I have been SCUBA diving since I was in my teens. I used to save a little bit of money from each paycheck and buy a piece of either new, or used, equipment when it was feasible. I am double-certified by NAUI and YMCA and have been diving pretty much all over, and in every condition except under ice.
The bad news, I personally feel that diving is awful on my hair. The moist air makes my hair very mushy-feeling on its own (since I lighten it). But throw in the constant exposure to salt water and you have a recipe for DAMAGED HAIR! Plus, the UV exposure can be harsh on your skin and hair, as well. It also can be harsh on your body in general. There really isn’t too much you can do, but you can take precautions to lessen the blow to your body.
•Stay Hydrated: I feel this is number one; your body needs to moisturize the dry air you are breathing from the SCUBA cylinders before it takes it in. At least it will try to. If you aren’t properly hydrated, your body can’t do its job. You will also get dry mouth a lot and the salt water you accidentally swallow doesn’t help. Please have plenty of water on board. A sports drink, like Cytomax, is also beneficial. I would bring a few to be sure. Sometimes there is no potable water onboard.
•Sunscreen: You are on a boat surrounded by reflective water in direct sun (obviously, if you are doing night dives sunscreen is unnecessary). If you have a full diveskin or wetsuit on, which I can’t imagine you having anything less than a 7mm wetsuit if you are in the Pacific near California, you don’t need sunscreen on your body. But you need it on your face. WEAR A HIGH SPF SUNSCREEN like Anthelios.
•Lip Balm: Lip Balm will usually not stay on while you are diving. But, it is good to have on hand for surface intervals. The saltwater dries my lips out, as does the sun and wind. I like the Vaseline Lip Therapy line, or Noni lip balm but anything you prefer will do. Make sure it has at least a SPF 15 sunscreen!
•Mirror: A small compact is a good idea. As always, use it to check your nose because you will have boogies.
•Paper Towels: Kleenex will usually not be tough enough so bring a few paper towels that you have folded and stored into a Ziploc bag instead. Bounty usually is the best since they tear less easily.
•Make-up: It is great to help block UV light as well as covers blemishes, but you will find it will be very difficult to keep on. I use a foundation and some Bare Escentuals mineral powder and I only apply it once in the morning. Why I even bother is beyond me but I think it is because of the hyperpigmentations I am self-conscious about and also preventing new ones. But, I see no point in re-applying throughout the day because it is a lost cause.
•Hair: Salt can do a real number on your hair (you are less likely to damage your hair with fresh-water diving). If you have hair extensions, especially synthetic ones, it usually is not a good idea to braid your hair and go into the water. Instead. Leave it in a secured fashion at the base with ponytail holders down its length. I suggest you also apply something like PHYTO PLAGE Protective Sun Veil to help protect your hair. If you want, you can bring some along and reapply during surface intervals. However, some feel this is a moot point because you will be entering the water eventually again. Especially since many saturate their hair with fresh water before going into the salt water. Which is a very good idea! So pick your battles and choose your weapons. If you have enough fresh water on hand, be sure to rinse the salt out of your hair afterwards. You can wear a non-rubber, breatheable skull cap if you want. Under Armour makes a good one but don’t think it will offer you protection like a neoprene hood will.
•Nails: I personally like to dive with short nails. I can rip a nail off in less than 5 minutes of walking on a boat. You can always grow them out or get a longer set later; it’s better than an injury.
At The End Of The Day
You will feel like showering no matter what. If it’s cold, it will warm you up, if it’s hot it will cool you down and rinse the nastiness from you. Wash your hair with a really good conditioner and don’t forget to apply a good lotion like Aveeno Moisturizing Lotion. Diving can be harsh on your body so be sure to make up for it post-dive.
See ya below!
Next Week: Sailing!