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Thread: Why we don't advise full silicone tails for your first tail.

  1. #1

    Why we don't advise full silicone tails for your first tail.

    (People have been asking me to repost a post I made in reply to a thread as a sticky, so I'm doing so Editing a little to take it from specific context to general context.)

    If you ask what type of tail it's best for a beginner to start off with, chances are we're going to tell you to start with a fabric tail. Or at least a neoprene tail. It is the best way to go, but if you your really want a silicone tail and don't want to go that way don't! We're just here to advise you on what we know from experience and seen for ourselves. This is based on many years of experiences from many different merfolk.

    The reasons most mers recommend fabric first:


    -You may find when you get a tail that you don't like mermaiding after all. This actually happens a LOT. I myself have had dozens of friends hard core geek out about wanting to be a mermaid, but the minute I put them in a monofin and/or tail they they dropped that idea like a sack of bricks and never looked back. It's just not for some people.
    Then there's about half or more of mers who get into mermaiding, are super gung ho for a while, then lose interest within a year or two. If you have a fabric tail it's no big deal. When you have a multi thousand dollar tail, you're going to lose a good chunk of that in resale.

    -Silicone tails are HEAVY. Staring off with one you can actually injure yourself. I've seen it happen to people starting of with silicone tails, and/or starting off with a competitor monofin. You use different muscles to swim in and maneuver around in (dry or wet) a tail, so if you put a whole lot of stain on muscles that aren't used to that it can end badly. Even in needing a trip to the doctor for some. Full silicone tails usually are 15-30+lbs just in the fluke.

    -When you're learning, you're going to bang up your first tail something fierce! There's more too it than learning to just swim from A to B. There's different kinds of turns, there's hovering instead of standing on your fluke, there's completely eliminating that nasty habit of ever hopping around on your fluke (balance can be an issue for first timers), there's learning how to gauge where the pool bottom and sides are at all times so you don't scrape anything, ect. This can lead to a lot of scraping, ripping, tearing, all that- even if you're careful! For a fabric tail you can repair it or get a new one. For a silicone one, repairs or replacement is very expensive, especially if you have to send it back to the tailmaker. We're talking a few hundred just for shipping. I've observed a lot of mers going from nothing to silicone or from fabric to silicone have the following happen to them- they scrape off a lot or all the paint on their heels, knees, and even the fluke (I've even seen paint scraped off of the body of silicone tails), put holes in the silicone body, tear the silicone body, tear the waist line, tear off dorsal fins, tear off other extra fins (pectoral, heel, ankle), and over stretch scales from putting it on improperly. That can be one expensive learning process if you go with silicone.

    -Starting off in a silicone tail can be scary. Most people don't realize that having your legs bound together in the water until they're in the water having trouble. With a fabric tail you can have that thing of in literally 3 seconds if you need to, even total beginners can have it of in 5 seconds. A silicone tail? If you're panicking you're screwed, becuase that thing is skin tight with very tight foot pockets- it takes more time to get off. Even if people don't have a silicone tail I always advise them to learn with a tail and/or monofin with a floatation device and a safety buddy. For some people swimming in a tail comes natural. For others they just can't get it and they panic. So better to have safety first.

    -Silicone tails are heavy and rubbery. They HURT when they hit someone. It takes times to learn to manuver around people safely in a pool with other people, and in close proximity. When I hit someone in my fabric tail it wasn't a big deal, or it just hurt them enough and "Ow!" and "Oh I'm so sorry!" "It's okay, just stung a bit." was all that I got. With a silicone tail you can leave a welt or worse.

    -Silicone tails require a lot of care, and some maintenance that people may not be comfortable doing on their own. Silicone isn't indestructible, like people like to think. Chlorine and other things wear away at it like anything else. With silicone it can make it dry out, crack, and generally make it weaker leading to other issues. With some tailmakers the paint comes off way more easily than it should. If it gets moldy it will eat away at the silicone and make it fragile or even make it look dirty (when the mold is on the inside and you look at it from the outside). You get can get rips, tears, holes, ect same as any other tail. Silicone is harder to fix than neoprene or latex and neoprene tails.

    Full after swim maintenance usually takes about an hour. You have to rinse it with water well inside and out, give it a baking soda rinse or bath, rinse it well again (if you want to be good about it, wipe it down with a virgin sponge as well while rinsing to make sure it's getting everything off), dry it by hand inside and out-and you have to get down in the fluke and footpockets REALLY well to avoid mold- then prop it up or open to make sure any remaining moisture airs out. Every few swims you really should spray it with adult toy cleaner or wipe it out with lysol wipes to kill bacteria and prevent mold. You need to patch holes or tears yourself with silicone. If you got your tail from a maker where paint comes off, you have to repaint it yourself with silicone and pigment or send it back to the tailmaker to have it touched up. If you tear off a fin or rip a seam you have to try and repair it yourself or send it back to the maker. Also you have to be extra careful in transporting it and storing it or you can damage it. Also if you lose weight you can't just take it in like all other tails- you have to send it in to be taken in. Some tailmakers can't fix the paint job if it's distorted by taking in the tail. They're high care tails, IF you want them to last more than a year or two.

