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Why Are Scuba Wetsuits Always Black? 9 Compelling Reasons and A Quick Dive Into History

When was the last time you saw a diver putting on a wetsuit that wasn’t black? Hard to remember isn’t it? This probably makes you wonder why is black such a popular choice for scuba wetsuits.

Do manufacturers even make wetsuits in colors other than black? Obviously, they do. Although brightly colored wetsuits are manufactured few and far between, they are indeed available if you look closely.

The color of scuba diving suits is not chosen randomly, but rather for practical, aesthetic reasons as well as cultural influence. Black is the most popular color for diving wetsuits due to its unique properties that make it an ideal color for diving.

In this article, I will gloss over all the reasons that make black the most sought-after color for wetsuits. So, let’s dive right in!

Why Do Most Scuba Wetsuits Always Come in Black?

Apart from obvious practical reasons, the prevalence of black wetsuits since their first availability in the 1950s can be attributed to several other reasons.

Numerous wetsuit trends have come and gone in the diving community but the color aspect was pretty much dominated by black.

The availability of raw materials, the preferences of professional divers, and even the association of black with luxury and exclusivity all play a role in making black the most popular color for diving wetsuits.

Neoprene Fabric

The choice of color for wetsuits is not only a matter of fashion or preference but is also influenced by the material used to make them. Most wetsuits are made from black closed-cell foam neoprene, a synthetic rubber material that is a popular choice for its flexibility, durability, and insulating properties.

Neoprene fabric is available in a variety of colors, but it is more commonly produced in black due to its manufacturing process. Neoprene is produced by polymerizing chloroprene, which is naturally white. During the production process, carbon black is added to the polymer to enhance its physical properties, including its resistance to UV radiation, heat, and chemicals. This addition of carbon black to neoprene gives neoprene its characteristic black color.

The Consumerism Factor Behind Black Wetsuits

The market trends and supply-demand played a significant role in the prevalence of black wetsuits. Manufacturers tried to popularize bright colored wetsuits in the past but the demand for them was just not there. In 1960, the British Dunlop Sports Company brought out its yellow Aquafort neoprene wetsuit, whose high visibility was intended to improve diver safety. However, the line was discontinued after a short while and wetsuits reverted to their black uniformity.

What Set the Black Wetsuit Trend As The Norm?

During World War II, the US military used black rubber suits for underwater operations. These suits were designed to be lightweight, flexible, and resistant to tearing, making them ideal for diving.

After the war, the use of black neoprene diving suits became more widespread, as former military divers brought their experience and equipment into civilian life. In the 1950s, the popular TV show “Sea Hunt” starring Lloyd Bridges showcased the use of black wetsuits and helped to popularize them among divers. The show, which aired from 1958 to 1961, featured Bridges as a former Navy frogman turned underwater adventurer. He was often seen wearing a black wetsuit as he explored the depths of the ocean.

The combination of military use and the influence of popular media helped to condition the popularity of black diving suits. The military association gave black wetsuits a sense of toughness and durability, while the TV show gave them a sense of adventure and glamour.

As more people took up scuba diving as a recreational activity, the popularity of black wetsuits grew exponentially.

End result? Even today, black wetsuits remain a popular choice for scuba divers around the world even though they’re no longer associated exclusively with military operations or TV shows.

9 Reasons Behind the Popularity of Black Wetsuits

Apart from the historical trends being set, what other reasons are there for choosing a black wetsuit for diving? Well, black color wetsuits have a lot to offer in terms of practicality and aesthetics.

1. Black Absorbs Heat

This is one of the primary reasons. The color black is a very good absorber of light, which means that it can absorb more sunlight than any other color. This property is important for diving because it allows the suit to absorb sunlight and convert it into heat, keeping the diver warm in cold waters. Black is the most effective color at absorbing heat from the sun. This is particularly important for divers who spend extended periods underwater.

2. Black Neoprene Protects from UV Rays

Black neoprene is known for its high level of UV resistance, which can help to prevent sunburn and skin damage during long hours of diving. This is particularly important if you’re spending a lot of time in shallow waters or near the surface, where the intensity of the sun’s rays is the strongest.

3. Black Reduces Glare

Brightly colored wetsuits can create glare underwater. Depending on the color intensity of your suit, you may appear as a hazy glowing blob from the distance. Ideal Shark Bait! It might even be difficult for you to assess your surrounding by looking past the glare.

Black wetsuits, on the other hand, absorb most of the incident light and reduce glare thus offering you better underwater vision.

4. Black Neoprene is Durable

Black neoprene is less likely to show signs of wear and tear compared to lighter-colored neoprene, which can become discolored or faded over time. The once-pretty-looking pink wetsuit might not stay pretty for long after braving those salty waters for a prolonged period.

Black wetsuits on the other hand are tough and can withstand even the saltiest seawater without fading out of existence.

5. Black Neoprene Make Stains Less Visible

Due to the nature of diving, wetsuits can easily become stained from dirt, sand, and other debris in the water. Black neoprene is less likely to show these stains, making it a more practical choice for divers who want to keep their wetsuits looking clean and new. This is especially important for rental wetsuits, which are often used by multiple people and need to withstand frequent washing and wear.

6. Black Offers Better Camouflage

Think of your black wetsuit as an underwater ghillie suit. When diving in caves or around reefs, these neoprene ghillies can help you blend in with the surroundings, especially during night dives or in low visibility conditions. Unleash the marine peeping tom inside you!

