A Scuba Woman-How to improve Dive Hair for Women Scuba Diving (easy hair care tips)

Are you a Medusa or a mermaid in the water? What to do with your hair when scuba diving? In this post, I share my top scuba diving hair tips, explaining what to do with your hair when scuba diving. Disheveled dive hair is something most women scuba diving with long hair experience. A tangled mess floating before your eyes, scuba diving with long hair can be a knotty problem. Fortunately, I have some scuba diving hair protection tips, tricks, and accessories to help combat dive hair and keep you looking like a mermaid.  Almost all women scuba divers will have experienced dive hair at some point in their scuba life.

Tips for dealing with long hair on a dive

As a scuba woman, my solution for dive hair is to keep my hair short. A senior scuba diver, I am more concerned with grey hair than dive hair. I wear my post-dive hair with pride. I know it’s been a good day scuba diving if my hair is sticking out in all directions! Scuba diving with longer hair than mine can be a nightmare, with hair wrapping around the first stage, getting caught in your BCD, or floating before you like a weird sea creature.  

{Disclaimer:- I may earn a small commission as an affiliate for some of the products mentioned. For others, I may not; these are businesses that I genuinely believe in, creating a good product while helping save our planet. Did you know Amazon requires their sellers to wrap products in plastic?}

I dedicate this post to Natalie, my sister and dive buddy. Natalie has long, fine, layered hair and often comes up from a dive looking more Medusa than mermaid. Natalie, little sis, these dive hair care tips are for you!

A women after a dive with messy dive hair  Empty Nest Diver

As a scuba woman, I understand the pain of dive hair. If I am doing a liveaboard or am constantly diving, I go to my hairdresser with the instructions “go short.”  For me, it’s fuss-free and easy. 

Perfect dive hair – that tangled Medusa mess is preventable. Like your skin, hair needs to be hydrated; the salt in the ocean will quickly suck out the moisture in your hair, leaving it dry and brittle. I have several simple tips for dealing with long hair when diving and hairstyles to prevent sticky, snarly, dehydrated dive hair.

What to do with your hair when scuba diving?

Recognizing hair is porous, drench your hair with fresh water before diving. Wetting hair with freshwater pre-dive lessens salt absorption. If freshwater is accessible, also rinse between dives to remove excess salt. Take an extra water bottle on the boat just for your hair. The salt in the ocean sticks to hair and pulls moisture out, making it tangle and feel like straw. Want more tips on what to do with your hair when scuba diving? Read on for more simple tips to prevent dive hair – Natalie, this means you.

Protect our hair – Protect our reefs

Freshwater alone will not prevent dive hair. We need to protect our hair follicles while being mindful of our delicate reef systems and protecting them. Any product we wear into the ocean must be biodegradable and reef safe.

My personal favorite is a leave-in conditioner by Stream2Sea. Stream2Sea has a great range of marine-friendly products. Founded by Autumn Blum to protect our vulnerable marine ecosystems. Stream2Sea products have been tested and proven safe for our reefs and sea critters, even coral larvae. In Australia, you can purchase Stream2Sea products through reefdiva.com.au. Consider using Stream2Sea in everyday life as well as diving. I use it at home as my regular conditioner, not just when diving. Chemical-free is good for us and our waterways.

As I am on my scuba journey of discovery, I am learning and growing. I have discovered many “reef safe” products may be biodegradable but still contain chemicals that harm our reefs. Always look at the back of the label. Stay away from products claiming to be “reef safe” if they have the ingredients oxybenzone, avobenzone, and octinoxate. These chemicals are noxious and will cause damage to corals and reef fish. I can recommend Stream2Sea without qualm.

Woman scuba diver overlooking water with tank on her back
A plaited bun will help stop hair movement

Before diving, comb hair, wet with fresh water, and apply a reef-safe conditioner to help prevent tangles and protect hair follicles. We want our locks to be lovely, healthy, and tangle-free without damaging our precious reef; as previously noted, I recommend Stream2Sea leave-in conditioner.  

For thicker, longer hair, coconut oil may work better. Organic coconut oil is biodegradable but doesn’t work for all hair types, so maybe test first. It is water repellent and acts as an excellent barrier to salt. I use coconut oil as a hair mask for a post-dive treat, making my hair soft and manageable.

Reapply products between dives to keep hair protected and tangle-free. A little spray bottle can be a quick and easy way of re-applying, ensuring smooth locks. Or simply squeeze conditioner into the palm of your hand and apply to hair.

Scuba women diving with long hair

In summary, we have hydrated our hair with fresh water and applied either coconut oil or my favorite go-to conditioner, Stream2Sea. Moisture or lack of moisture creates dive hair as does movement. Any scuba women diving with long hair need to reduce hair movement. Nobody wants to spend hours trying to comb out tangled hair after a dive.

What are the best hairstyles for diving?

Anyone with long hair needs a hairstyle to reduce movement. Listed below are the best hairstyles for women diving with long hair.

Dive Hair – Ponytails

A banded ponytail is a simple and effective way of preventing dive hair. Easy to do, a banded ponytail will help prevent hair breakage. Create either a high or low ponytail, leaving room for your mask strap.  Secure the ponytail every few centimeters with nonelastic ponytail holders.  Terra Ties are organic biodegradable hair ties ideal for creating a banded ponytail.

Terra Ties hair ties

A ponytail can also be tied into a high bun. Braiding your ponytail will lessen movement even more. Make two ponytails to help hold your mask strap in place. Start the first ponytail at your crown and the second about 10cm lower – viola, the perfect strap holder. Keep the ponytail tight; a loose ponytail moves around during a dive, causing your mask strap to slip and hair to knot. Remember to start with damp, conditioned hair.

