Welcome to the second installment, it was great to read so much positive feedback on the last post which was mainly targeting gear issues. This issue will tackle what has been one of the most frustrating parts of diving for me- HAIR! It is a serious pain in the ass for a lot of us lady divers and if you dive a lot and have never taken your wetsuit hood off to find your hair like above then we need to talk.
There are better things to do than stumble around in the shower with sea legs trying to untangle a bird’s nest on your head and while I haven’t found a perfect solution this is the best I’ve come up with so far. If you have a better one, please, PLEASE let us know. We will forever be in your debt.
Besides the obvious option of shaving your head (and trust me when I say I’ve come close many times after a long day of diving and sheer desperation) there are ways to keep your precious locks healthy. I have extremely fine hair and have found that the best way to keep it from knotting is to have it cut regularly to get rid of all the split ends (but of course, I’ve got better things to do and I rarely get it cut.) I find the best way to stop it knotting is to put it a low ponytail with multiple elastics down the ponytail (pictured below) This stops it from moving around too much in the water and in the event your hair does knot the segments stop the knot from becoming out of control like the pic above and is fairly easy to untangle in the shower with LOTS of conditioner. The low ponytail stops interfering with my GoPro head strap & doesn’t give me a headache when I wear a hood. I try to carry conditioner in my dive bag, I rub it in before a days diving and it saves me a tonne of effort later.
I’ve also found that hoods make the situation a million times worse, when you dive down (bending your neck) your hood is just constantly teasing your hair back and forth creating a huge knot, when temperature permits I prefer to leave my hood off and it rarely tangles at all. Not only will it save your hair but if you are on a drift dive you’ll hear the reef and be ready to dive before anyone else sees it.
Some people are lucky and get away with a simple bun. This does NOT work well for me…I literally had to get Michael to cut this hair elastic out for me after I attempted to redo my hair in the water and the elastic got tangled and my hair was flaying everywhere. It didn’t end well.
In the event you are caught out without a hair tie check out Kimi Werner’s solution… I’m not sure how well this would go after a days diving. Previous attempts at plaits and braids ended disastrously unless done with wet hair and a lot of conditioner.
If all the above fails get yourself a Wetbrush it is a life saver! fresh water, a bit of conditioner and this thing will save your ass! Other tips I’ve been told over the years is to never brush your hair when it’s salty as the hair follicles swell up and snap easier causing more knots and I’ve also heard that straightening your hair before diving will also prevent knotting but ain’t nobody got time fo dat.
I use to have great skin and would like to use this opportunity to stress how important it is to look after yourself because not only will you look great, you may live longer! This is even more important for those of us who live in Australia, you will know what I mean if you’ve ever spent an hour in the midday summer sun on the east coast of ‘Straya! I find it harsher than anywhere else in the world.
Zinc, zinc & more zinc!!!
I have witnessed first-hand major skin damage to myself in the past three years due to my ‘endless summer’ and I wish I had taken more care. A quality zinc is worth its weight in gold. The best one I’ve found so far is Raw Elements it’s all natural & organic ingredients means it doesn’t harm you or the environment and doesn’t sting if it runs into your eyes. Remember if you have fine hair like I do and don’t wear a hood, put some zinc in the part of your hair or it might get sunburnt and hurt like hell. If you are using a sunscreen or zinc that hurts your eyes then be sure to wear your hood and apply sunscreen from your eyes down so it doesn’t drip into your eyes. My face is my main focus as I wear a full-length wetsuit/stinger suit 100% of the time so I usually don’t have to worry about the rest of my body.
Wetsuit Lube: When I can get away with it, I jump in the ocean and put on my wetsuits. I find conditioners irritate my skin & can cause my wetsuit to slip when loading my gun. My skin gets irritated easily & I find the best way is to go commando with no soap. If it’s too cold to jump in the ocean I use QV Body wash & water to get in my suit. If I’ve been on a long shore dive & have been peeing in my wetsuit (we all do it) I use Phisohex anti-bacterial face wash as a full body wash to prevent any rashes. At the end of every day I wash my wetsuit out with at least fresh water or when possible: detail, Milton or a few drops of tea tree oil. Make sure to turn your wetsuit so it dries completely and doesn’t go mouldy. Really important when living in the tropics.
Stinger Treatment: After the standard first aid (Cold or hot compressions) I apply paw paw ointment or stingoes. It stops the itch and adds a protective layer over your skin for your next day of diving.
Lips: Chap stick or Zinc, don’t wear pawpaw ointment! It acts as an oil & has burnt my lips in the past.
Chaffe Points: If you are prone to chafe when diving try Pawpaw ointment or Aqueous Cream. Chuck it on before you don your wetsuit and it should help to prevent any further damage. Also investigate what’s causing your chafe, sometimes it can be a rogue stitch in your wetsuit causing all that trouble.
I hope this article helps out old and new female (and male) spearos, it can be quite daunting entering into a male-dominated sport but don’t let that stop you because it is one of the most rewarding lifestyles you will ever get addicted to. Find some local Spearfishing Clubs or join the Australian Women’s Spearfishing Network here, check them out and feel free to contact me with any questions or suggestions. I look forward to hearing your feedback and any comments and suggestions you may have, if you have any more questions please post them below for the next blog.