- Hair mousse is a styling product that provides hold, bounces, lifts, defines curls, hydrates, fights humidity and frizz.
- There is a perfect hair mousse for every hair type, except for dry, curly hair.
- Hair mousse should be applied to damp (not wet or dry) hair in a tennis ball-sized amount.
Depending on your hair type, styling your hair can be quite challenging. There are so many different concerns, depending on your hair’s thickness and texture. From what hair mousse is to how to use it properly to style your hair, as well as the differences between hair mousse and other styling products, this is your ultimate guide to hair foam you don’t want to miss!
In this article:
- What Is Hair Mousse?
- Who Should Use Hair Mousse?
- Hair Mousse vs. Hair Gel vs. Hairspray
- Hair Mousse Benefits
- How to Use Hair Mousse
- Extra Tips for Using Hair Mousse
What Is Hair Mousse and What Does It Do?
With so many different types of hair styling products, it can seem overwhelming to figure out what makes each option different. How is hair mousse different from traditional hair spray or styling gel?
Hair mousse can seem like a confusing product, but it’s actually fairly straightforward. Also known as hair foam or styling foam, hair mousse is a styling product that combines multiple needs in one easy-to-use bottle, like providing hold, creating lift, and bouncing.
Hair mousse can also provide other benefits as well, like moisture and nutrient infusion for shine and definition, fight humidity, serve as a heat protectant, and offer style versatility. But hair mousse is best known for not creating product build-up – a common issue with traditional styling gels and hair sprays.
The composition of a hair mousse is alcohol, water, and active ingredients in an aerosol can, which gives it that lightweight foamy texture. Oils, polymers, and chemicals are also added to the formula to hydrate and add shine, to volumize and thicken, as well as to keep frizz at bay.
This multitasking product was first invented in France, and later brought to North America by L’Oreal in the 1980s. The original version was packaged usually in an aerosol foam spray or cream foam.
Thanks to the big hair trend of the ‘80s, hair mousse was a serious staple. While hairstyles have changed, volumizing mousse has continued to be a mainstay over the decades but has transitioned to offer a more flexible hold that’s not crunchy to the touch thanks to the modern alcohol-free formulas.
Who Should Use Hair Mousse?
The truth is, almost anyone can use hair mousse. There is a range of options that are designed for various hair types and textures. But hair foam isn’t a one size fits all affair.
Hair mousse, much like other hair care products, is often designed with specific hair types and textures in mind. As you can see in our roundup of the best hair mousses, we highlighted who is best served by each particular hair mousse. So, it’s always important to read the product description and confirm that the mousse you’re considering buying is designed for your hair in particular.
If you’re familiar with the hair typing system, you know that there are four core hair types. Type 1 is straight hair, type 2 is slightly wavy, type 3 is curly, and type 4 is kinky coily.
Likewise, there are multiple mousse weights. Some are billed as lightweight, whereas others are denser. Lightweight hair mousse is ideal for wavy and curly hair, whereas a denser formula is best for thinner or straight hair. Conditioning mousse is best for dry hair, while mousse gel is a hybrid product that provides great hold without looking as artificial as hair gel.
However, there are a few hair types that shouldn’t rely on hair mousse. Specifically, particularly parched curly hair that’s constantly in need of moisture should avoid hair mousse.
Note, though, that not everyone who’s naturally curly has a moisture problem. You’ll know that your hair is excessively dry because it will feel brittle and dry. And if this is the case for you, skip mousse and opt for the layering LOC (liquid, oil, cream) method to seal in moisture.
Hair Mousse vs. Hair Gel vs. Hairspray
Okay, so now you know what hair mousse is, but how exactly does it differ from other styling products? And is there a time where one option is better or worse than the other?
Hair mousse is the most versatile styling product, working for different hair types, textures, and lengths. It tames the frizz, defines curls, builds volume and thickness with a light hold. The only downside is that the hold it creates isn’t as long-lasting as the one you’ll get using styling gel or hairspray.
On the most obvious levels, hair gel is a jelly-like substance that is used to style hair. It’s wet to the touch and eventually dries when it comes into contact with air. It’s a thick substance but is easy to manipulate into your hair.
Gel typically offers a stronger hold as compared to hair mousse and is usually ideal for strategic hairstyles that require a sculpted or extremely defined look. However, depending on the hold level, hair gel can leave your hair with that telltale stiff look and feel. And if it’s not alcohol-free, you can experience product build-up by way of white flakes.
Hair pomade, styling wax, and hair cream are all similar to hair gel, used for defining, creating texture and body for a moisturized, long-lasting look.
Hairspray is a spray that is usually ideal for fixing or setting a style after you’ve finished manipulating your hair. It’s great for banishing flyaways or ensuring that waves and heat-styled curls stand the test of time throughout the day or evening. But daily use of hairspray can lead to serious product build-up that will require daily washing.
Reasons Why You Should Use Hair Mousse
If you’ve been struggling to properly style your tresses, it might be time to forget images of hard, crunchy 1980s-era mousse-styled hair and embrace the modern iteration of hair mousse. But if you still need more reasons for why mousse is truly your hair’s new BFF, keep reading.