Two scuba women on a boat looking forward
Empty Nest Diver
Medusas or Mermaids??

Dive hair – Braid

A braid is much more than a plait. It starts at the crown of your head and holds hair in place. Interweaving hair into a French braid is ideal for women divers with layered or long thick hair. A French braid keeps hair tucked in and in place. Wet hair with fresh water first, condition with a reef-safe conditioner (Stream2Sea), and braid while hair is still damp. A braid is an excellent style for keeping hard-to-manage dive hair in place all day.

To avoid hair breakage and snares, leave the braid in until you can rinse hair with fresh water and condition. A good tip is to spray the conditioner into the braid as you undo it, working upwards. See post-dive hair tips below.

Dive hair pigtails and plaits

Pigtails or plaits – are a simpler version of a braid; let’s face it, not everyone can manage a French braid. Do a soft part, zig zagged, or pull hair back to prevent a sunburnt scalp and begin the plait at either side of the nape of your neck.  Pigtails keep hair secure but don’t tangle as much as a French braid as they are undone. Treat a pigtail the same as a banded ponytail and add an extra band every few centimeters. Solé hair ties are eco-friendly, strong, and hold hair in place. They are 0% waste, plastic and metal-free, made with organic cotton to create biodegradable hair accessories better for your hair and the planet.

Diving hair accessories

Elastic-free hair ties as are a must have hair accessory for any scuba women diving with long hair.

Mask strap

Our mask straps are made of sticky silicone, catching our hair.  Hair movement makes the straps slip, weakening the seal of your mask, causing leaks. As a scuba woman, I have pulled out my share of hair when removing my mask. Purchase an inexpensive neoprene mask strap cover.  I made a neoprene mask strap part of my dive gear very early on, and my hair thanks me for it.  A neoprene mask strap cover slides across the silicone back strap of the mask. Instead of sticking to your hair, the mask strap simply slides on and off. No more tangles.

Fish scale mask strap covers
Shop Mask Straps

Many dive shops will have their logo on a mask strap cover – a nice souvenir of your favorite dive site or company.  They are inexpensive and make a massive difference to the health of your dive hair. Nudi Wear makes beautiful mask straps with marine designs.

Nudi Wear mask strap covers
Empty Nest Diver

Dive hair – bandana

A lot of my buddies wear a buff or bandana.  They are good two-fold.  Easy to put on and take off, keeping hair in place and out of eyes. Buffs stop the fine tiny hairs that escape getting caught in your mask frame.  They also offer sun protection on the boat, as you can bring the bandana down to cover your head, neck, and face. Wearing a bandana with one of the hairstyles above will definitely keep your hair in place and prevent dive hair.

We are lucky to have so many apparel companies advocating for our marine life. Waterlust is a fabulous small company making sun-safe hair masks from recycled plastics. Beautiful prints inspired by nature, Waterlusts’ sun masks are versatile, holding hair back while offering brilliant sun protection. The sun masks are ideal for someone like me with a fringe. Waterlust was established to help fund research, educate the world about environmental conservation, and create ethical, eco-friendly, fashionable products.

Waterlust also makes scrunchies from fabric leftover from their leggings. A fashionable, responsible way to keep dive hair tied back.

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Headbands are perfect for keeping hair back off your face and out of your eyes. A headband is an excellent solution for fringes or hiding my grey hairs. I am paranoid about stray hairs getting stuck in my mask, causing leaks. Headbands can also be a good form of sun protection, as they are comfortable to wear in and out of the water.

Nudi Wear has a selection of headbands made from recycled plastic bottles. They have four cool designs based on marine animals with matching mask straps and apparel. They are another small company doing great work for our marine environment, recycling plastics and donating 10% of their profits to ocean conservation.

Dive hair – hood

A hood is a good option. It will protect hair from the ocean and keep it in place, preventing breakage. It has the added bonus of keeping you warm if you are diving in a cooler climate.  

We were on a liveaboard recently and admired a couple girls who were wearing cute little cat hoods. Have some fun with these adorable hoods that are thin neoprene for warmer climates. Many come with chin straps, giving the option of putting them over your mask strap or under. 

Shop Kitty Hoods

As a scuba woman I always like to stand out in the water, and these hoods will undoubtedly let you do that.  My son bought me a Nemo hood, but he has a tail where the mask strap sits, so it tends to make my mask leak.  I still wear it – more to embarrass Josh than to protect my hair.

Long hair can be held in place by a hood. Do a hairstyle that suits and secure it with the hood.  A hood is a great option for keeping hair in place and away from your mask.

A hood keeps hair in place

Post Dive Hair Care Tips

Rinse hair with fresh water first and apply conditioner to hair, working in sections as hair is undone. Condition as you work up the braid to keep hair smooth. Once braids are undone, apply more conditioner and massage into your scalp. Rinse with fresh water again. Shampoo and condition as normal. If you have time, treat yourself to a hair mask. It is better for your hair if it can air dry naturally. Use a tangle teaser hairbrush or large-toothed comb to avoid snags.

Follow these scuba diving hair care tips for dive hair and go from Medusa to mermaid in no time. If you have any great hair care tips for women scuba diving, please leave them in the comments below.

It’s never too late – TAKE THE DIVE WITH TANYA

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Published by emptynestdiver

Learning to dive in my fifties has been a great adventure, I am a senior scuba diver but young at heart.

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