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  • Kelly Carpenter

Dive Hair? Don’t Care!




Have you ever just come up from a dive, hyped from the experience and feeling like James Bond exiting the water…only to look in a mirror and find your hair is a hot mess that takes ages to untangle?


Do knot worry, we’ve been just dyeing to get to the root of this problem. We’ve combed through our experiences to fix this hairy situation so you don’t have to dread your next dive. Of coarse there are many layers to this hair-larious subject, so don’t brush us off. Just curl up and let us help - we’ve done our part and prep-haired our best tips and tricks so you and your locks can live in peace and hair-mony!


All jokes aside, here at Divetech we frequently get asked about dive-hair care and it is also something many of us went through when we first started diving. Divers around the world have struggled to keep their luxurious locks healthy and tangle-free, and the subject has been covered before by well-known dive blogs like PADI and Girls That Scuba. Here’s our take on the matter, including what we do with our hair in the water, products we like, and more! (And if you don’t have hair, we’ve got a special section just for you).


SO WHY DOES MY HAIR LOOK LIKE A RAT NEST AFTER DIVING


Before we begin, let’s take a look at what happens to our hair when we dive in our beautiful blue oceans. Salt water strips our hair and scalp of oils, and causes hair cuticles (the protective outer part of a strand of hair) to lift. This means our hair starts to lose moisture, which causes frizz and breakage as the strands dry out. Salt water can also leave a residue in our hair, and while small amounts can create some sexy beachy waves, too much residue can make your hair stick together in some rather unfortunate looking tangles and clumps.


THE BARE MINIMUM


The most important (and easiest!) way to care for your hair is a fresh water rinse right before and after diving. Predive, a rinse will saturate your hair with fresh water and help strands absorb less salt water during your dive. Postdive, rinsing will clean the salt water and residue out of your hair, allowing your hair to retain more moisture. You’ll find many dive shops and centers have a freshwater shower on-site, please take advantage of it! Your hair will thank you.


Nothing better than a freshwater rinse to keep your hair (and face) happy and healthy


HAIR-DO’S


One of the best ways to help your hair stay healthy is protecting it while you’re in the water, and tying back your hair should become a regular part of your pre-dive routine. You might think leaving your hair loose and free in the water will make you look like the Little Mermaid, but I can tell you from experience you’ll a) look ridiculous b) end up spending your dive shoving hair out of your face and making the knots worse, and c) possibly even getting your hair so tangled in your BCD and regs that you’ll have to rip or cut your hair free…yes this can sometimes actually happen and I’m cringing just thinking about it.


It might take some trial and error to find what works best for you personally. Here are some styles that work well for many divers, including some of us!


  • Ponytail(s). High or low, you do you! This is good for short to medium hair and is super quick and easy to tie up and take out. Just make sure you tie your hair above, under, or even through your mask strap.

  • Bubble ponytail(s). Great for longer hair. Just use multiple ponytail holders spaced out along your hair and you’re good to go! For me, I prefer starting with a low ponytail as it fits snugly under my hooded vest without getting in the way of my mask strap.

  • Braid(s). Good for thicker, shoulder-length to long hair. There are so many different options to braid hair, whether you prefer 1 or 2 braids, french braids or classic, and more. The key is to make the braids tight enough to stay secure during your dive.

  • Bun(s). Good for medium to long hair. Messy buns can work but I prefer to twist my hair together as I put it into a bun so it’s easier to take out after the dive, just make sure to snugly secure it in place. You can do 1 or 2 buns, high or low.

Jo wears her hair in a low ponytail while Kelly uses a low bubble pony to fit under her hooded vest


ACCESSORIZING IS KEY


There are so many different accessories out there that can help manage your hair while diving! Here’s some of our favorites:


  • Ponytail holders! It might seem super obvious, but these are your first line of defense against crazy tangles. Make sure to choose hair bands that will stay in place throughout the dive - if it won’t hold your hair secure while working out or playing sports, it definitely won’t be effective underwater. This is also an important environmental consideration - we don’t want to be littering the ocean with heaps of hair ties that keep falling off in the water.

  • Mask Strap Covers. Personally, I think mask strap covers are incredibly fun AND the most important item you can buy for your hair, because they help your mask slide over your head without catching and breaking hair. (This is true for people with super short hair too!) There are different styles of mask strap covers out there, I prefer ones that slide over the strap as I find velcro mask straps end up catching and tangling in your hair anyway.

