If you're a diver then you know the wetsuit struggle... and if you're a freediver or using a freedive open-cell wetsuit then you realllyyyy know the struggle, and the struggle is real folks!
What am I talking about — the dance shimmy shake while putting on your wetsuit and the on going search for lubricant to simmer the jive down! Whats the best product to use for gliding that suit on, whats the most natural and ocean safe product, and can I make my own wetsuit lube concoction? I have been asking myself all of these questions for a while now. I started out with the common diluted hair conditioner mixture that most freedivers swear by. However, I'm not sold on this option as the best, because generic hair conditioner is certainly not the best for some peoples skin and certainly not good to be consistently putting in the ocean (or lakes or pools or wherever you dive most)!
SO, with that being said, what are our options? My primary concern is the product being safe for our oceans, so my first thought was okay well what is a good all natural hair conditioner that can replace the commonly used Pantene or whatever your go to is. And there are a few great all natural products out there, but the question remains as to how they fare in the ocean and how they fare rubbing up against your skin in a suit. This product has proven to be awesome however: the verdict is in on Stream2Sea's Leave in Hair Conditioner, works like a champ AND is completely safe and biodegradable! Guilt Free option #1, check!
Guilt Free option #2 would be buying a 'lube' that was made specifically for your suit! A lot of wetsuit companies that sell open cell freedive suits actually carry lube you could purchase, but most of those products are actually not safe for the ocean. A awesome company to look into though is Shark Shot; their open cell wetsuit lubricant is made of seaweed [how cool] so it's good for your skin, easy on your suit, and completely benign to the ocean!
I can understand however if these two products have you a little concerned with spending the extra money, however sustainability is definitely something worth investing in! Regardless, frugality is what brought me to my next thought of... well what if I just make my own conditioner or lubricant. As I did research for DIY hair conditioner I realized going to the full lengths of homemade conditioner is a little futile if its just being used for slipping into a wetsuit. But what is the base of most DIY all natural reef safe and biodegradable skin and hair products?.... my favorite go to's of course - coconut oil and/or shea butter! Making a mixture out of either of these options are completely viable yet usually overlooked. The issue, from what I've read, is concern for degrading your suit. Most people are concerned with potential for build up or them causing your suit to smell over time. The same issue is present with a conditioner mixture though, so coconut oil or shea butter would just as well be worth a try to see if it's an option is that could work for you.
Moving on I want to address the usage of baby shampoo being used for lubricant. It has been my understanding that baby shampoo mighttt be safe for our seas, which is a common misconception; your generic baby shampoos are NOT eco-conscious. One of the important components to avoid when looking to purchase whatever attempt of safe lubricant product is Sodium Alkyl sulfates (AS), which is found in most baby wash/shampoos! So put it back on the shelf! If you're looking to stick with the simplicity of products like this though, my newest thought is to try out good ole Dr. Bronner's! By now most of us are aware that they're one of the top leading brands in environmentally friendly soaps, so why not give it a try as a wetsuit lubricant! It should be noted that I have not yet given this a go, and if you do I would highly advise you to pick a neutral 'scent'... as you definitely don't want to leave your body soaking in a burning peppermint wetsuit [for example]!
Okay thats all for now, I shall be testing out products to give you better insight as to what works best, and if you have your own feedback on products please let us know so we can share them with our epic diving community. Just remember, eco-conscious is worth the money!