    Usually beginners don't want to deal with all that. They just want to swim and be done. With silicone tails swimming is only half of it.



    Those are the usual reasons why we advise people to start off with fabric or neoprene tails. But it's just that- advice! If you believe you're experienced enough they won't be issues, or are wiling to deal with said issues, then go for it! We're here to support you Just be aware of what you're getting yourself into!

    Wingéd Mermaid Iona

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  2. #2
    Senior Member Pod of The South Blondie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Winged Mermaid
    -You may find when you get a tail that you don't like mermaiding after all. This actually happens a LOT. I myself have had dozens of friends hard core geek out about wanting to be a mermaid, but the minute I put them in a monofin and/or tail they they dropped that idea like a sack of bricks and never looked back. It's just not for some people.
    Then there's about half or more of mers who get into mermaiding, are super gung ho for a while, then lose interest within a year or two. If you have a fabric tail it's no big deal. When you have a multi thousand dollar tail, you're going to lose a good chunk of that in resale.


    I couldn't agree with this one anymore. I love mermaiding. But actually doing it anymore? Not so much... I love watching others and going on the Mernetwork every night. But I feel as if I have moved on from my tail. It was lot of fun and I got a couple swims out of it. But I think I'm going to sell mine. When I first wanted a tail, I knew it would be a good idea to start with a more cheaper end tail. I don't feel bad that I spent only $200 for my tail. It was worth it for the fun I had. But now I think I want to pass the torch.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Undisclosed Pod
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    I talk a lot about the pros and cons of each type of tail in my book too, and I really agree with this.

    Some of the threads I've written on the topic are related too: http://mernetwork.com/index/showthre...our-first-tail

    I think the odd person really can handle a silicone tail first, but in my experience TOO MANY PEOPLE have the incorrect expectations with their tails. I can't tell you how many complaints I've heard from tail makers that people complain their silicone tail is too heavy, when that tail is actually the standard weight. People throwing fits cuz they dont do their home work and have no clue what they've bought and complaining like it's a fault of the tail makers -_-

  4. #4
    This is why I have decided to go with neoprene first. I have my competitor monofin, and I love swimming around in it, but I realise there is a big difference between swimming around in just a monofin and swimming in a full silicone tail. There are some really amazing neoprene tails out there that can really hold their own against the silicone ones, and I know I could make one just as good. Eventually I plan on making my silicone tail, bit for me I think neoprene is the way to go just to make sure I love mermaiding as much as I think I do and I am fully ready to take on the risk/commitment of making a silicone tail. And who knows, I might be completely happy with my neoprene tails just like Hannah and Mermaid Kariel and not even want to go there with silicone. I think everyone who is considering a silicone tail for their first needs to read this.

  5. #5
    Senior Member North Pacific Pod Miyu's Avatar
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    Oh, wait... You say people complain that they are heavy... When I did my first swim with a monofin last month or so, I actually was having a hard time because I am extremely positively bouyant... Hopefully a silicone tail will help weigh me down a bit

    I really hope to get the funds for a monofin soon to practice more in a fabric tail before I get a silicone tail...

    Thank you very much for the info. Now I know to take it REALLY SLOW and bring floaties for testing my silicone tail in water I'll also let my mertender know he can stand as close to me as he wants "in case of", because I probably won't be going anywhere in a hurry so he doesn't need to worry about getting in my way :P

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  6. #6
    I don't think people realize just how heavy they are. If someone asks me where they can get one, I usually tell them I do not recommend them for the general public. Not only are they too heavy for most people, constrict your legs, are hard to move in, hard to get on and off, don't breath, etc etc.... they are terribly expensive! I wear mine for work, but when I am just swimming for fun, I wear fabric tails, because they have none of those issues, and its much more enjoyable. But I do love my silicone for its realism!

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by BlueMermaid View Post
    I don't think people realize just how heavy they are. If someone asks me where they can get one, I usually tell them I do not recommend them for the general public. Not only are they too heavy for most people, constrict your legs, are hard to move in, hard to get on and off, don't breath, etc etc.... they are terribly expensive! I wear mine for work, but when I am just swimming for fun, I wear fabric tails, because they have none of those issues, and its much more enjoyable. But I do love my silicone for its realism!
    I am thinking they would be extremely cumbersome and impractical for dry events, not to mention sweaty and uncomfortable when out of the water. And since I am wanting to do dry events in my tail...yeah. Neoprene and sequins it is for me, at least for now. A silicone tail is still on the agenda as a future project though

  8. #8
    Senior Member Pod of Oceania Mermaid Jaffa's Avatar
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    I think it would be too scary for beginners to wear a big realistic tail. They're beautiful to look at, but I wait till I can swim properly with a monofin, then try the tricks, then if i want to, invest in a proper tail. That will take years I think! But it will be fun!