7. Black Amplifies Elegance

The color Black is associated with elegance, sophistication, and a sense of professionalism, which can help to create a sense of confidence and authority for the diver wearing it.

Black is often the synonym for brand and premium luxury. Many diving equipment manufacturers offer black wetsuits as part of their premium product line, which can help to create a sense of exclusivity and prestige for the wearer. Talk about overcharging based on color!

8. Black is Versatile

The popularity of black wetsuits is also influenced by the trend toward minimalist and monochromatic fashion. It is a versatile and timeless color that fits well with this trend and can be easily paired with other black or neutral-colored accessories for a sleek and modern look.

9. Black Makes You Look Slimmer

Black is known to have a slimming effect on the body, which can be particularly helpful if you’re self-conscious about your body shape. The dark color of black wetsuits helps to create a streamlined silhouette, making you appear more slender and toned.

It’s time to tuck in those extra chubs and flex that athletic build on the dive boat champ!

What Color of Dive Suit Is Considered The Best?

The best color for a diving suit ultimately depends on your personal preference as a diver and the conditions in which you will be diving.

Personally, I’ve always sought out the classic double-lined black neoprene wetsuits of varied thicknesses as they felt the most comfortable to me. Besides, at one point in my life, I used to dive at least 20-25 times a month and these wetsuits proved to be the most durable for my rigorous dive routines.

Nowadays, brightly colored wetsuits and accessories are on the rise again among young fashion-conscious scuba diving enthusiasts. Take a quick visit to your local surf/scuba store and you will be surprised at the variety of non-black suits out there. I can swear I saw a floral print wetsuit for rent at a dive shop in Belize! Wild times indeed.

Are Sharks Attracted to Brightly Colored Wetsuits?

‘Yum yum yellow’ is a term you’ve probably heard of. It’s used extensively in the diving community to describe a special line of bright yellow color wetsuits that some dive gear companies produce. While it may be visually appealing and noticeable underwater, there is no evidence to suggest that sharks are attracted to this particular shade of yellow or bright colors.

However, Diver’s Alert Network (DAN) has also addressed this question and concluded that there is actually some truth to it. Sharks don’t necessarily prefer yellow hue in particular, but a number of shark species can perceive any high-contrast color, such as yellow, orange, or red. These colors are easier for the shark to see, especially in murky water or up against a bright backdrop.

For your own safety, don’t dress up like a fireman and dive feet-first into areas known for higher shark activity. I would suggest you choose to wear wetsuits with patterns that blend in with their surroundings, such as camouflaged or mottled patterns, which may make them less noticeable to sharks.

Are There Any Safety Concerns with Wearing Brightly Colored Wetsuits?

There are no proven practical dangers to wearing brightly colored wetsuits while scuba diving. So you can obviously wear them.

However, keep note that some bright colors, such as neon or fluorescent, may fade more quickly than darker colors like black or navy blue. This can be a concern if you plan to use your wetsuit frequently or for extended periods of time.

Are There Advantages to Wearing a Brightly Colored Wetsuit?

Bright wetsuits, which are often neon or fluorescent in color, offer increased visibility and safety underwater. They are especially useful for night diving, diving in low-light conditions or murky waters as well as cave diving. What’s better than bringing glowsticks to your night dives? Become the living and kicking glowstick!

Wetsuit color changes as you go deeper underwater which is where your bright wetsuit can shine somewhat better (literally) and help you stand out underwater and in turn making it easier for your dive buddy or instructor to spot you in case of an emergency.

Not willing to drag that dive flag or buoy with you everywhere you dive (here’s why ditching your dive flag is not a great idea)?

That brightly colored suit of yours might be the perfect alternative for a dive flag and make it easier for boat operators to spot your neon glare from afar.

What Other Factors Should Be Considered When Choosing a Color for Your Wetsuit?

If you are still on the fence about what color of wetsuit is the best for you here are some factors that will give you the much-needed push to make the choice:

  • Visibility: While black is a popular color for dive suits, it may not always be the most visible in certain underwater environments. Consider the water conditions and the visibility range of the dive site itself. If you are diving in murky or low-light conditions, a brighter color may again be a better choice to ensure you are easily visible to other divers.
  • Water temperature: The color of your dive suit can affect how warm you feel underwater. Dark colors like black and navy can absorb more sunlight and keep you warmer in cold water, while lighter colors can reflect more sunlight and keep you cooler in warmer waters.
  • Personal preference: At the end of the day, your dive suit color should be something that you feel comfortable and confident in. Be it a bold and bright neon suit or the classic black one, choose something that suits your personal style and preferences.
  • UV protection: Some dive suits are treated with a UV protection layer to prevent damage from the sun’s rays. Lighter colors like white or yellow may offer less protection than darker colors like black or navy.
  • Wildlife interaction: Depending on the type of wildlife in the area, certain colors may attract or repel animals. Bright colors like yellow or orange can attract fish, while darker colors may blend in better with the environment and not attract unwanted attention.


The black color of dive suits is not just a matter of fashion but also serves practical purposes for divers. The color black provides better insulation, camouflages the diver in the water, and protects against the sun’s harmful UV rays.

Other colors may be more visually appealing, yes I absolutely agree but you can’t just throw safety concerns out of the window or compromise the functionality of your wetsuit when making a choice. So, next time you’re choosing a diving suit, maybe keep this article in the back of your mind.

William Dupre

William Dupre

Retired Master Diver with 20+ years of experience and 2100+ logged dives. Presently, spending my time blogging about Diving and checking off locations one by one from my bucket list of dive destinations.

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