How Do Full Face Masks Work?

How Do Full Face Masks Work?

Full-face masks are pretty awesome! Having a mask sealed from your chin to your forehead, allows you to breathe more naturally and comfortably through both your mouth and nose.

Scuba diving has been a popular activity for a while, yet full-face masks have only recently increased in attractiveness! Divers who have only Scuba dived with a mask and regulator are likely to be wondering, how do full face masks work? 

In this article we will discuss:

  • What A Full Face Mask Is
  • How Do Full Face Masks Work?
  • Learning How To Use A Full-Face Mask
  • Why Use A Full Face Mask?
  • Considering A Full Face Mask

Let’s dive in!

What Is A Full Face Mask?

A full-face mask is exactly what you’re thinking. It is a Scuba Diving mask, which covers your whole face, allowing you to breathe through both your nose and mouth while underwater. The regulator providing air is connected to the mask, with enough air space for a good field of vision! 

Full-face masks look pretty awesome! Unfortunately, however, they are not on the list of the cheapest Scuba diving equipment!

Full-face masks are an investment, but after this article, you might decide that it is worth it!

There are many benefits of using this type of mask, but if you have learnt Scuba Diving with a traditional mask and regulator, you might find yourself very intrigued with how these masks function!

So, how does a full-face mask work?

How Do They Work?

Full-face masks have a seal around the entire face, with air provided via a regulator. Space within the mask allows a great field of vision and can even allow the diver to talk! Breathing with a full face mask is a lot different to a traditional mask and regulator!

Traditional regulators are held in your mouth with a mouthpiece. With a full-face mask, this is no longer required! There is a direct connection between the full face mask and the second stage, removing the need for a mouthpiece. 

A regulator is constantly fixed with the full face mask, which you attach the regulator hose to a connection point on the outside of the mask. By doing this, you can easily switch between a traditional regulator and a full face mask. 

One advantage of this easy connection is safety. When diving with a full face mask, you should have a spare mask and regulator, which you can switch to in case of an incident underwater. 

Another benefit is you can use the same first and second stage, switching between a full face mask and traditional regulator depending on which one you would like to use for that dive. 

While wearing a full face mask, the Scuba Diver can breathe normally through their mouth and nose. Air is pulled into the mask during inhalation just like a breath through a traditional regulator, and the exhale is expelled the same.

While wearing a full-face mask, you cannot pinch your nose as you usually do to equalise. The Full-face mask, therefore, has a special equalising assembly. As you descend and need to equalise, you push on the base of the regulator which blocks your nostrils as you blow. 

If there is no mouthpiece in your mouth, this might make you wonder if you can talk underwater? Yes, you can! 

As you breathe within your mask normally, you can smile, laugh and even sing! Of course, your voice will be muffled due to the water, but your dive buddies will be able to pick up on what you are saying! (Or singing!)

The Ocean Reef Neptune mask has a built-in communication device, which connects you with other divers, allowing you to verbally communicate with one another!

When diving with a traditional mask, it is customary to spit in it, give it a good rub, and then rinse it off! This incredible trick stops your mask from fogging up during your dive!

You might be wondering, do you need to spit in a full-face mask? No! One of the incredible things about full-face masks is that they do not fog up! The direction of airflow within the mask prevents fog from forming on the inside of the mask.

A full-face mask looks cool and has many benefits over a traditional mask. Let’s have a look at a few reasons why divers use a full-face mask!

Learning How To Use A Full-Face Mask

Full-face mask speciality courses are available to teach you how to use a full-face mask properly and safely! Although it is not mandatory to have this training, it is highly recommended to learn how to use new equipment before going on a dive!

Unlike Scuba diving itself, where you cannot teach yourself how to Scuba dive, you do not require a certification to use a full-face mask. However, when using new equipment, it is hugely beneficial to complete a course before taking it underwater! 

PADI offers the Full-face Mask Diver course, teaching students about the different features and components of the hugely varying mask types. Students then go through techniques to prepare, use and maintain the full-face mask.

The Full-face mask diver course is also a great course to complete as it improves your ability to make underwater adjustments and respond to emergencies. Having these skills are important to make sure you can dive comfortably and safely!

Why Use A Full-Face Mask?

