Scuba and Snorkeling Mask Buying Guide

Whether on a tropical vacation or exploring a private pool, the best way to see and understand the underwater world is through the right mask. Scuba and snorkeling masks come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Such masks vary in quality, and can fit a wide variety of budgets. Yet, the overall purpose of any scuba or snorkel mask is the same: to allow a clear view underwater.

There are masks that are designed with a simple clear plastic lens, and there are more complex prescription masks for those who wear glasses. Some masks allow a wider field of vision. Others decrease the amount of light allowed inside the mask, making it easier to take underwater photos. Simple masks cover only a diver’s eyes, while full-face dive masks offer more protection for cave diving, or deeper dives. There is a scuba or snorkel mask tailor made for just about every type of water activity imaginable. With a wealth of choices on the market today, shoppers should adequately research all of the available options before purchasing the best mask to meet their needs.


Diving masks are designed to cover a diver’s eyes and keep water from entering the field of vision. Typically, masks have clear lenses made from plastic or glass. The shape and size of the lens may vary depending on the mask’s intended purpose. While some lenses are a permanent part of the mask, others are replaceable in the event of a scratch or crack.

Plastic Lenses

Diving masks with plastic lenses are among the most affordable masks available. It is important, however, to keep in mind that these lenses are very easily scratched. To avoid common scrapes, keep the mask in its own bag or protective container, separate from other equipment. If scratches or cracks do occur, plastic lenses are easier to replace than a glass lens. Regardless of lens type, buyers should be careful when replacing a lens, as replacements can cost the same as a new mask.

Glass Lenses

Glass lenses cost more, but offer a clearer view and are less likely to be scratched. There are also polarized glass lenses that are designed to alter the amount of light allowed into the field of vision. Specialty lenses like this can be quite costly, but offer a crystal clear view.

Prescription Lenses

Typically, prescription lenses can be fitted into most masks that have a separate lens for each eye. They cost more than non-prescription lenses and come in three varieties: nearsighted lenses, farsighted lenses, and bifocals. The lens can be made to match the diver’s eyeglass prescription, allowing one to dive without the hassle of wearing glasses or contact lenses beneath the mask.

Panoramic Lenses

While most masks feature two lenses separated by a piece of the mask that covers the nose, there are masks designed to allow a wider view. Panoramic lenses feature one lens that extends across the entire field of vision. Typically, a panoramic mask has a design that allows light to enter from all sides of the mask. This increases the diver’s peripheral vision and maximizes the view.

Photography Masks

Underwater photographers need a particular type of mask. Their masks must allow them to see through their camera lens while snapping photos. Photographers also need to be able to see and operate other small photography equipment that would be harder to see when wearing a basic diving mask. Masks designed for underwater photography use special lenses that enhance clarity of vision. In addition, the portion of the mask that seals to the diver’s face is often made of black silicone. This material prevents light from coming in through the sides of the mask and minimizes any glare on the photographer’s line of sight.

Mask Fitting

Unfortunately, diving masks are not one size fits all. Since a good seal is necessary to prevent water from entering the mask, it is important to match the correct mask to the diver’s face shape and size. A proper fit is essential to a mask’s performance.


The skirting is the portion of the mask that seals to the diver’s face. Generally made from thin silicone, skirting is often the most easily damaged part of the mask. Damaged skirting can make a mask unusable. More expensive masks feature thicker silicone for increased comfort and a better seal. There are also different grades of silicone, such as crystal silicone, which is more comfortable than other types of silicone. Skirting also comes in a variety of colors, allowing for a degree of personalization for the diver.

Purge Masks

Purge masks feature nozzles, usually located at the bottom of the mask, that allow any water to be drained from the mask. The seal can be maintained and any water can be removed without having to remove the mask. Many purge masks have an exposed nose pocket that makes pressure equalization much easier. An exposed nose pocket lets divers exhale into the mask to equalize its air pressure or clear water from the mask. Purge masks also enable a diver to make adjustments without touching the lenses. The comfort and fit of the mask can be adjusted without obscuring the lens with fingerprints.

Full-Face Diving Masks

For the dedicated scuba diver, a more expensive full-face diving mask may be worth investigating. Full-face diving masks fit over the head and come with attachments that can accommodate standard regulators. This attachment will keep the air tub on the regulator from getting caught on algae or other underwater plants. When buying a full-face diving mask, it is important to find one that allows for easy removal. The mask should allow the diver to discharge any exhaust bubbles away from the field of view. Consumers can also find full-face diving masks that have an internal communications system that will allow divers to speak to one another.


Enjoy the diving experience by choosing a mask that comfortably fits your face and budget. Finding the right mask is easy when shopping with GetWetStore. Be sure to research the masks appropriate for your planned activities. Casual snorkelers will want a different type of mask than underwater photographers or scuba divers. With the right information, amateur and expert divers alike can find the right equipment on eBay for all underwater adventures.