• Because Hairspray Isn’t Always Effective
There’s nothing more frustrating than spraying your hair to the heavens only to walk outside and have it either fall flat or grow into an unwieldy cotton candy mass of curls. Hairspray is great, but it has limitations. Specifically, we’re talking about humidity. In contrast, hair mousse is better at fighting humidity and other forms of weather precipitation.
• For Curls That Are Defined – Not Slicked down
When you have curly hair, it can feel like you only have two choices, cotton candy or slicked down greasy hair. And if slicked-down hair is your thing, go for it with that hair gel. But if what you want is definition where you and everyone else can actually see your curl pattern, a good hair mousse that’s designed for curly hair is really the way to go. Mousse manages to hydrate and define each curl without weighing them down.
• Because You Want Volume That Moves
We get it, you don’t want to look like a 1980s throwback. So that means you want voluminous hair, but you also want for the wind to be able to blow through it for a photoshoot effect. A good volumizing mousse can check off both of those boxes by lifting at the roots, building bounce, keeping your hair touchably soft – and most importantly, weightless.
• Hair Mousse Tends to Be Goof-Proof
Assuming you don’t use half a can of mousse to style your hair, it’s pretty hard to mess up a hairstyle with hair mousse. As long as you follow the directions on the packaging, you can be confident that you’ll walk away with a hairstyle that looks exactly like you wanted it to.
• Added Benefits All in One Styling Product
If you’re the type that relies heavily on heat styling tools, a good hair mousse can provide heat protection and keep your tresses healthy no matter how you style your hair. And other benefits include moisture infusion, breakage prevention, and a wealth of other benefits that help to minimize the total amount of product you need to apply to your hair. And that also speeds up your daily beauty routine.
How to Use Hair Mousse Properly
You know what hair mousse is, what it isn’t, and why everyone should at least consider using it. But is there a right and a wrong way to use this multitasking hair care marvel? The tl;dr answer is yes, there are certainly right and wrong ways to use mousse. So, keep reading for quick dos and don’ts.
The basic steps of applying hair mousse are as follows:
- Shake the bottle and glaze a small amount of product on freshly washed damp hair, distributing it from root to tip.
- Add more product to the areas that didn’t get moussed up.
- Use your blow dryer diffuser to style curls and waves the way you like.
Always Start with Clean Hair
Unsurprisingly, just like everything else in beauty, you need to start with a clean base. Applying hair mousse on top of dirty hair is only going to lead to product build-up, which will impact your final style.
Don’t Use Too Much Product
The easiest way to go wrong with hair mousse is by using way too much product. Use too much, and you’ll be left with crunchy and stiff hair. Most people are fine with a tennis ball-sized amount. But those with longer or thicker hair can opt for a tad bit more. However, it’s always best to start with the tennis ball size and then add more if needed.
Damp – Not Wet – Hair Is Best
Mousse tends to work best on damp hair, so make sure to wring out any excess water. For best results, dry your hair with a T-shirt to prevent breakage.
Use the Right Blow Dryer Attachment
Regardless of whether you have straight, wavy, or curly hair, a blow dryer is a good way to set whatever style you’re attempting to achieve. No matter your hair type, don’t use a blow dryer without an attachment. If you have curly or wavy hair, invest in a good diffuser attachment that will dry your hair without disturbing your curl pattern. But straight hair should be dried with a concentrator nozzle to minimize the risk of frizz.
Note, though, that you can apply hair mousse to damp hair, let it air-dry, and still create great results that can be restyled throughout the day. But if you want a more structured style, blow-drying is the best option.
Keep Mousse at the Roots for Short Hair
For truly short hair, mousse can work to help lift your roots and create definition. Concentrate your mousse application at the roots with either your fingers or a wide-tooth comb.
Volumizing Long Hair with Hair Mousse
On wet hair, concentrate your hair mousse application to your roots. Be sure to use a volumizing mousse for the best results. Depending on how much time you have, you can methodically apply the mousse section by section or opt just to flip your head over and quickly spread it through your roots while your hair hangs down. After distributing the product, use a blow dryer with a concentrator nozzle. Focus on your roots to help build lift.
On wet hair, apply hair mousse evenly throughout your hair from root to tips. With a diffuser attachment, blow-dry your hair or opt to air-dry. Scrunch your hair with your hands to help set your curls.
Extra Tips for Using Hair Mousse
You might feel like a hair mousse pro after this article, but here are a few more tips and tricks to make you an expert.
Match Your Mousse to Your Hair Type
Like we mentioned earlier, all mousse products aren’t created equal. Many are designed for specific issues such as anti-humidity, or for specific hair types. Always confirm that the hair mousse you plan to buy is designed for your hair type and any specific hair concerns that you have.
Opt for an Opposite Side Part
Even if you always part your hair on the left, opt for a part on the right to help instantly lift your roots.
Be Careful with Mixing Styling Hold Products
If you’re already using a hair mousse, you might not need to also add a super-hold gel or a styling wax. But if you do decide to include them in your styling routine, be sparing with how much product you use. Adding too many styling products can easily leave you with stiff, crunchy hair with product build-up.
Don’t Apply Mousse to Dry Hair
Hair mousse works best on damp hair. If you try to apply it to dry hair, you’ll end up with flat, dull hair.
Photos via @joybeforeher, Instagram