If you’re a scuba diver, freediver, or spearfisher, you need your dive mask to seal airtight to your face. This can be a problem though if you’re rocking a beard or mustache. Luckily, most guys can find a way to make their mask work with their lady tickler. Here’s how.
How do I know? Well, that’s me in the photo at the top of this post. Tip #3 is what works best for me
Most men find that they are able to wear their dive mask over a mustache or beard and still get an airtight seal. Anyone struggling with this can try a few different tricks including shaving a small strip at the top just below the nose, growing it out longer than stubble, cleaning up stray hairs on the upper cheeks, using a beeswax balm to create a better seal, and finding the right mask with the best fit.
Here are the six ways you can dive comfortably while still oozing that Burt Reynold’s sex appeal:
1. Clean up any stray beard hairs on your upper cheeks
It’s possible that your mustache isn’t the only culprit that’s letting water into your diving mask. Before you go putting all the blame on your crumb catcher, make sure your straggling beard hairs aren’t part of the problem.
Look at yourself closely in the mirror while holding your mask up to your face. Are there any hairs on your cheeks above the outer edge of the mask? If so, you’ll want to shave these within a few hours before each dive.
Also, people get their hair (the normal ones on your head) caught in their mask skirt more often than they realize. You should either put your mask on while holding back your hair with an ungloved hand, or learn to put it on underwater while pushing your face through the water so your hair floats up away from your forehead.
2. Grow your mustache out longer than short stubble
It might seem counterintuitive but a short mustache will usually cause a mask and snorkel to leak more than a long one. With a shorter lip caterpillar, the sharp ends of the hairs are pointing away from your face and pushing directly outward on the mask’s skirt.
By letting your mustache grow a bit longer, the hairs should start to lie down, letting the mask get a better seal over them.
3. Shave a thin strip at the top of your mustache
For me personally, this is the key to my masked and mustachioed marine success. Before diving, I shave a very thin area at the top of my lip toupée, just below my nose. This gives the mask an area of flat skin to seal against, and it’s all I need to do to keep the water out.
The pro tip for doing this successfully is to use a safety razor that has the single blade edging tool on the back. The typical multi-blade razor these days is too wide to get up under your nose without shaving the whole mustache, so find a razor with that edging blade.
I personally order my razors from the subscription service Harry’s. Their blades have this feature, and they provide a comfortable shave at the best price I’ve found. If you use the link above to start a trial you can get $5 off (and earn me a couple of free blades…thanks!).
4. Apply some wax to your mustache for a better seal
If the tips above still aren’t enough to stop your mask from leaking, you can apply wax to your mustache to help fill in the gaps between the hairs.
Some people use vaseline for this, but petroleum breaks down silicone so over time this will make your mask seal even worse. Instead, use a product like Burts Beeswax Lip Balm. It’s easier to apply if you buy it in a tin rather than a chapstick style applicator, but either will work. You can buy a tin here on Amazon.
5. Use the right dive mask that works with your mustache
A lot of these types of posts claim to show you the best masks for guys with facial hair, but I believe this is bunk. As far as I know, there is no mask with a silicone skirt designed especially for sealing airtight over a mustache. (If you know of one, please drop a comment below).
Instead of looking for what works for other people, you should find a mask that most comfortably fits your face, as this will also have the best chance of sealing tight over your beard. Your best bet is to go to a dive shop and try on a bunch of different masks to find the best fit.
If you still plan to shop online, I highly recommend the Mako Minimus low-volume freediving mask. It’s what I use and what you see in the picture at the top of this post. The company is so sure this mask will fit your face that they’ll take it back and pay the shipping if it doesn’t fit. You can get the Minimus here on Amazon, or from the Mako website here.
6. Understand your own facial hair and its limitations
Everybody’s mustache grows differently and some people will find that they just can’t rock their dive mask and their Ronnie (there’s one for the Irish out there) together.
If your facial hair grows out very wiry or springy, it may just leave too much open space for water to come in even after you’ve done everything listed above. If that’s the case, you’ll just have to choose between your tea strainer and being able to dive.
Bonus tip: Clearing water from your mask underwater
This last one is something every scuba diver learns, but I’m always surprised at how many freedivers and spearos don’t know it. If your mask floods when you’re underwater, you CAN clear it in two easy steps:
- Look up toward the surface
- Press the top of your mask into your forehead
- Exhale a small amount of air through your nose
That’s it, that will get all the water out. This is obviously not ideal when you’re diving on apnea since it will mean less air in your lungs and a shorter dive time, but it’s still good to know.
Note that at a certain depth, usually below 20 or 30 meters, you can’t do this while on apnea since your lungs will be compressed so much they can’t produce any air for an exhale.
How about you guys? Any tips of your own to share? What has worked or not worked for you? Let me know in a comment below.
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