Mask Colours

“Will this mask fit me?”, “What’s the difference between the shapes?” and “Reflective lenses make a difference how?” are all questions I get asked on a near daily basis. All of these are important in choosing a mask, but what matters more than people realize is the colour/transparency of the mask you are choosing. From underwater style to sunstrike, today I am discussing just how important the colour of your mask really is, and how it affects your dive.


Be visible, be recognisable, and survive the dive. There’s a few dives I’ve been on where everyone has the same colour everything and it gets incredibly confusing. Switching buddy teams without realising and not knowing who’s who can lead to a dangerous situation underwater. This problem is fixed with a distinctively coloured mask. Bright orange or hot pink may not be your exact style that you’re going for, but I can promise you that every single diver on the boat will see the mask and instantly recognise it as you. As an added bonus, the hot pink mask may stop your mates from pinching it at the dive site.


When I’m talking to someone who’s considering buying a mask for a snorkeling getaway, I attempt to veer them away from the masks with transparent sides. Although these are great for scuba, and eliminates that “claustrophobic” feeling some individuals experience while wearing a mask, I do not recommend for snorkeling, especially in the tropics. The reason for this is a sort of “sunstrike”. While laying on the surface looking down, the bright sun hits the transparent side of your mask, goes straight through, then reflects off the inside of the mask directly into your eyeballs. Not very pleasant to say the least. To put it technically, extraneous light entering through the clear skirt makes it more difficult for the eye to focus and causes reflections that obscure vision. You can demonstrate this by looking through a window at night time with your indoor lights on. You’ll see better by cupping your hands around your eyes and pressing your face up to the glass, rather than the reflection you normally see when you just look. Brightly coloured glossy transparent frames can also cause annoying colour halos around the lenses.


Choosing a mask with black/not clear sides provides a better tunnel vision while diving. This is a bit of a positive and a negative, however. The darker sides are often favored by hunters/freedivers. It gives you a clear view of your target, and you have nothing flashing in your peripheral vision to distract you. Although, for casual scuba sightseers, the dark sides do mean you lose a bit of your field of view.

Overall, I always go with the saying; “a good mask makes a good dive”. Because when you really think about it, it’s one of, if not the, most vital piece of diving gear. You need to be able to see!

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