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Diving and Skin Care

Female diver looking at rock

Diving and Skin Care

Diving is fun and often brings us to beautiful places across the globe.

All the exposure to salt water, sand, wind, and the sun can have some unwanted side effects on our skin, however.

Here are some great tips on scuba diving skin care to make sure, you stay healthy wherever you go.

We also look at recommendations for skin care products for scuba divers that are reef-safe!

Is diving bad for your skin?

Diving and snorkeling are not bad for your skin, however, frequent exposure to salt water, sand, wind, and the sun can have negative side effects like cracked skin, dehydration, and sunburn. It is therefore recommended to use skin care products, sun blockers, and stay out of direct sunlight.

Scuba diving, snorkeling, and freediving have no negative impact on our skin per se.

There are no known side effects to breathing in compressed air or being temporarily exposed to higher pressures underwater.

However, the same cannot be said for other things that come with it.

Extended exposure to direct sunlight causes irreversible damage to our skin and increases your chances of decompression illness after diving. Sunburns are also super uncomfortable and painful.

Scuba divers over reef
Saltwater diving is fun but can irritate your skin.

Saltwater, though usually nice and warm, can dry out our skin and lead to cracks, as well as rashes.

Last but not least, sand combined with wind makes for an awful combination that hurts your ears and irritates the skin.

Therefore, it is important to take a few precautions and follow a skincare routine as a diver.

How to take care of your skin as a diver

Here are a few skincare tips for divers before and after a dive:

  1. Avoid direct sunlight exposure
  2. Apply sunscreen every day
  3. Use skincare products
  4. Wear a rash guard
  5. Shower with fresh water after a diving day
  6. Stay hydrated
  7. Don’t rub sand in your ears & face
  8. Put on dry clothes after a dive
  9. Use your own wetsuit
  10. Don’t forget your hair

Avoid direct sunlight exposure

Avoid laying in the direct sunlight and look for a place in the shades instead.

Apply sunscreen every day

UV light from the sun is very aggressive and will permanently damage your skin if you don’t take care of it. Apply sunscreen even if you think the sun is not intense enough.

Man applying sunscreen
Sunscreen is especially important in your face.

Use skincare products

Skin care products like lotion, sun screen, and moisturizer will help keep your skin intact and healthy.

You can find a list of recommended products below.

Wear a rash guard

Better than using cosmetics is of course if your skin is protected by something else, too.

Therefore, I recommend wearing a rash guard or shorty for diving, snorkeling, and laying at the beach.

Snorkeler in clear water at surface
A rash guard offers good protection for your skin while snorkeling.

It can be worn on its own or underneath an exposure suit and helps protect your skin. It also has a built-in sun deflection factor of SFP50+!

Check out the best rash guards of 2022 more recommendations!

Shower with fresh water after a diving day

Saltwater is very aggressive and can hurt your skin.

Shower and wash off any saltwater after a diving day. Refrain from taking ultra hot showers though, as this is thought to be a risk factor for decompression sickness.

Stay hydrated

Hydration is key for scuba diving, as well as maintaining healthy skin.

Drip plenty of water before and after every dive and you have a cheap way to keep your skin intact.

Man drinking water on beach
Hydration is super important!

Don’t rub sand in your ears & face

Beaches are amazing places to be except…there is sand everywhere!

Wind and sand and skin are not the best of combinations and we tend to rub sand into our ears and skin.

This creates irritations, and inflammations, and can end a dive trip way too quickly.

Check out our article on ear care for divers to ensure you can enjoy all dives without ear pain.

Put on dry clothes after a dive

If possible, replace dripping wetsuits with a dry shirt and shorts after a dive.

This will reduce skin irritations from salt water and prevent that you rub open your skin with wet scuba gear.

Use your own scuba gear

Rental wetsuits aren’t necessarily the most hygienic things to wear and can cause skin irritations if they were washed with certain soaps.

The same goes for scuba masks and especially dive boots!

Therefore, it is best to buy your own wetsuit and any other scuba gear you wear on your skin!

Person zipping wetsuit
A rash guard is also great for underneath a rental wetsuit.

Don’t forget your hair

Skin care is important, however, don’t neglect your hair either.

Here is a separate guide on caring for your hair as a scuba diver!

Skincare products for divers

These are the best skincare products for divers:

Reef-safe Sun Screen

Reef-safe sun screen is a diver’s best friend and should be part of every diving trip packing list. They protect your skin from the sun while not damaging our reefs.

There are plenty of options nowadays and they come with any protection factor imaginable.

My personal recommendations are the Sun Bum 50 or the Stream2Sea tinted sunscreen. Both are fairly priced and offer a large protection factor.

Reef-safe moisturizer

Moisturizer prevents cracking and irritations of your skin after sun and salt water exposure. Reef-safe moisturizer is also a super nice gift for any diver as it also protects fish and corals.

I like the Raw Elements moisturizer and the Biossance Squalane ones the most, but it’s personal preference.

Night body lotion

Of course, the rest of your body needs to be taken care of, as well, and body lotion is the best way to protect it.

Not only is it good for your skin, it also feels super nice and is a great end to a diving day.

CeraVe is a well-known beauty brand and a diver’s favorite.

Cracked Skin Treatment

If you were unlucky and your skin already cracked, use a skin treatment lotion to speed up the healing process.

Skin cracks usually happen at the knuckles, elbows, heels, and in your face and Aquaphor has some great products for that.

It’s primarily for acute treatment, so revert to a body lotion for the rest of your skin.

Conclusion

Skincare is important for divers when diving at sunny ocean diving destinations.

The major takeaways are to avoid direct sunlight, use sunscreen, and wash off saltwater as soon as possible.

Skincare products like lotions and moisturizers are super helpful in maintaining clean and healthy skin.

Do you have any other skin care tips for us?

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Always dive with friends and happy bubbles. 😃

Cheers

Julius

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