Snorkeling with a Mustache or Beard

We received a call from a male customer to who had purchased a mask in our brick and mortar location about four months prior to his vacation. Most of the masks that we sell had fit his face quite well and he used his new mask at a pool to verify the fit and was pleased with his purchase. His called a week before his vacation in which he stated that his mask no longer fit. After going through some troubleshooting and not being able to determine the cause, we asked him to come back in. As soon as he walked in, we immediately determined the reason, he had been cultivating a rather bushy mustache since he used his mask.

The mask covers portions of the face which is inclusive of the area located between the nostrils of the nose and the upper lip as well as portions of the cheekbone area on both sides of the face. The sealing surface of the mask skirt is to conform to those areas in a way that keeps it air tight. If it can not conform to these areas then it can not create an airtight seal thereby allowing water to enter into the viewing area. Having facial hair may have an adverse effect on the sealing capability of a mask in that the hair is breaking the seal that the skirt is trying to offer. Between a mustache and a beard, it is the mustache that would have the greater affect with regard to being the culprit for leakage as most beards are not often grown high enough up the cheek bone areas to interfere with the skirt. (read our article, Anatomy of the Mask).


Most snorkelers with a leaky mask will think that tightening the mask strap will alleviate this problem but in reality this may make the leakage problem worse. The material used in the skirt and sealing surface which (in quality masks) is a soft and pliable silicone, which will end up being stretched so it will not conform to the face. In this instance the simple act of smiling or even removal of the snorkel will cause the mask to leak, you should try loosening the strap to create a better seal. It may take a few tries to find the correct tension needed for the correct seal. The way the strap in positioned on the back of the head may play a role in achieving the perfect seal by moving it to the crown of the head will create a tighter seal around the lower portion of the skirt without compromising the flexibility of the silicone.

  1. Try thinning out the mustache. A mustache that is too thick will definitely not provide the proper seal.

  2. Trim the mustache area below the nostrils and the lip area to try to create a bare area on which the mask may seal. I personally dislike the "Hitler" look, but it may just work for you. 

  3. Shorten the length of your mustache like the pencil thin mustache, doing this may allow enough of the seal to actually do it.

  4. Make sure that your mask has a silicone skirt as it remains pliable in a wider temperature range than other materials. Masks using PVC will stiffen up in cooler temperatures which will affect their sealing capabilities.

  5. You may have heard people talk about putting petroleum jelly (like Vaseline) on the mustache, this is something that you do NOT want to do as it will interact with the silicone of the skirt and cause it to deteriorate. A product called Mask Seal is a food grade silicone that when applied to the mustache will help to create a better sealing surface for the skirt. The downside to the Mask Seal is that it can be a bit troublesome getting it out of the mustache, but with a little elbow grease, soap and water, you wont have a problem.

  6. If you have tried all of the above without success, your choices would be limited to dealing with water in your mask or just shave off your mustache.

These are just a few tips for you to try with the last two being the one's with the best success rates. With regard to the gentleman who came in the store.....he ended up shaving his off his mustache, but before you hate us, just a reminder that after his adventure in the water he grew his mustache back.