Tangle-Free Tips and Hairstyles for Scuba Divers

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I have vivid (and painful) memories of trying to detangle a rat’s nest of hair after a long day of diving. My closest dive buddies have doubled as my hair stylists on more than one occasion. At the end of my AIDA 3 freediving course, my hair situation looked so desperate, I thought I might have to cut it. My friends and I put on a movie, grabbed a brush, and a bottle of conditioner. Two friends combed my hair while the third took a break. After a few minutes, they’d switch. After this traumatic experience, I vowed to find a solution to post-dive bad hair days.

In this guide, I’ll share tangle-free hair care tips and easy hair styles you can wear during your next dive.

Scuba diving hair care tips

Love long hair? Get layers

For years, I kept my hair one length and my hair would tangle drastically after each dive. My hairdresser convinced me to get layers after I’d come in with a mat on the nape of my neck. If your hair is all the same length, it will become one mass and tangle. If your ends are split, they’re also likely to tangle more. Regular trims also help keep long hair from tangling, as split ends cause hair to tangle more.

Moisturize your hair regularly

If you’re in the ocean a lot, salt water can dry your hair out to a point where everyday shampoo and conditioner won’t give it the hydration it needs. Keep your hair moisturized by rubbing in coconut oil or using a conditioning hair mask. Before you dive, you can rub a reef safe leave-in conditioner, like Stream2Sea, to help keep your hair hydrated during the dive.  

Move hair out of your face for a leak-free mask

If you have bangs or fine hairs framing your face, you’ll want to pull them back before you put on your mask. Even a single strand of hair inside of a mask skirt can cause a mask to leak, so you’ll want to have your mask skirt flush against your skin. You can use a headband or buff to keep hair away from your face. A buff doubles as sun protection during a surface interval, too.

Mask straps help with comfort

One of the biggest pain points for in scuba diving is when hair tangles with the mask strap or side clip. When you go to remove a mask, it’s often impossible to do so without tearing the hair. A neoprene mask trap helps give a more comfortable fit.

Wear a hood

If you’re scuba diving in cold water, wearing a hood is easily the best way to keep your hair out of your face, tangle-free, and comfortable. You can pull your hair into a low braid, put it into your wetsuit, and enjoy!

Tangle-Free Scuba Diving Hair Styles

No matter what hair style you choose, you want to either keep your hair:

  1. At the nape of your neck
  2. On top of your head

This will leave plenty of space for your mask strap. If your mask strap needs to go over your hair, it’ll be uncomfortable during the dive, might cause your hair to tangle, and makes your mask prone to leaking.

If you’re wearing a wetsuit or swimwear that fastens at the back, you might want to choose a high hairdo rather than a low one. Low hairstyles tend to tangle with wetsuit zippers, Velcro, clasps, or even the scuba gear itself.

When it’s time to comb out your hair, I recommend the Wet Brush if you have long hair. If you have short hair, check out the Tangle Teezer. The bristles on these brushes are very flexible and made specifically for wet hair.

Scrunchie ponytail

The scrunchie ponytail is one of the easiest and effective hairstyles for keeping long hair tangle-free during a long day of diving. Gather your hair into a super high ponytail or low ponytail. Then, add a hair tie every two inches until your reach the bottom of the ponytail. Pull your ponytail a bit tighter than you would normally, as it’ll inevitably loosen up a bit in the water.

If you wear a loose ponytail, the hair is likely tangle together as you dive.


Braids keep your hair together and away from your face. Pulling your hair into braids or a side braid also keeps your hair away from any zippers or clasps at the back of your wetsuit. Rub a small amount of reef-safe leave-in conditioner into the braid to keep it from tangling after your dive. If you have bangs or face-framing layers, pull them back into a French braid so that they’re away from your face.

Braids can tangle easily if you have long hair. If you come out of the water and your braid is tangled, leave your braid in until you take a freshwater shower. Then, work some conditioner into the braid and untangle it little by little. Don’t unravel your braid while it’s dry and salty, as this will just make it tangle more.

Top knot or space buns

One of the easiest ways to keep your hair out of your face? Throw it into a top knot! Or, make it two! This will pull any of the shorter hairs around your face back and leave plenty of space for your mask strap. This is a great style to keep your hair from wrapping around your wetsuit, tank, or BCD. Plus, it’s easily to re-do during a surface interval.

Discover more lifestyle tips

How To Care for Salty, Sun-Damaged Hair
How to Choose (and Wear) Reef-Safe Sunscreen
Make it Last: How to Care for Your Wetsuit