Getting prepared mentally and physically is crucial for you to have a fantastic snorkeling experience. Skills and practice are essential, but your personal items that protect your face and body also count to enrich the experience. Whether you’re in a pool or the ocean, protecting your eyes underwater is important.
You can use snorkeling masks or dive masks for this purpose, as they allow you to see underwater by creating an air pocket in front of your eyes. They also help eliminate visual distortion caused by the water. There are some differences among different types of masks and models, but they are all uniquely made for a purpose. If you want to remain safe while snorkeling, you need the right eyewear to protect your eyes, as well as the proper breathing equipment for your underwater adventure.
Snorkel masks vs. dive masks
Snorkel masks make it easy to breathe with the face in the water while you watch the world underwater. It’s a device used for breathing air from above the surface while your head is facing downwards in the water with the mouth and nose submerged. It can be separate or integrated into a swimming or diving mask.
Snorkel masks are made with lightweight and inexpensive polycarbonate lens attached to a water-tight seal. Half masks are available, and it covers the face from the forehead to the nose, and the straps hold the snorkel tube. With an attached snorkel, you can keep your head under the water longer. The covered nose and snorkel help you to breathe through your nose comfortably while submerged.
Meanwhile, a dive mask is a device that allows scuba divers, underwater divers, free divers, snorkelers to delve deeper into the water wherein water pressure becomes too intense. In the depths of 10 feet or more, swimming goggles and snorkel masks won’t handle the water pressure, and it can cause the goggles to squeeze. The pressure underwater increases as you go deeper, and since your mask traps a thin pocket of air in front of your eyes, deep-sea diving can make the mask tighten and apply pressure to the area around your eyes.
For this reason, dive masks are made of sturdier and more durable materials to withstand the rigors of scuba diving. Dive masks, or scuba masks, are subjected to more scrutinizing tests during manufacturing. Its lenses are made of tempered glass to prevent it from shattering. Dive masks are also more expensive than snorkel masks, given that they are made of better quality materials.
Whatever mask you use for snorkeling, you must take note of the following tips to protect your eyes as you go down the waters:
Make sure your mask fits your face properly
When buying a mask, your first and foremost criteria is it should always be appropriately fitted to your face. The rubber-like portion of the mask that keeps contact with your face is called the skirt, and it works to make a water-tight seal against your skin.
When you try on the mask, the skirt must be in contact with your face at all times. Once the skirt is touching the skin, inhale gently through your nose. Try to hold your breath and don’t inhale and exhale. The mask must create a vacuum and seal on your face, not allowing any more air to be inhaled. Remove your hands from holding the mask. A well-fitting mask must stick to your face even without you holding it in place. Also, once you try on the mask in your face hands-free, you don’t inhale through your nose. Inhaling can make just about any mask stick to your face. The better the mask sticks to your face, the less likely you’ll encounter any leaks when you move your head in the water.
This quick test will quickly narrow down your choices as you weed out the other masks that don’t fit your face properly. No matter how much you liked its color or design, if it doesn’t pass this test, you must let go of it.
Also, there must be no hair that is caught in between your face and the mask, as it will not make a good seal with your face, and eventually, your mask will leak underwater. If you have facial hair, trim it to allow good skin-to-rubber contact. During snorkeling, it will be difficult to remove your hair from your mask since you will be treading the waters. Before you put on your mask, wet your hair and slick it back away from your face. Then, out on the mask and run your finger around the edges of the skirt to ensure that no hair is caught under it.
Remove excess water out of your mask when needed
Even if the mask fits well in the store, sometimes, water leaks in the mask as you use it. One of the most important things to learn about as you snorkel is how to get water out of the mask. You have to remove it so you can breathe and to protect your eyes. There are different techniques to keep your snorkeling mask from getting filled with water, although it’s possible to remove excess water from the mask even if you’re underwater if you wish. If your mask fills up with water, remember not to panic – you just need to get back to the surface to get the water out.
Take extra caution when wearing contacts while snorkeling
Since your eyes are protected with the mask, you can still wear your contact lenses. However, you have to be aware that if it floods inside, you may lose your contacts. You have to be careful when snorkeling with lenses.
But to be safer, you can rent or buy a mask with prescription lenses. Some stores offer snorkel masks for near-sighted people. If you have poor vision, you can get grounded prescription lenses for your snorkeling goggles at any good diving shop. You can also get snap-in lenses in your approximate prescription placed on a full snorkel mask. These come in adjustments that can be offered for near-sighted up to – 10.0 diopters, and even in far-sighted and bifocal-wearing people. However, snap-in lenses do not work well for persons with astigmatism.
If you want to buy your own prescription masks, check out great choices here.
Defog your mask
To keep optimum visibility while snorkeling, one of the most important skills you need to know is defogging your mask. It’s one of the most important things to learn when snorkeling as a beginner, as the condition of the mask can make or break your snorkeling experience. The number one reason for a foggy snorkeling mask is a dirty mask. The moisture that forms inside the mask needs to attach to something, like oils and specks. But if your mask is clean, moisture is less likely to attach to it.
To clear the fog up, a lot of skilled snorkelers recommend baby shampoo as a defogging solution. Simply use 15 – 18 drops of baby shampoo mixed with water and put it in a 2.5-ounce spray bottle. It acts as a surfactant to reduce the surface tension of the condensing water, making it less likely to cling to the mask. Besides a baby shampoo, you can also use an anti-fog gel or defog solutions. They really work.
Prevent your mask from fogging
We all know that prevention is better than cure, so it’s best to prevent your mask from fogging even before it happens. To do this, you have to clean your mask often and avoid touching the insides. Clean it with toothpaste (make sure it’s paste) and a toothbrush, not your finger. Scrub the glass with a small amount of toothpaste gently, then rinse it completely with hot water. Do this numerous times before you first use a mask. However, this is only applicable with a glass mask – if your mask is made of plastic, use dish soap and a very soft brush or washcloth to avoid scratching the plastic. Always bring a travel pack of these cleaners when you go out and snorkel.
Once your mask is clean, put it on your face quickly. Make sure it’s dry before you put it on. Put it on a relatively dry face so the rubber skirt would work better. Once the mask is on, and it’s all sealed up, keep from removing it to prevent moisture from entering.