Fellas. If you last went snorkeling without a beard and now you have a glorious mane, you might be wondering if you can still wear a full face snorkel mask without any water leakage.
The solution for a traditional snorkel mask is quite straightforward, however when it comes to wearing a full face snorkel mask with a beard, there are some slight differences.
Whether you can successfully wear a snorkel mask with a beard depends on many factors: the quality of your mask, the size and shape of your beard, whether you’ve applied a sealant, and if you’re willing to give your beard a little bit of a trim.
For example, if you have a mustache or a goatee instead of a bushy beard, then like for a traditional snorkel mask, you won’t have any problems wearing a full face mask either!
The issue arises when your beard is much more prominent; you may have to trim it down or accept that you may not be able to snorkel with a full face mask.
With that said, before you do anything too drastic, we want to provide you with some tips to help you get a better seal with your full face mask so that it may be possible for you to snorkel with a beard.
Why facial hair is an issue
Whether you’re wearing a traditional or full face snorkel mask, you need to ensure that the mask’s silicone skirt can form a watertight seal between your face and mask.
The seal is what keeps water from entering the mask while your face is submerged underwater, and unfortunately, strands of hair from your beard and mustache can get in the way of a tight seal. If your mask leaks, then it’s not doing its job and you will not be able to snorkel at all.
Naturally, the bigger and fuller your beard is, the harder it’s going to be for a full face snorkel mask to seal tightly against your face. Even just a single rogue strand of hair creeping its way between the silicon skirt and your face can break the seal and be an entry point for water.
That said, there are ways you can strengthen that seal that don’t involve being clean shaven. Some of our tips do advocate at least trimming your beard, however shaving your beard off should be a last resort after you try out all of the other options.
Beard shape and size matters
It doesn’t take a genius to realize that the bigger your beard is, the more it’s going to get in the way. Similarly, if your beard is a specific shape, it might also get in the way of a tight seal, or it might not.
Recall the example we gave earlier regarding a mustache and a goatee. Since a full face mask completely covers the nose and mouth, mustaches are generally fine unless you have one that is so wide it connects to the beard. As for a goatee, it’s possible the full face mask can cover over it, or if the goatee is thin enough, the silicone skirt might still be able to seal over it.
Conversely, if your beard is very bushy and big (think Robin Williams in Jumanji, Hagrid in Harry Potter, or any mall Santa), we can tell you right now it’s not going to work. Either trim it down to a more manageable length, or go back to using a traditional snorkel mask (and even that might not work).
At this point, not even the best full face mask with a generous amount of sealant applied on the mask skirt is going to successfully keep water out. You might be able to wear a dive hood over your beard and then wear a full face mask over the hood, but depending on your beard size, this may be uncomfortable.
Tips for wearing a full face snorkel mask with a beard
Assuming that you do not have a massive beard, here are some solutions you can try to find a full face snorkel mask that fits.
Find a mask that fits your face
This may sound obvious, but are you sure your mask fits your face? For instance, perhaps you have a narrow face and your mask is a bit too wide, leaving some gaps that could cause leaks regardless if you had a beard or not.
Unfortunately, this is a frustrating tip to try and implement because you can’t really know if a mask fits you well if you’re buying online (the size charts are not always accurate). Plus, even if you’re able to try on various masks in-store, you still don’t know if that means it’s leak-free or not.
The only test you can really do is use your fingers to trace the mask skirt along your face and check for any obvious bumps or areas where you think the seal is very weak. It’s hard to do this alone, so bring a friend with you or ask a store employee for assistance.
Getting a mask that fits your face is actually step zero, because most guides already assume you did this step perfectly which is not a reasonable assumption to be honest.
Use mask sealant or silicone grease
Assuming that your mask fits your face reasonably well and the cause of any water leak has been isolated to your beard or mustache interfering with the seal, then you may need some help in the form of mask sealant or medical grade silicone grease.
Remember that mask leaks when you have a beard are caused by the strands of your beard hair creating tiny gaps that allow water to enter where the silicone skirt should otherwise be flush against your face.
By applying a mask sealant or medical grade silicone grease on your silicone skirt, you are essentially trying to block these gaps, forming a watertight seal once again.
Some people have tried it with Vaseline with varying degrees of success, but it might discolor or otherwise weaken your mask skirt.
This advice has a much higher chance of success if your beard is more like stubble, such as a 5 o’clock shadow, rather than a full beard. If you have a bushy beard, even mask sealant is unlikely to work.
Wear a dive hood
Since the mask skirt needs a relatively smooth surface to be able to seal tightly on, wearing a dive hood over your beard can provide the smooth surface it needs without needing to shave your beard.
If that still doesn’t work, you can try using mask sealant as well to help form a tighter seal on your dive hood.
The downside of this tip is that you need to purchase yet another product. Plus, depending on how large your beard is, it still might not fit under a dive hood nor would it necessarily feel comfortable.
However, this is basically a Hail Mary solution at this point because any further solutions require you to trim your beard or shave it off completely.
Give your beard a trim
Alright, so we are at the point where we need to make some compromises. If your beard simply isn’t cooperating, you might need to give it a trim. Not a full on shave, just a trim! Thinning out a thick beard will increase the chances of the mask skirt sealing on your face.
Normally the suggestion is to trim the top of your mustache (a small strip of it just below your nose), but this only applies to a traditional snorkel mask. Since we are focused on a full face snorkel mask which can cover over your mustache, you don’t have to trim your mustache at all unless it’s super wide.
Pay attention to where exactly the skirt of your full face mask is touching your facial hair and thin those areas out to make it seal more easily.
Use a traditional snorkel mask instead
If all else fails, rather than get rid of your beard, I think you should just try wearing a traditional snorkel mask instead.
As mentioned, with a snorkel mask, you only need to trim the top of your mustache and maybe a little bit of your beard just below your cheekbones depending on where the mask skirt ends up on your face.
I was very clear that you are fighting an uphill battle trying to wear a full face snorkel mask with a beard, and it’s pretty much impossible if your beard is big. So unless you would rather shave off your glorious beard, the best compromise you can make if all other solutions fail is to switch to a traditional snorkel mask and give yourself a bit of a trim in a few areas instead of a full shave.
Can you wear a full face snorkel mask with a beard: the verdict
Sorry, but there is no definitive yes or no answer to this question because it depends on many factors that are different for each person.
For instance, the size and shape of your beard, full face mask and your facial structure, whether you’re willing to do a light trim or not, if you are willing to try reinforcing the seal with mask sealant and if you are wearing a dive hood over your beard, etc.
You might be one of the lucky few that can pull it off or you might not even want to attempt making this work and either shave off your beard or give up on using a full face mask.
Whatever your decision, even though you are fighting an uphill battle, it’s not completely hopeless. Give some of our solutions a try and you might be one of the lucky ones that can make it work.