a female with long hair snorkeling

How Do Girls Manage Their Hair When Snorkeling and Scuba Diving?

If you’re lucky enough to be blessed with long, elegant locks then when you are snorkeling, one consideration needs to be – what do you actually do with your hair!?

You may think it is a superficial query, but as our crowning glory, special consideration when partaking in scuba diving for women’s hair is a serious issue. Not only for aesthetic reasons, but also for safety and to keep your hair healthy!

Dive Hair Don’t Care!

So I live near to the coast (about a 5 minute walk from the beautiful Caribbean Sea) so I’m in the salty turquoise deep several times per week, either snorkelling, diving, paddle boarding or swimming. And all of this saltiness definitely has an impact on the condition of my hair.

I visited my hairdresser for my trim after a year of being beside the coast (she’s back in the UK, and I am untrusting with new people and my hair!) To say she was mortified with the condition of my hair would be a complete understatement. 

It was so broken and sun damaged. It had visibly shrivelled and frazzled with the combination of the sun and salt water.

Strands of hair that were once long and strong were now broken, with some almost tufts and ‘layers’ that definitely were not supposed to be there.

This gave me a huge wake-up call and inspired me to really think about my scuba diving hair care routine. 

She gave me a great piece of advice: Our hair is porous. It absorbs the first moisture it comes into contact with. So if you are going to be swimming frequently in salt water, wet your hair first with fresh water before entering. This will ensure minimal damage from salt.

In this article, I’m going to share with you the tips and tricks I use to keep my hair gloriously bouncy and healthy!

a female with long hair scuba diving

Say “No!” To Loose Long Hair When Scuba Diving Or Snorkeling!

So firstly, as any woman who has ever snorkelled before can tell you, although you may feel like a mermaid, having loose mermaid flowing hair is just a no when it comes to being in the water. 

You aren’t going to get that same mermaid style flow from Disney movies (unfortunately!).

Plus loose flowing hair is a hazard for so many reasons: it will get caught in the mask strap (or maybe even around the first stage of a scuba set-up), and when you’re down under the beautiful blue, you want to see the amazing marine life around you, and not have it obscured with pesky hair in your face!

How to Style Long Hair For Scuba Diving Or Snorkeling

From discussions with most female snorkelers and scuba divers, the general consensus for how to keep hair out of the face while scuba diving is a French/Dutch braid (or two!). 

Having braided hair allows for it to stay securely away from your face and is compact enough to your head that your mask strap can slide on easily.

No-one is saying that braids need to be perfect, a plait will also do. For those that aren’t hair inclined – a braid is a where you start at the top of the head and include hair as you move down the hair in a plait that is tightly secured to the scalp, whereas a plait will begin at the nape of the neck and just include the hair from below that point. Obviously a braid will be more secure and won’t become as messy as you remove and replace your mask.

Other suggestions include a low pony-tail, so that you can wear your mask easily on your head. 

Often divers also tie extra hair bands along the length of the pony-tail to keep it extra secure.

Other snorkelers also consider a bun, worn either on the very top of the head, so that the mask strap falls under it, or low against the neck.

Basically, any secure style will work!

a female with long hair snorkeling over corals

Wear a Buff – Underrated Scuba Diving Hair Accessories

If you aren’t as nimbly-fingered to give yourself braids, or maybe your hair isn’t long enough, consider wearing a buff, a kind of scuba diving hair wrap, when taking to the water.

A buff is a multi-purpose piece of apparel, which is a thin fabric tube. Not only is it great for wearing around your head to keep your hair under control, but they are also great for pre-dive when you’re on a boat to stop the sun and splashes on your face, but wearing it around your lower part of your face.

There are a ton of varieties available in different colors too (I own a cute whale shark skin patterned one for when I am in the ocean!)

Have a Mask Strap Cover

A trick I *wish* I’d been told earlier in my dive career is how good a mask strap actually is! I had previously always thought that were a novelty for newer divers or those that are easily tempted into buying souvenirs on a dive trip. But seriously. Get one.

A mask strap cover is a neoprene casing that slips over the silicone strap that goes around your head. They’re pretty cheap and easy to fit to almost all mask styles.  

Whether you are a snorkelling or scuba diving with long hair, having a cover will be a game changer. Gone are those pulls where the silicone snags against the hair strands, and I found I had far less hair breakage when using a strap on my mask (so much so, that I won’t dive without one now!)

a snorkeler in shallow water over corals

Scuba Diving Hair Protection Products

To keep your hair in great condition you need to use products too. I always use a shampoo and conditioner that is designed for dry and brittle hair, and regularly use a hair mask for a deep conditioning treatment.

On dive days it’s also important to nourish your hair, but keep the reef safe from excess chemicals that are within commercial hair products. 

So I use my favourite natural diving hair product – natural coconut oil! I swear by it! I apply some to my hair as part of my ‘pre-dive’ hair routine, and keep some handy in my bag for straight after the dive.

As it is natural, it is better for the reef than other leave-in conditioners, and it leaves my hair smelling great! But a word of warning, if it’s a super scorching day, wear a buff to protect your head with oil on, as it can frazzle and ‘cook’ under the scorching sun!

a female makes the OK hand signal

My Dive Day Hair Routine

My pre-dive hair routine combines the tricks I’ve told you already.

I start with freshly combed hair and apply a solution of water and a generous ‘glob’ of coconut oil conditioning treatment and rub it through my hair until it is entirely covered and damp.

I then braid the damp hair (which actually can make braiding easier!) into two braids, which stay firm  on my head all day.

During the day, I wear my mask that has a strap cover on, but when the dives are over and my gear is packed away, I think about my hair again.

In my dive boat bag I have a tangle teaser hair brush and a small pump bottle of my coconut oil conditioning lotion. On the boat ride back to shore I undo my hair and brush through the loose tendrils, and apply another generous helping of the conditioner.

Since I’ve made these priorities for my hair during my dives, it has continued to grow healthily and the good condition has returned. I also make sure I use a generally good repairing shampoo and conditioner during my normal hair washing routines too!

Some may think that I’m a bit of a princess during dives for this, but for me, and my hair – it’s totally worth it!

Laura Michelle
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I am a Divemaster and have been diving for 5 years. I currently live in Playa del Carmen and love the range of ocean and cenote diving I can enjoy here. My favourite animals to see on a dive are spotted eagle rays, and my diving dream would be to see orcas or great white sharks!

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