Diver’s Buying Guide: Full Face Snorkel Mask

scuba diver with the shark

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A snorkel mask allows you to enjoy your time underwater and see the incredible world around you. However, you don’t want to just go with the snorkel masks offered by swimming locations you’ll be visiting on your vacation. Instead, you need time to go through the different full face snorkel mask options to find what works best for you.

There are several features you need to keep in mind when shopping around for a full face snorkel mask. When you consider the different features and shop for the right mask, you’ll feel more comfortable when you swim with it on, and it will provide you with a secure fit and cut down on leaking or fogging. But before you shop or pick up the first mask you find, here are several tips and suggestions for how to pick out the best full face snorkel mask for your needs.

What Is a Full Face Snorkel Mask?

There are several snorkel mask options. Some snorkel masks will cover your eyes and still others cover your nose and your eyes. You can cover your entire face with a full face snorkel mask. This means it covers not just your eyes and nose but also your mouth. If you are worried about taking in water through your mouth, or just feel more comfortable covering your entire face, this is the way to go.

full face snorkeling mask

With a full face snorkel mask you can go swimming just about anywhere. You can take it with you on vacation to tropical locations. You can also use it in lakes by your home or even in swimming pools. Wherever you go, it’s always great to have a personal snorkel mask. You never know when it might come in handy. Before you pick out the right snorkel mask, keep in mind the different features as not all full snorkel masks will work for you.

Why Choose a Full Face Snorkel Mask?

There are all kinds of snorkel options out there. It’s always important to go with a mask that feels comfortable to you. For some, this might be a full face snorkel mask. Choose a full face snorkel mask if you don’t like holding onto a breathing tube in your mouth when exposed to the water. If you struggle to keep it in your mouth, it feels uncomfortable or you breathe in air while using the simpler designs you might want to consider the full face option.

full face snorkeling mask with varying colors

If you’re swimming in a cooler water location and you want to keep your face warmer, you can use a full face design. This will help maintain the body heat temperature around your face better than a smaller, more exposed mask. Ultimately it is a preference, so you need to know what to look for and what design will work best for you and your swimming needs.

How to Use a Full Face Snorkel Mask

Using a full face snorkel mask is easy. You need to first make sure you pick out a mask that allows you to take full advantage of the design features, but if you have the right fit you’ll enjoy a host of benefits.


man underwater with full face snorkeling mask

The vast majority of masks will provide you with a curved display. This is far superior to the flat displays you’ll find on eye and nose masks. Some full face snorkel masks may have a boxy design, but you’ll be better off getting a curved display. The curved display is better because it gives you a wider field of view of up to 180 degrees. You won’t have plastic sides interfering with your visibility, plus you will see more while you’re under water. If you want to see under water, chances are there’s a reason. So invest in a mask that gives you this curved display. It will also make it easier to swim as the water will roll past your curved mask.

Natural Breathing

This is one of the major reasons you will want to pick out a full snorkel mask. It’s easier to use and more comfortable than having a plastic tube shoved into your mouth. With the full face snorkel design, the air tube will enter a compartment near the location of your mouth. This is separate from where your eyes are so the mask will not become blurry or fogged. However, unlike the tube design you have nothing directly in your mouth.

The air flows into the pocket around your mouth and chin so you won’t have to wrap your mouth around this kind of plastic tube. You will not have to use your mouth to control a tube because the snorkel tube comes out the rear of the mask. If you are someone you know has struggled with using a snorkel tube in your masks in the past, then this is a welcome feature that will make swimming easier.

Before Putting On the Mask

how to use the mask properly

Preparing the Mask

Before putting on the mask you will want to make sure the glass doesn’t fog. These masks are better at avoiding the foggy appearance in a mask you might find with the flat displays, but you still need to do what you can to prevent fogging even further. One of the best ways to do this is to invest in an anti-fog applicant. This is a liquid you’ll rub into the plastic display.

It works in a similar way to the car window wash that prevents rain from sticking to the window. Don’t use the car window solution on your mask, though, because though it works in a similar way, it won’t be good for your mask or for you. Once you’ve applied the anti-fog, avoid taking off the mask.

Putting it On

Before going into the water, place the mask around your face and adjust the straps. You want a secure fit. There will probably be a padded area around the nose so if the half-face designs pinch your nose this should be a much more comfortable design. You will still need a secure fit. Unlike the other designs this mask will not have a single plastic band. It will have a band that crosses in the back of your head. This cross will offer a more secure fit to your head and will feel more comfortable. Just tighten the mask using the adjustable straps.

We recommend that you wet your face before placing the mask on for a proper fit. If you have long hair, you will probably have fly away hairs tucked into the mask, depending on the size of the mask. These hairs can interfere with visibility if you don’t take the time to move them. By wetting your face and your hair you can tuck the hair around your ears and easily move the hair out of the way before putting the mask on.

Using the Mask

Position the mask onto your face. Now, move underwater. With this kind of design you likely cannot dive into the water but must submerge gently. Depending on the mask you have, the air intake valve will either be located on the side of the mask directed upward or on the top of your head. You will breathe out of the mask as you would normally. However, if your tube is under water you will not be able to breathe in. Most masks will not pull in water through the tube, although when you exhale air bubbles will displace out of the side vents of the mask. The tube at the top of the mask will bring in air you can breathe.

Sometimes the mask will have a purge valve. This purge mask will force water out of the mask if it should pool in. This way you need not take the mask off to drain out the water. This design feature will vary from one mask to the next. One reason you need to check out different full face masks is because these features will vary often substantially. You want a design that not only fits your head but feels comfortable in your hands.


When choosing the perfect full face snorkel mask, you need to know what to look for and how to pick out the best mask for your personal needs. By keeping these tips and suggestions in mind, you’ll have a better idea of what to look for, what makes a better mask, and how you should select the right mask for your preferences.

Whatever you do, just know you’ll always be better off shopping around for a personal mask instead of using whatever is available at your diving or swimming location. These masks will almost always be more expensive than inferior products that may not even fit you (or you’ll be forced to fiddle with it throughout your time in the water). So avoid the headache and hassle by going with your own full face snorkel mask. Putting these tips to use will provide you with a more enjoyable underwater experience.

Jack Thompson

Jack Thompson, a scuba diving enthusiast from San Diego, has spent over a decade exploring the underwater world across the globe. Sharing his passion through captivating stories and informative articles, Jack aims to inspire others to embark on their own scuba diving adventures and uncover the ocean's hidden treasures. Follow Jack on Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit, and Facebook or email him at Jack@diving-info.com

One thought on “Diver’s Buying Guide: Full Face Snorkel Mask

  1. First question you need to ask yourself is; Do I want to dive down during snorkeling? If the answer is yes, don’t buy a full face snorkel mask. The mask covers your whole face which makes it difficult to equalize using the ‘pinch your nose’ method. Some people can equalize by swallowing or wiggling there yaw but most of us need some training to be able to do this. Another big drawback when diving down is the fact that a snorkel mask has a large volume. The pocket of air is located on your head which makes diving down head first hard. If you overcome this the air in the mask will shrink creating a squeeze which requires a lot of breathing in the mask to equalize it.

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