A scuba diver underwater. Learning the no mask breathing skill is important.
Mastering the no mask breathing skill is very important in scuba diving. Photo by Jesse Van Vliet / Unsplash

No mask breathing? Why would we ever do this underwater?

Well, it’s actually a skill that is required in most diving courses, whether you are diving with PADI, SSI, RAID, or any of the other diving agencies. So let’s find out more about diving masks, and the secret to no mask breathing underwater!

Read More: How Long Does it Take to Get Scuba Certified?

Breathing with a Diving Mask

We use a diving mask to allow divers, including scuba divers, free-divers, and snorkelers to go underwater and see things clearly.

New scuba mask fogging? This Beuchat mask usually fogs.
Is your new scuba mask fogging? Follow these tips to defog and clean your mask.

A diving mask differs to ‘goggles’ as the mask will cover both the eyes and the nose. The nose pocket provides the following functions:

  1. To prevent mask squeeze – when you descend underwater and add more pressure, the air inside the mask decrease which will cause a partial vacuum in the air space. This pulls the mask against your face, creating a ‘mask squeeze.’ The nose pocket allows you to add more air when you exhale from the nose, thus reducing the pressure difference between the air in the mask and the surrounding water.
  2. To clear your mask – occasionally, water may seep into your mask. To remove water from your mask, you will need to exhale from your nose, allowing the air to displace the water, and clear the mask.

This is why you will need a diving mask when going for a dive underwater.

Flow Neoprene Cover for Dive and Snorkel Masks

A neoprene cover for your mask strap is very handy to stop hair from getting tangled. Especially if you are removing and replacing the mask on the surface, or underwater!

So, Why Breathe Underwater without a Mask?

The skill of breathing underwater without a mask is a safety skill to ensure you can still breathe through your mouth without panicking. Mastering no mask breathing is very important in case you find yourself needing to breathe without a mask for any of the following reasons.

  • Your buddy accidentally kicks you in the face with their fin, causing your mask to fall off
  • Your diving mask is super foggy and you can’t see anything so you need to remove it underwater and de-fog it
  • Water may seep into your mask during your dive

In usual circumstances, the diving mask will stop water from entering your nose (which isn’t a pleasant thing!). But if you mask floods with water or becomes dislodged, then you will need to breathe only through your mouth. So, what’s the secret to no mask breathing?

No Mask Breathing Technique

The number one rule in scuba diving is to ‘continuously breathe.’ Without a mask, you will need to breathe through your mouth. This means you need to relax and train yourself to not inhale through the nose. The best technique to practice this is the following:

In Shallow Water

  • In water you can stand in, take off your diving mask.
  • Keep the regulator in your mouth.
  • Submerge your head underwater.
  • Breathe in and out through the regulator.
  • You can pinch your nose to begin with if you are struggling with this skill.
  • You can close your eyes to begin with.
  • Overtime you should stop pinching your nose, and open your eyes.
  • Speak to yourself and remind yourself to ‘breathe in, and breathe out,’ through the mouth.
  • Once you are comfortable with no mask breathing in shallow water, you can practice in deeper waters.

Beuchat Maxlux S Mask

No joke, I have owned 4 of these Beuchat Maxlux masks. My first one was the dark blue, then pink, then ultra blue, and now black.

The mask silicon skirting is soft and molds to your face easily. It’s suitable for small and large faces. It is also frameless and incredibly low-profile (fits close to your face) which means you have amazing panoramic vision.

In Deeper Water

  • In water that is too deep to stand in, you should practice this skill often.
  • Submerge yourself in your full scuba diving equipment.
  • Once underwater, relax your breathing and begin to breath in and out through the mouth.
  • Take your mask off over your head and keep a hold of it.
  • Breathe in and out of your mouth. Feel free to talk to yourself and count the breaths going in and out.
  • Once comfortable and confident, replace your diving mask.

Read More: Tips on how to Remove and Replace Your Mask Safely

And there you have it, now that you have mastered no mask breathing, you can rest assured that if your mask becomes flooded or dislodged, then you will be able to breathe comfortably before fixing the problem!

Emma was initially terrified of the deep ocean but dived into scuba diving in 2013, and hasn't looked back since! She worked as an underwater videographer for several years and is now a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer. She currently runs a dive shop on the island of Koh Tao in Thailand and is the founder of Down To Scuba.