top of page

All About Scuba Masks - Your Complete Guide

When the human eye encounters water directly, as opposed to its typical airborne surroundings, the light entering the eye gets refracted at a different angle, leading to an inability to focus light onto the retina. By introducing an air space in front of the eyes, the eye can regain the ability to focus nearly normally. This is why a diving mask is essential, as our ability to see clearly is compromised without it.

Finding The Perfect Scuba Mask

Diving masks are available in various shapes and internal volumes, with each design generally fitting some facial contours better than others. The most important aspects of choosing a mask are the correct fit and comfort. Everything else is just a bonus. It’s not unusual that divers may have multiple masks for different types of diving, each one working to optimise a specific type of dive.

A correct fit of scuba masks is essential; otherwise, you run the risk of encountering leaks, discomfort, and frequent fogging. The majority of scuba masks come with both an outer and inner seal, designed to make contact with the face simultaneously. Ensure that the inner seal makes full contact with your face, leaving no gaps. Try on several masks and select the one that feels the most comfortable and fits you best. An uncomfortable mask has the potential to cause discomfort or headaches while diving.

Scuba masks come with various lens types designed for different diving scenarios.

As most divers suggest, single-lens masks provide an expansive field of vision due to their uninterrupted lens stretching across the mask's length. This design is particularly suitable for dives where you wish to observe marine creatures and surrounding wildlife. Moreover, a frameless single-lens mask is advantageous for technical and cave diving. Whether you're navigating coral reefs or delving into underwater caves, a single-lens mask proves to be the ideal choice.

Although single-lens masks enjoy popularity within the diving community, many prefer dual-lens - also known as twin or double-lens masks. Instead of one solid lens across the entirety of the mask, dual masks have two separate lenses. These masks have a low-volume design, making them simpler to clear if they become flooded during a dive.

An additional advantage of dual lens masks is the option to incorporate corrective lenses for individuals who wear glasses or do not use contact lenses.

Tri-lens scuba masks are becoming more popular, bringing numerous advantages to divers. Essentially, it’s a single lens mask with clear windows on either side, providing minimal interference, an increasing peripheral vision, and a panoramic view.

Getting Your Mask Ready For The First Dive

While your brand-new mask might appear ready for immediate use in the water, this approach just won't work out well. During the mask's manufacturing, a thin layer of silicone and mould release agents forms on the lens. This thin film tends to lead to persistent fogging that regular anti-fog methods struggle to counteract effectively. Therefore, it becomes crucial to eliminate this film from the lens before embarking on your initial dive. Numerous approaches exist for accomplishing this task, and within the diving community, fervent debates surround the efficacy of each method. You're welcome to explore alternative techniques, yet within this article, we will delve into the method we personally favour.

While this approach can be contentious, as the idea of applying an open flame from a cigarette lighter to a new mask might appear counterintuitive, it can prove remarkably effective when executed properly. It's essential to note that this technique is only suitable for masks constructed from tempered glass and lacking bifocal lenses. The procedure involves the following steps:

  • Find a sheltered area within the dive site or on the boat if you're outdoors. Avoid choosing a windy spot where the flame will dance in the wind. It's crucial to be precise to prevent any harm to the mask's skirt and frame.

  • Opt for a lighter equipped with a mechanism positioned at a safe distance from the flame. Unlike the brief contact needed for lighting a cigarette, in this case, you'll have to keep the flame burning for a few seconds at least, and you certainly wouldn't want to risk burning your fingers or damaging the mask's skirt.

  • Position the flame near the interior of the lens, ensuring it doesn't come into direct contact with it. Initiate this step at a distance of around 3-4 cm from the lens.

  • Delicately sweep the flame in a consistent motion around the central portion of the lens. The concentrated heat will induce temporary fogging and a slight darkening of the mask, but you'll observe the silicone dissipating, revealing a clear section. When bringing the flame nearer to the frame, exercise extreme caution to avoid getting too close to the edge, as this could result in scorching or distorting the skirt.

  • Bear in mind that the lenses will be hot. When you’re done, set the mask down on a secure surface and let it rest undisturbed for 2-3 minutes. Use a tissue or cloth to gently eliminate any soot residue. Once the mask has fully cooled down, rinse it with water to eliminate any lingering residue.

Prevent Fogging Before Each Dive

Prepare your mask by applying a defogging agent prior to each dive. While there are anti-fog gels designed explicitly for scuba masks available for purchase, any shampoo or soap will do the job. However, be mindful of using eco-friendly products to avoid introducing chemicals into the ocean with every dive.

Alternatively, you can use a simple method: spit into the mask, spread it around, and then rinse with water right before wearing it. Another step to prevent fogging is to cool your face down before putting on the mask.

Defogging Underwater

Despite your pre-dive preparations, your mask can become foggy during a dive. To counter this, you can use a straightforward method to defog it. Let a small amount of water enter your mask, then use this water to clean the interior of the lens by tilting your head forward, swishing the water around the lens, and subsequently draining the water.

Mask Airspace Equalisation

As a diver goes deeper underwater, the surrounding pressure increases. Consequently, it becomes crucial to equalise the pressure inside the mask with the external ambient pressure to prevent the mask squeeze, a form of barotrauma. This is achieved by allowing air to flow out through the nose into the mask, reducing the pressure disparity. On the ascent, equalisation occurs automatically because excess air within the mask can easily escape past the seal.

Submerged Without a Mask

Being underwater without a mask is not an emergency since you can continue to breathe, swim, and even resurface safely if necessary. Furthermore, remember that you always have a buddy who can assist you. Every diver should feel at ease when not wearing a mask, as unexpected mask loss can trigger panic, potentially resulting in severe injuries.

The problem starts for most novice divers when the mammalian dive reflex kicks in. When water touches the face, signals reach the brain and autonomic nervous system, triggering the airway's instant closure and various physiological adjustments to optimise oxygen conservation.

Inexperienced divers who haven't practised diving without a mask, perhaps having only taken it off during their initial open water course, could face a highly hazardous scenario.

If the mask comes off, there's a strong likelihood they'll instinctively hold their breath and attempt an ascent to the surface, risking serious injuries. Hence, being comfortable without a mask is crucial. Adapting to mask-free situations is achievable through consistent training and practice, and it is essential to minimise potential panic while diving.

The Necessity of Having a Backup Mask.

While we've previously explored the possibility of diving without a mask, it's far from ideal and should only be considered briefly. As you learned at the beginning of this article, proper vision is compromised without a mask, impairing your ability to read gauges or perceive your environment accurately.

In instances where your primary mask becomes compromised – such as a snapped strap, accidental dislodging due to a fin kick, or persistent problems like fogging or flooding – it's prudent to have a contingency plan. Carrying a spare mask prepares you for these scenarios, enabling a seamless transition to the backup mask and ensuring an uninterrupted dive experience.

Practice Makes Perfect

We consistently encourage our divers to hone their scuba skills on every dive. You don't have to allocate an entire dive for skill development, but a bit of practice during each dive goes a long way in maintaining your proficiency, ensuring your comfort, and keeping you prepared for unforeseen circumstances. This applies to all essential skills, particularly those that can be lifesaving for you or your dive buddy.

Join our growing community now and dive into a world of scuba tips, instructional videos, and so much more! Subscribe to the FlowState Youtube Channel!

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page