We’ve all been there before. You have the day off work, the sun is shining, the wind is gone, the sea’s are flat and the visibility is going off! You head down to your favourite local dive site like a young child running to unwrap their presents on Christmas morning. After you’ve prepped your gear and headed out into the water you put your head underwater only to find that your annoying mask won’t seal correctly and feels like it’s actually letting the whole ocean in.
Whether you’re just learning to dive or you’ve been at it for years, improper mask sealing is a major frustration amongst divers, spearos and snorkelers alike. However it can be easily fixed by selecting the correct mask for your face. So to get a good fit for your new mask here’s some tips that should make a real difference and get rid of the problems of a leaking dive mask.
When choosing a new dive mask, three sets of criteria are critically important: fit, fit and fit. As no two faces are alike, proper mask fitting needs to be given the time it deserves to ensure a successful outcome.
The first consideration when buying a mask is how well its skirt seals against your face. Despite claims to the contrary, no one mask fits all faces. While the vast majority of mask skirts range from 10 to 12 cms (4.5 to 5 inches) in width between temples, their shapes differ considerably. So the only way to find the right mask for your face is to go into your local dive store and actually try them on for yourself. These three steps will help you to successfully complete this process.
Step 1: Try as many different masks on as possible. Don’t be sucked in by colours, price or wow factors. Remember that the best mask in the world is the one that fits your face correctly, not everyone else. Once you have a selection of masks to choose from adjust the mask strap so that it’s as loose as possible and out of the way. Some dive shops may even let you remove the mask strap all together. The main thing is you do not want the strap to be involved in the fitting process. Many divers forget that when you are in the water it’s actually the water pressure, not the strap pressure, that should seal the mask to your face. In fact divers who over tighten their mask strap can actually cause a mask to leak even though it may have a correct fit! Not too mention that a mask strap done up too tight will only result in a terrible headache later on!
Step 2: Ensure that there is no hair under the mask skirt when you place the mask up to your face. A major cause of a leaking mask is hair being trapped between the diver’s face and the mask seal. So you should always move any hair away from the sealing area. Next, put the mask on your face and move it this way and that until it feels centered, comfortable and all edges of the skirt are in direct contact with your face. It’s also important to relax your face muscles when completing this step. Incidentally you’d be surprised just how many people naturally start making peculiar faces when doing this step – so remember to relax your face. For the ladies, it’s also a good idea to not wear any makeup the day you decide to try on new masks as it can also lead to inaccuracies and improper fit.
Step 3: With the mask against your face gently suck through your nose and let go of the mask with both off your hands. If it has made a good seal it will stick to your face for a couple of seconds. Remember, don’t suck too hard as it will just distort the skirt and give it a false seal. A properly fitting mask will seal with a gentle inhalation effort.
Step 4: Now adjust the strap so that the mask is just barely held in place against gravity, not pulled tight, and try Step 3 again. Sucking should pull the mask toward your face. Hold your breath. The mask should stay pulled in for several seconds—the longer it stays, the better the seal.
Once you’ve found your perfect mask that fits your face and seals correctly, don’t forget to give it a proper prep when you get it home so that it’s ready to go and won’t fog up when you need it on your next dive. Unfortunately all new dive masks fog very readily when they’re new and it’s due to the residual silicone left on them from the manufacturing process. In fact some frameless design masks are absolutely notorious for this problem and its caused because of the residue also leaching out of the skirt and strap material causing the fogging to persist.
However it’s really easy to fix and there is a solution. Over the years many, many methods have been developed to combat this problem including the ol’ toothpaste option. We have tried them all and truly believe that by far the best and easiest way to clean off residual silicone is to use McNett Sea Buff. Sea Buff is a specially formulated dive mask pre-cleaner that carefully removes all residue left on new dive mask lenses by the manufacturing process and prepares the surface for the first application of anti fog. Sea Buff can also be used to remove other residue accumulated on masks while diving or during storage.
Finally, now that you’ve found your perfect fitting mask, pre-cleaned it to remove the silicone residue, you’ll want to ensure that it won’t fog up on you when you’re in the water doing what you love. McNett Sea Gold is your best option by far. It’s a powerful formula that lasts much longer than other anti fog treatments and is 1000 times better than just spit. Sea Gold is the best anti-fog treatment out there and is even effective through multiple dives. Simply put a little of this unique highly concentrated formula onto your mask lenses, rub around with your finger tip, wash it off and you good to go and enjoy your diving completely fog free and most importantly leak free thanks to your new, correct fitting, dive mask. 🙂