There are a few things you should keep in mind when snorkeling with a mustache or beard. As we have talked about in other articles, any facial hair can make it difficult for the skirt of the mask to seal to your face. This is due to the hair moving and breaking the bond that is necessary to keep water from filling your mask.
If you find that your mask used to work perfectly but now leaks your beard may be the cause. The skirt of the mask wraps around the top of your eyebrows, beside your eyes and above your lip. A mustache or beard can fight against the strength of the seal. But with that being said, there are a few things you can do to remedy this.
Check out the anatomy of a mask!
How To Increase The Seal
Your initial instinct will be to tighten your mask. This is logical as it makes sense that it would make it more difficult for water to enter the mask. But you’d be wrong. The material of the skirt (usually silicone) is designed to be soft and pliable. If you increase the tightness of the mask the skirt will make this material rigid and not contour with your face. As you guessed, this will make the mask leak even more than before.
What you need to do it loosen the mask. It will take a bit to get it to the right tension, but loosening the strap one notch at a time until it doesn’t leak will give you the best results. This will give the skirt more of a chance to make the best seal possible. Just keep in mind that a mask that is too loose fitting will also leak. So take your time to find the perfect tension.
Things To Keep In Mind
- If you are growing your beard try to trim your upper lip. The thinner the hair the more likely a seal will form. Also, we find the shorter your facial hair is the less water is likely to enter your mask.
- A mask with a silicone skirt will be your best choice if you have facial hair. It is one of the few materials that doesn’t change rigidity with the temperature. A mask with a rubber or PVC skirt will actually become more rigid as it gets colder thus letting water in.
- There are solutions you can use to increase the bond for people with facial hair. Mask Seal is one of these products. You simply add it to your beard where the mask sits and it helps make a complete seal. The only downside is that it can be hard to get out of your hair.
Pro Tip: Some people use petroleum jelly (aka, Vaseline), but this isn’t the best option. Since it has a petroleum base It can actually react with the silicone material and cause it to degrade.
- As your beard grows you will have to adjust the fit of your mask. You will find you have to loosen your mask even more as your beard grows. For people with especially long hair, it may be worthwhile to brush it before trying on the mask. This may help the skirt
- If you find that your mask is filling up and you are far from shore try purging your mask. While your face is in the water press on the top of the mask and breath out through your nose. You will find that the water will drain out the bottom of the skirt leaving you with a clear mask once again.
Full Face Snorkel Mask
If you have tried all of these tips and are not having any luck you have another option. A full face snorkel mask is essentially a mask and snorkel in one. It seals in different places than a typical mask and is less prone to filling with water. You will find that you have a larger field of view, sometimes up to 180 degrees.
The only downfall is that it is harder to dive with this type of lens. Since there is a larger pocket of air it can make you more buoyant which pushes you to the surface. Also, you will not be able to equalize when you descend. This makes it impossible to scuba dive with as you need to equalize the pressure even after a couple meters (6-8 feet) under the surface.
If you are serious about snorkeling and have a beard or mustache, you are in luck. These tips will give you the best chance of getting to experience the underwater world without the frustration of a leaky mask.