As a certified diving instructor, I get this question at least once a month – “Can I dive with a beard and a mustache?”.
The short answer is – yes, you can.
Your beard, and especially your mustache, will make it harder to seal your mask properly.
Don’t worry, there are a couple of different methods you can use to get a proper seal and join the ranks of bearded scuba divers!
Potential Problems When Scuba Diving With a Beard or Mustache
You will have a hard time sealing your face mask properly if you have a beard or mustache. Depending on your mask, type of facial hair, and its length, the results can range from slight discomfort to a ruined dive or even potential accidents.
No one likes water leaking into their masks, but what other issues can bearded divers encounter?
Salt Drying Out in Your Facial Hair
Most scuba dives take place in saltwater, and if your mask isn’t sealed properly, it will make its way into your mask. With an average scuba dive session lasting for ~45 minutes, a lot of salt will deposit onto your skin. This will cause dryness and irritation, even after you wash it off.
You’re going on a dive to enjoy the underwater life and terrain, not to constantly clean your mask and hardly see through the fog. Even though you have to know how to clean your mask underwater and how to continue your dive in uncomfortable situations, constant water leakage is likely to ruin your dive.
Distraction & Danger
If you’re always concentrating on cleaning your mask and generally feel discomfort, you’ll be distracted, and that’s not a good thing when you’re underwater. Although the chances of your beard causing an accident underwater are low, there’s always a chance that you won’t pay attention and scratch yourself, forget to check your diving computer or follow your instructor.
As I’m sure your diving instructor has told you – you need to be careful and pay attention while underwater.
Why Scuba Masks Won’t Seal if you Have a Mustache or Beard?
Diving masks have silicone skirts that seal onto your face. Silicone seals easily onto flat surfaces, but facial hair makes your skin surface uneven thus making it harder to seal your mask properly.
Although you’ll likely need to use some of the methods below, there are bearded divers that don’t experience any problems at all (or they just don’t want to admit it?). Your facial hair type, length, and mask all influence how your mask will seal. There are also bearded divers that prefer the slight discomfort during dives to shaving their mustache or putting on silicon grease every time they dive.
So, before you put that grease on your beard, put on the mask and see how it seals onto your face. You might be one of the few lucky ones.
Also Read: Can you Dive Without a Tank?
4 Ways to Seal Your Diving Mask if you Have a Beard or ‘Stache
If you’ve tried putting your mask on and it doesn’t seal properly, especially if you’re a beginner, try some of the methods below to get a better seal. I have personally tried all methods, and they all work, it comes down to your preference.
Find a Mask That Fits You Perfectly
Full face masks are bigger and have a bigger sealing area, thus making it easier to seal. Simple scuba masks can work too, find one that fits you perfectly. Take a trip to your local dive shop and try out some masks until you find one that fits your face and seals well on your mustache.
Shave Your Upper Lip
If your mask fits you perfectly, but you still have water leaking when diving, you might have to shave your mustache a little bit under your nose. There’s no exact science here, but shaving off 1/8″ under the nose works for most people. Shave a little, then put your mask on and see if it fits better until you find your perfect spot.
Use a Sealant
I know, shaving your mustache, even a little bit, is a no-no. Well, in this case, you’ll need to use silicon grease or also known as mask wax, make sure it’s not petroleum-based. Some people use Vaseline, but I don’t recommend it because it will damage your skirt over time. Lip balms can also work – for example, Burt’s Bees Lip Balm.
If you do decide to use a sealant, don’t apply too much because they’ll mess up your beard and some of them are quite hard to clean.
Back to Babyface
If you don’t want to do any of the above methods before your dives, you have the extreme option – to shave it all and go back to babyface. Some bearded divers get tired of having to trim their mustache or apply grease before diving, so every once in a while you might want to take your beard down.
Also Read: Can You Scuba Dive with Contacts?
Diving with a beard or mustache has its difficulties, but it’s all worth it.
You can indeed keep your glorious beard and still enjoy your dives. Make sure your mask fits you, try shaving a little bit of your mustache right under the nose, and if that doesn’t work – use a lip balm or silicone grease to get a better seal.
Let me know in the comments what method you found the most useful.