  • Headbands and Buffs - These thin pieces of fabric are a favorite of many divers. Wear them over your hair (and under your mask strap), they’re even great for divers with short hair or locs, and also keep those pesky fly-aways in check. When choosing yours, make sure it fits snugly over your head otherwise it will slide off and not work in the water. Don’t forget to keep the fabric away from your mask seal so it doesn’t cause your mask to leak!

  • Hoods and Hooded Vests - Not just for cold water diving! Hoods and hooded vests fit snugly around your head, meaning they automatically help keep your hair in place without having to fiddle around with your hairstyle in the water. I can’t stress enough how much easier my life got once I started diving in a hood, I got to be warm and not spend entire boat journeys brushing out all the knots in my hair!

Kelly is rocking a headband AND a mask strap, while Raggy uses his buff to keep his long locs in place


PRODUCTS WE LOVE


There’s more hair-care products available out there than I can even begin to mention, but here’s a short list of some favorites. Just keep in mind to make sure any leave-in conditioners, oils, and sprays used are all reef-safe. The ocean will thank you!


  • Stream2Sea. Hands down the best brand of reef-safe products on the market, including sunscreens. I can’t speak highly enough about their products, and their leave-in conditioner is straight up magic. After you rinse your hair after diving, apply a small amount and comb through your hair (all of their formulas are concentrated, so a little bit goes a long way!). For those with extra tangly locks, you can also apply it before diving to help protect your hair and keep it moisturized! 

  • Argan oil and coconut oil. Natural oils can be a life-saver for hair! These oils are naturally reef-safe and should be used on dry hair to avoid trapping moisture inside the strands. 

  • Redken leave-in conditioning spray. Jo calls this her Magic Hair Spray. Detangles and leaves hair soft and shiny until rinsed out in the shower, plus it’s designed to help prevent hair breakage. 

  • Honest brand conditioning detangler. This stuff rocks. I like to use the spray right after a freshwater rinse and then comb through the tangles - it works amazingly well with different hair types too. It’s not reef-safe so I only use it when I know I’ll be washing it out before my next dive.


WHEN IN DOUBT, BRUSH IT OUT


And of course, no hair-care routine would be complete without the perfect tool to smooth out those gnarly knots. Whether your hair is fine or thick, curly or straight, a solid brush or comb will make all the difference.


  • Wet Brush. With 60,000+ reviews on Amazon, this is a wildly popular gentle brush for all hair types. Also good to use on dry hair! 

  • Tangle Teezer. Small, palm-sized, gentle and easy. What more could you ask for?

  • Diane brush. My hair stylist recommended this brush to me a couple years ago and I’m not joking when I say it’s literally changed my life. I LOVE this brush, I mostly use it on wet hair with a leave-in conditioner and it obliterates tangles with ease. 

  • Wide tooth comb. A classic for a reason. Works for all hair lengths, textures and types to help combat the knots. Wide teeth are perfect for detangling those post-dive knots and the teeth are strong enough not to break, unlike those pesky fine-tooth combs.

The Diane brush aka the most amazing brush in the entire universe


NO HAIR? WHO CARES!


Whether your hair is buzzed, thin, or fully shaved, I’ve got you covered (literally)! While you may not be emerging from the water with hair looking like a wet mop, there is a high chance you end up with a nice scalp sunburn - complete with epic mask strap tan. Not a great look for family vacation pictures! Here are a few ways to better manage the burn:


  • Sunscreen! And lots of it. Obviously reef-safe sunscreen brands like Stream2Sea are best, and make sure to fully apply at least 30 minutes before your dive so it doesn’t all wash away in the water. And don’t forget to reapply once you dry off after diving!

  • Buffs and Do-rags. Good for heads, not just hair! Most are a thin material that can help block the sun and protect your scalp. Some even offer UV protection, an added bonus in the blistering Caribbean sun. Just make sure to wear them under your mask strap, which helps hold them in place.

  • Dive Hats or Hoods. Not just for warmth! Many brands from Fourth Element to ScubaPro offer head protection options. While many hats and hoods also help you stay warm in cooler waters, there are also thinner materials available that can offer that glorious sun protection without causing you to overheat.

  • Fishing/Outdoor Hats. If you’ll be spending a lot of time at the surface, whether on a boat, during a dive course, or just out snorkeling, the simplest option might just be a plain old fishing hat! These wide-brimmed hats are lightweight and perfect to pop in and out of BCD pockets, plus they are often made of UV resistant material. You can wear it at the surface and tuck it away when not in use, just don’t try to wear one underwater - your bubbles can be enough for it to float away!

Sami uses a dive beanie while Ted prefers a do-rag to protect their sensitive scalps from the sun

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