Black vs Clear Silicone Masks
There are so many things to consider when purchasing a new mask – framed or frameless, low or large volume, single or twin lenses, plain or tinted glass and type of strap and buckle adjustments. While the skirt colour will be a personal choice depending on the environment and application it is being used in, fit and comfort are still the most important factors when choosing a new mask. Our blog below weighs up the pros and cons of black and clear silicone masks.
A black mask works a bit like a pair of sunglasses. Photographers favour them as there is less glare and the black skirt blocks reflections on the inside of the lenses. Reflections can interfere with focus. A black skirt also helps when reviewing photographs in the LCD screen.
Freedivers who have spearfishing as a hobby also tend to prefer a black skirt. It is thought that dark masks help to hide your eyes, so as not to scare off the fish. The reflection of light in a clear silicone mask makes it difficult for the freediver to focus on moving fish and is not helpful when looking into dimly lit areas. Black silicone also protects a freediver’s eyes from harsh UV rays if spending a long time at the surface.
Military and technical divers use black masks as they help to focus on tasks or computer screens when carrying out deco. Light patterns created by surrounding water movement can be distracting in a clear silicone mask. In cave diving a black skirt will stop your buddy’s cave light from blinding you from the side.
They are actually better for snorkellers at the surface in bright conditions as sunlight can’t penetrate through the skirt and cause reflections on the inside of the glass. Too much light from above can also make you squint.
- Black masks don’t discolour with age (or if in constant contact with neoprene wetsuits/hoods etc)
- You can’t see any snot or nasty mildew inside them!
- They are good for sunny locations where you can get blinded by light bouncing off a sandy bottom
- Black masks are easier to find if dropped on the bottom
Some divers find black masks claustrophobic. This is why most beginners start with a clear silicone mask. They are also more “friendly” looking. While many instructors use a black mask when guiding dives, many keep a clear silicone mask for teaching as it looks less threatening and is better for demonstrating skills with.
Photographers like their models to wear clear silicone masks as they let in more light around the eyes and face and don’t cause harsh shadows.
In less sunny destinations, clear silicone can be an advantage by letting more light in. They also give improved peripheral vision.
- You can see something moving even if not directly in front of you
- Clear masks feel more airy and “invisible”
- There is definitely more choice of colours, volume and size for different face shapes with clear silicone masks.