Selecting the right mask for you
There are plenty of masks on the market, but there is much more to them than just what colour they are. The distance between the eye and the lens creates the volume of the mask, different volumes, materials and brands result in different benefits that are useful for different people.
The two most crucial factors in choosing your diving mask are fit and comfort. There are important features which every mask should have such as a water tight skirt, an adjustable strap, low profile and so on. See the components section for more about this. Selecting the correct mask for you is pivotal as a leaky mask or ill-fitting mask can take the fun out of your dive. The range of brands and styles available mean there is a mask to suit any style and budget, but don't compensate on fit and comfort just for a cheaper or jazzier design!
To test a mask for a good fit, use what divers call the "sniff" text. Place the mask against your face without using the strap and inhale through your nose. A properly fitting mask will pull into place by suction and stay as you inhale. If you have to push or twist the mask to make it seal, try a different one. After finding some that fit, try pinching your nose with it on to see which will allow you the easiest equalization. A good tip is to try pinching your nose both with and without diving gloves on as this can often affect your grip and finger width.
As mentioned in the Components section, masks with prescription lenses are available if you require visual correction. Not all masks do this regularly, so it is best to ask about it when purchasing your mask to check the style or brand you have opted for allows for prescription lenses.
For most people a clear mask is good enough; it doesn't restrict the field of vision too much and is perfect for viewing the underwater wildlife and plant life. But if you are a keen underwater photographer, you may want to look at masks with black skirts. See the components section for more on this.
There are also masks available with special compartments for your ears, great for protecting divers from water entering the ear canal. These are great if you have experienced ear, nose or throat problems in the past. A tube connects the ear compartments to the main section of the mask so that you are able to equalise with your nose in the usual way.
If you have sensitive skin or allergies there are a number of masks manufactured using hypoallergenic silicon, these are not only great if you do worry about your skin but the material tends to be much more durable and high quality.