring that it is tightly pressed against your forehead will mean that water will not be able to leak in an area will not be able to escape upwards. If the mask is full of air and it cannot leak out the top you have done the majority of the problem-solving for a leaky mask.

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.

Get used to clearing your mask more often!

If you are familiar with scuba diving you will be used to clearing your mask while you are diving. If you have not done any scuba diving training then learning how to clear your mask will make sure that you will always be able to see and give you an extra level of confidence when you are snorkelling.

Here is a quick tutorial on a scuba skill – mask clearing.

You can do exactly the same thing in the water with snorkel gear. It just takes a little bit of practice and your be able to clear your mask like a professional scuba diver.

Frequently asked questions

Here are a few frequently asked questions related to can you snorkel with a beard?

Can you snorkel with a mustache?

Yes, you can snorkel with a moustache. All you have to do is select the right mask which seals comfortably against your moustache. Typically these sorts of masks have a very soft skirt. You can also try using Christo lube in your moustache to stop it from leaking water.

You should consider trimming down your moustache to a shorter length if you are going to be snorkelling regularly as, in my experience, only full length moustaches are a problem. This is because they create tiny little air channels throughout the entire moustache for air to leak out and water to leak in.

Can you scuba with a beard?

Yes, you can absolutely scuba dive with a beard. All you have to do is follow the same advice in this article. Also, you should check out my other article about can you scuba dive with a beard question mark making a breeze – click here to be taken to article.

I have also created a YouTube video where you can discover all of the things I found I on my recent trip to Lord Howe Island. This includes scuba diving and snorkelling:

Summary

In this article we have covered all of the ways that you can snorkel with a beard. There is no need for you to avoid this awesome summer activity just because you have a beard. It really comes down to choosing the best mask which will seal comfortably and securely against your face.

There are many masks for you to choose from and if you struggle to hire a mask that fits comfortably against your beard you should consider buying one. You can either buy a full face mask, a mask without the nose skirt, and a full face shield if you do not have a beard longer than one inch.

Pulling the mask a little bit tighter, using some silicone scuba lubricant can also go a long way to making your snorkelling more comfortable!

Get out there and enjoy the sea life!

The Author


Andy Stapleton

Andy is a writer and YouTuber with a PhD in science. He has written and/or produced videos for Science Alert, COSMOS magazine, and Australia's Science Channel among others. He is an avid beard grower and after many years of growing and trialing different beard styles, he started this blog to share the tips, tricks, and science that he has learned along the way!