Preventing “Hairy” Mask Leaks

Ugh! Mask leaks! We asked two of the hairiest guys we know to discuss hair related problems when scuba diving—Captain Elliot and Captain Steve from Lahaina Divers. We’ll also cover some hairy diving issues for the fairer sex, including long hair, braids and bangs. Plus, we have some tips on keeping hair healthy, especially if you are a frequent diver.

Mustaches and Mask Leaks

Any barrier between your skin and a mask is prone to mask leaks. One solution is to shave that stash before your Maui vacation and let your upper lip see the light of a beautiful Hawaiian day. But if you and your ‘stash are inseparable, there are a few things you can do to get a decent seal and avoid leaks.

“Start off with quality equipment,” is Captain Steve’s best advice. A low-profile mask with soft silicone is a good choice, including the masks in Lahaina Diver’s rental inventory. 

You can also try a mustache balm or beeswax-based wax. Just avoid petroleum-based products since these can break down silicone and ruin your mask over time, not to mention being environmentally unfriendly.

Captain Elliot says proper mask fit is key. “Make sure your mask strap goes across the crown of the back of your head. If the strap is too high, the mask pulls up under the nose. If too low, the mask pulls down toward the upper lip and becomes loose.” Lahaina Divers crew can check your mask placement on the boat and make recommendations.

Scuba Diving Hair Care Tips

It might be obvious to rinse your hair with fresh water after diving in salt water. But rinsing in fresh water before a dive saturates your hair and prevents salt from being absorbed into the cuticle.

Make sure your hair is well conditioned at home before your diving charter with a reef-safe bio-degradable conditioner. Rinse your hair with fresh water after each dive. After the last dive and your final rinse, massage in a small amount of your reef-safe bio-degradable hair conditioner, towel dry and detangle with a wide tooth comb, starting from the bottom up. If you dive frequently, consider a deep conditioning treatment once a month to counteract and salt and sun damage to your hair.

Just like sunscreen, many other hair and body products contain ingredients that can cause coral bleaching or that are toxic to some reef fish. Avoid products containing benzophenone-3 (oxybenzone), butylparaben, octinoxate (ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate) and cyclopentasiloxane (cyclomethicone), as these damage the aquatic environment the most.

Stream to Sea is one reef-safe alternative for both conditioner and leave-in conditioner.

Help for long hair

A bare mask strap can grab and snarl your hair, making for an uncomfortable dive. Covering the mask strap with a neoprene sleeve is a cushy alternative (even short haired divers benefit from these “slap straps’). Lahaina Divers has a fun assortment of slap straps available in our store.

We also recommend picking up an inexpensive figure-8 shaped snorkel keeper. The clips and notches that likely came with your mask tend to snag long hair. 

It’s all in the style

How one styles their hair for scuba diving matters. If you have long hair, here are the four best ways to style it for a dive.

1. Twin tails. Creating two braids, or pigtails, creates less mass per braid, which can be easier to manage. It is also an adorbs style for women and some long-haired dudes.

2. An Oh là là braid. Weaving long hair into a French braid is not only one of the best ways to prevent hair snarls, it is also c’est trop jolie (so pretty)! 

3. A bun. Worn either on top of your head or at the nape of your neck to not interfere with your mask strap, a well secured bun can effectively keep long hair out of the way. So go ahead and rock the man bun, or gather up your lady locks.

4. A low pony tail off to one side. This can either be a braid or a pony with multiple elastics down it. Arranging it off to one side keeps it out of the way of your first stage.

Consider a head cover

For serious tangle-prevention, a beanie or hood has you covered. This solution is great for bangs, flyaway hair or medium lengths where other hair solutions just don’t work well.

A colorful beanie or hood can be a personality statement, or stick with a sleek-as-a-ninja black option.

Time to go diving!

Now that you got the hair thing figured out, it’s time to schedule your dive adventure!