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Aino Revontuletar View Post
    I am thinking they would be extremely cumbersome and impractical for dry events, not to mention sweaty and uncomfortable when out of the water. And since I am wanting to do dry events in my tail...yeah. Neoprene and sequins it is for me, at least for now. A silicone tail is still on the agenda as a future project though
    They are really uncomfortable for dry events! Two hours is my max for sitting dry in a tail before it really starts to get unbearable....they're very hot! The monofin in my first tail is a foil and it makes my feet ache because of the weight of the fluke too. I'm planning on making a hybrid neoprene/silicone tail soon just for dry events!

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Jessica View Post
    They are really uncomfortable for dry events! Two hours is my max for sitting dry in a tail before it really starts to get unbearable....they're very hot! The monofin in my first tail is a foil and it makes my feet ache because of the weight of the fluke too. I'm planning on making a hybrid neoprene/silicone tail soon just for dry events!
    Yeah. That just sounds nasty, hahaha. A neoprene/ silicone hybrid for dry events sounds like a good compromise. I can imagine even neoprene being very uncomfortable if the weather is even slightly hot. But I shall see once I make my neoprene/sequin tail. I think it will be a good place to start.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Undisclosed Pod PearlieMae's Avatar
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    For strictly dry events, you might even consider spandex and sequins! Or, if you want silicone realism, make silicone scales like I am for my full silicone tail, and tacking them just at the top of each scale to a spandex tail with a dot of silicone, and maybe dots of silicone to hold them down. As a veteran of dozens of mermaid parades, you ready want air circulation! Also, you can make a fluke from much lighter materials, like plastic placemats, or wire frames and chiffon...since you don't have to worry about swimability, you can get really creative with materials.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by PearlieMae View Post
    For strictly dry events, you might even consider spandex and sequins! Or, if you want silicone realism, make silicone scales like I am for my full silicone tail, and tacking them just at the top of each scale to a spandex tail with a dot of silicone, and maybe dots of silicone to hold them down. As a veteran of dozens of mermaid parades, you ready want air circulation! Also, you can make a fluke from much lighter materials, like plastic placemats, or wire frames and chiffon...since you don't have to worry about swimability, you can get really creative with materials.
    Those are excellent ideas! After I have made my first neoprene tail I might have to start a non- swimmable dry event tail project!

  13. #13
    Even neoprene/silicone tail hybrids get HOT! haha! You have to be prepare to sweat a little in dry events ;D haha!

  14. #14
    Hey, this may be the one time my anemia works to my benefit!

    I'm always cold anyways.... Lol (even in my neoprene tail, I still felt I was cold)
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  15. #15
    Senior Member Pod of Cali spottedcatfish's Avatar
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    While a silicone tail looks gorgeous, for recreational mermaiding just sticking with a neoprene tail or fabric one makes more sense. You learn everything about being a mermaid, and then if you want to take it one step further and advance your mermaiding experience, you can go more realistic with silicone. Personally though I am interested in trying the process of molding with silicone, and gaining more knowledge about how it works as a material. It will be an expensive pursuit but I would feel more knowledgeable about the material if I ever did decide to get a silicone tail in the future.

  16. #16
    Don't forget you don't need a silicone tail to go pro, either

  17. #17
    Senior Member Pod of Cali spottedcatfish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aino Revontuletar View Post
    Don't forget you don't need a silicone tail to go pro, either
    Exactly, and if you have a silicone tail does not mean you are "pro" either. Remember: The tail does not make the mer, the mer must make their tail ( and whatever material it is made out of) come to life, if they chose to do so.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by spottedcatfish View Post
    Exactly, and if you have a silicone tail does not mean you are "pro" either. Remember: The tail does not make the mer, the mer must make their tail ( and whatever material it is made out of) come to life, if they chose to do so.
    Well said!

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by spottedcatfish View Post
    The tail does not make the mer, the mer must make their tail ( and whatever material it is made out of) come to life, if they chose to do so.
    Last edited by Mermaid Adriel; 03-19-2014 at 02:16 PM.
    (Formerly known as Mermaid Claudia)

  20. #20
    Senior Member North Pacific Pod Miyu's Avatar
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    I have the opportunity of getting a silicone tail rather soon, but that doesn't mean I'm skipping straight past fabric and neoprene - it's more that there is a special opportunity there, I won't pass it up just because I'm not fully trained yet. I don't plan on doing much swimming in silicone just yet (unless when I try it on in water it's super-amazingly life-changing or something, but those are rare cases and I'm not counting on it).

    I would have two fabric tails for practice and such done already, but I've discovered my small machine only does straight stitch! Now it's a dilemma of trying to sew it by hand, or try to quickly sew it when I visit Morticia :P I do plan on using only fabric tails for training - I was not very exposed to the water as a kid, and I've never had to do such athletic swimming! So I will take it easy on myself while training until I feel comfortable in my ability, and even then I'll probably just jump up to neoprene first.

    Splashing around in the shallow end with the kiddos, now that's a different story. I'll pull out the silicone tail for that and dry events while I become a stronger swimmer. I know, you all have already said silicone tails are hot and uncomfortable... For the awesome, amazing special kids I want to do visits with, the discomfort is more than worth the looks of joy and the ability to bring a little magic into their lives

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