Benefits of a full-face mask include comfort, no fogging, extra insulation during cold water dives, improved field of vision and even being able to speak underwater! These are some of the many benefits why divers prefer diving with a full-face mask.

Comfort is improved by a full-face over a traditional mask. The air flows into the mask through a regulator, which you can inhale and exhale with both your mouth and nose.

Divers can find full-face masks more comfortable, as it is how we naturally breathe on the surface. 

It is difficult for some divers to only breathe through their mouths when using a regulator and mouthpiece. After all, it is not a natural feeling to breathe underwater! Exhaling slightly through their nose will release bubbles from a divers mask, and the moist air can cause their mask to fog! 

As mentioned above, full-face masks have a directional flow of air that prevents the mask from fogging up! Fogging masks can be incredibly frustrating, having to constantly clean them! 

When we enter cool waters, the water on the outside of the mask is at cooler temperatures than the inside, causing condensation on the inside! Spitting in your mask before helps prevent the build-up of condensation. 

Full-face masks do not experience this, do not require spitting in and increase comfort and experience! Due to water not entering the full-face mask, it is a lot easier to Scuba dive with contact lenses! Water is unlikely to enter the mask or your eyes, avoiding irritation or losing your contact lenses. 

Another benefit of breathing through both your mouth and nose is that divers are less likely to suffer from a sore throat. The exhaled air warms the space within the mask, removing some harshness of the coal inhalation!

Full-face masks have crystal clear plastic, allowing more light to penetrate than glass, improving the diver’s field of vision! Divers have reported full-face masks providing a better view underwater, clearer and more vibrant than any other mask! It is like Scuba diving in High Definition!

Having your whole face sealed within a full-face mask, from your chin to your forehead, can be very beneficial during cold water diving. This pocket of air adds another layer of insulation, separating your face from the cold water!

Having your face surrounded by a pocket of air and no mouthpiece between your teeth allows you the ability to speak! Hand signals can sometimes be restrictive underwater, therefore speaking underwater could become the future of Scuba diving!

This is advantageous for all divers, being able to communicate with your dive buddies, especially commercial divers and videographers. The inside of the mask can be connected with a microphone, to communicate with other divers or record a voiceover while filming!

Talking underwater is a very controversial topic!

Of course, it is beneficial with videomakers, commercial divers and buddies who would like to verbally communicate. However, many Scuba divers are not too keen on this idea!

Scuba diving is very peaceful. Divers enter a magical underwater world, a place of peace and tranquillity. Scuba diving has been known to have many health benefits, similar to meditation. 

While diving, the focus is heightened on your breathing and you are alone with your thoughts, experiencing the magnificent underwater world from your perspective. 

Some divers believe this harmonious experience will be disrupted by being able to speak. There is something simple and extraordinary about only being able to communicate through hand signals and your eyes. 

While enjoying the beautiful marine life and quietness, you do not need someone singing baby shark behind you!

Full-face masks are bigger, heavier and more industrial. This mask type is commonly used by commercial divers, as it is more comfortable for longer and deeper dives!

Considering A Full-Face Mask

As with most Scuba diving equipment, it is important to try lots of full-face masks on. There are many different brands out there, with slightly different materials, shapes, sizes and feels to them! Visit your local Dive store that sells full-face masks, and try a few on! 

Buying a perfectly fitting mask is paramount, as comfort is crucial. Faces are different shapes and sizes, and it is vital to ensure your mask fits your face properly!

Take time trying different masks on and ensure you find one that fits you perfectly. Not only for comfort but to ensure the full-face mask is properly sealed, preventing leakages.

Don’t Forget Your Dive Insurance!

Before you go out on any dive trip or holiday, it is essential to make sure you have insurance that covers you if something goes wrong. Check out our dive insurance article for more information.

Or go straight to these dive insurance company websites:


Diver Alert Network (DAN)

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Final thoughts

Full-face masks are awesome! Breathing more naturally can increase comfort underwater and talking can provide benefits for communication and speciality dives. Improved field of vision and colour intensifies your diving experience.

Easily switching between a full face mask and a regulator, increases flexibility in diving options! 

Now you know how Full-face masks work, do you want to give them a try?

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Bethany Nyquist

Bethany is a writer, an Environmental Scientist and Dive Master, exploring the underwater world. Practising Underwater Photography, Bethany aims to raise awareness for and help protect marine life.

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