Choosing a Diving or Snorkelling Mask

Choosing a Diving or Snorkelling Mask

Despite what you may have heard it is extremely easy to choose and purchase scuba diving and snorkelling masks without the need to try one on. While for many it may still seem a huge leap of faith but today’s modern materials ensure the vast majority of masks will suit, the vast majority of face shapes/sizes, the vast majority of the time. It then more often comes down to personal choice/preferences.  Of course there can be exceptions to every rule and a moustache/beard or deep ‘character’ lines particularly around the eyes/upper lip area, may play a part on the effectiveness of the seal but on the whole masks produced with quality silicone will ‘seal’ on the skin virtually every time. Opting for a leading brand specialising in scuba diving/snorkelling gear should ensure the build quality, superior dive quality silicone mask and superior design elements. 

As one would expect those masks at the higher end of the price range will have the research and development, innovative features, quality materials, design elements and longevity one would expect.

Masks are predominantly designed along the lines of one size fits all (adults) and of course, masks for youngsters.  In more recent years, some of the larger manufacturers, have produced a slightly smaller skirted version of one or two of their most popular selling masks to appeal to an increasing number of users, smaller adults and teenagers. Colour choices have also expanded to reflect this growing market.

Twin lens masks have a left and right lens, or Single Lens, one single piece of glass across the front of the mask – purely personal choice.  For snorkellers with larger or previously broken noses the single lens design may be preferable.  ‘Off the shelf’ prescription lenses are available from some manufacturers for their ‘twin lens’ masks although depending on your prescription requirements you may need ‘made to measure’ lenses and twin lens masks are generally considered better for this.

Once you’ve received your new mask, to try the mask for fit and the effectiveness of the seal, stand in front of a mirror so you can see what you are doing.  You don’t need to use the strap, simply place the mask on to the face, you should not need to wrestle it in to position, the mask should rest comfortably on the skin.  The silicone skirt of the mask should seal against your skin – the mask skirt won’t seal on your hair.  Make sure you’ve enclosed your nose and that the silicone skirt should seal just under your nose and not on the top of your lip !!

Once in position simply ‘sniff’, as if you have a cold, and hold. By ‘sniffing’ the air out you create a vacuum and the mask should stay in position and seal onto the skin, until you exhale.  Be ready to catch the mask if it falls off.

If you can continuously ‘sniff’ air in or hear air rushing in then it’s not sealing effectively.  If this happens it can simply be the very slight differences in the way you approach putting on the mask that can make the difference of obtaining that initial seal. Check if you have the mask in position properly and that the silicone skirt of the mask is flat against the skin and repeat this process. 

At, over the last 35+ years we’ve sold thousands (yes, thousands) of snorkelling and diving masks online from many of the most sought after manufacturers as well as producing our own range of snorkelling gear aimed at the travelling snorkellers.  Our selection of snorkelling sets available to buy online are based on our most popular selling masks, snorkels and fins and our dive team are confident that these masks will seal and be comfortable for virtually every travelling snorkeller or diver.

If you’re not sure what you’re looking for to begin your Undersea Adventures, why not put our 35+ years of diving and snorkelling knowledge & experience to the test, reach out by e-mail or phone for any help and advice

Mares Pure Wire Mask Wide Vision Single Lens

Cressi Big Eyes Evolution Mask Twin Lens




The majority of snorkels on the market today include a purge valve and have tops designed to either deflect water, ‘semi-dry’, or some now have ‘dry’ tops.

A purge valve is a simple system but makes clearing water from your snorkel that bit easier.  The purge valve is usually positioned at the lowest end/bottom of the snorkel.  There is a disc of silicone positioned externally that remains closed by the water pressure exerted on it, but by exhaling this is usually enough to force this disc open and so ‘purging’ the snorkel of any excess water.  Put simply you don’t need to have a lung full of air to force water out the top of the tube.  The best snorkels should always have a good quality silicone mouthpiece, some orthodontically designed to ensure a comfortable ‘bite’