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Anyone who has been snorkeling with an ill-fitting mask knows how annoying it is when the water starts to leak in. You have to pop your head up every few minutes to clear the water, only for it to come back in as soon as you put your head back under. This problem is particularly bad for men with beards and mustaches.
In this guide, I will run you through the causes of the problem and some fixes. The first fix is to use a set of swimming goggles and nose clip. The second is to use a full-face snorkeling mask. And finally, we have some tips for creating a seal with a traditional snorkeling mask. There are caveats to each of these fixes so make sure you read on to learn more.
Beards aren’t (usually) the Problem
The first thing I want to point out is that beards are not usually the problem when it comes to snorkeling. The problem lies with mustaches.
In order to keep water out of the mask, the mask needs to form a seal around the edge. A mustache can prevent a seal from forming and so water leaks in. For the most part, beards don’t get in the way of forming the seal except when your beard goes quite far up your face. But even then it isn’t usually enough to cause a problem.
Large beards can be a problem for snorkeling if you use a full-face mask. I talk a bit about that further down the page.
Are Certain Masks Better for Mustaches?
There isn’t a specific mask that will work better for mustaches. The best one is the one that fits right on you. However, a traditional snorkeling mask is the least favorable option for mustaches. For most people, I would recommend either a good quality set of swimming goggles or a full-face snorkeling mask.
Do bear in mind that there is a problem with swimming goggles and full-face snorkeling masks in that you can’t dive down with them. If you fancy doing some freediving, I recommend a traditional snorkeling mask and following the tips at the end of this page.
Swimming goggles are a great option for snorkeling with a mustache because no amount of facial hair will get in the way! This makes it the perfect method if you have a very large beard or mustache.
The downside is you cannot dive down with swimming goggles. The pressure will start to create a vacuum in the goggles and you can do some serious damage to your eyes if you dive down below any more than a few feet. When you dive down with a traditional snorkeling mask, you can blow out through your nose to equalize the pressure. This can’t be done with swimming goggles.
Also, bear in mind that they can be quite uncomfortable to wear over long periods.
If you choose to get some swimming goggles, I recommend the Aqua Sphere Seal 2.0 which you can find on Amazon. They are essentially a snorkel mask but without the nose part. They are comfortable, have a clear lens, and a wide field of view which is ideal for snorkeling.
You will also want to get yourself a nose clip if you decide to wear swimming goggles. When you’re appreciating the underwater world, it can be all to easy to forget to not breathe through your nose! Make sure you get yourself a nose clip like this one from Amazon.
Full-face masks actually have the opposite problem to traditional masks. They work quite well with mustaches, but not so much with beards. You should be able to get away with a small beard, but I wouldn’t recommend a full-face mask with a thick and full beard.
Recently, there has been some concern over the safety of full-face masks with deaths possibly being linked to them. Some of the cheaper, poorly designed models don’t have proper a proper CO2 valve mechanism. This means you are breathing in the same air that you are breathing out.
Like with the swimming goggles method, you cannot dive down with a full-face mask. When you dive down, you need to equalise the pressure in your ears by holding your nose and exhaling. A full-face mask covers your nose meaning you cannot equalise the pressure.
If you do decide to go with a full-face mask I would recommend getting a Tribord Easybreath which you can find on Amazon.
Tips for Creating a Seal
If you decide you want to go with a traditional snorkeling mask (this will especially be the case if you want to dive down), there are a few things you can do to help seal the mask and prevent water from leaking in.
- Silicone grease – Many people have found applying a small amount of silicone grease under the nose helps to form a seal. You can find silicone grease on Amazon. (Some people have used this method but with vaseline. I would advise against using vaseline as it can damage your mask.)
- Find a mask that fits – Everybody’s face is a different shape and the perfect mask for one person might be the worst fit for another. Some people with mustaches have found that simply finding a mask that fits well solves the problem. This isn’t always convenient though, especially for people who are only snorkeling casually.
- Trim the top of your mustache – As long as the part of the mask which touches your face is hair free it should form a seal. Shaving the very top of your mustache can sometimes be enough.
- Shave it off! – Okay, so this is probably not something you want to do. But remember, it’s going to grow back! If you plan on doing lots of snorkeling in a short period of time, perhaps it would be worth getting rid of the tache for a bit.
Yes, snorkeling with a beard or mustache does have some problems, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still possible to have a leak-free snorkeling trip. Hopefully this guide has provided you with a few ways of getting around the problem. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comment section down below!