How to Use Hair Mousse Like a Pro


@tylauren / Design by Julie Bang

Mousse is a hard beauty product to pin down. Some say they use it for lift and volume, but isn’t that what a volumizing spray is for? Others swear by it for longer hold and style protection. The next question you ask, then, is why not use hairspray for that? What, you wonder as you shake your fists at the sky, is so special about mousse?

The answer is deceptively simple. Mousse is so special because it combines a number of styling benefits into a single, foamy formula. Take it from Aaron Grenia, the cofounder of IGK Hair, who loves mousse for providing “hold, style memory, lift, and bounce.” Tresemmé stylist Tyler Laswell feels similarly. “People should not be frightened of mousse,” he says. “Out of all of the products out there, mousse is the easiest product to use and the most versatile. Needless to say, but mousse is one of my favorite products.”

Keep reading to learn how and why you should be using mousse in your hair.

What is Mousse?

According to Grenia, “Mousse is usually in a thick foam form. It is typically applied from roots to ends, combed through hair, and blow-dried in.” There are great mousses available at every price point, and for every hair texture. Whichever style you ultimately go with will last longer and generally look better (thanks to your hair’s extra bounce, texture, and hold).

Softer curls can benefit from the definition provided by mousse, which will help your hair keep its shape instead of falling flat.

The Benefits of Using Hair Mousse

According to Tommy Buckett, Garnier consulting celebrity hairstylist, mousse can treat and protect your hair. “Gone are the days of mousse being stiff and drying! The new wave of mousse products can fight humidity, give hair shine and definition, and can even provide heat defense. He reaches for Garnier Fructis Pure Clean Styling Mousse since it “gives an all-day natural look without the crunch and sticky residue.” He also likes R + Co’s Aircraft Pomade Mousse, which he uses for “adding [piecey] texture to hair,” and Color Wow Correct and Perfect Mousse for diminishing brassy shades from colored hair.

The styles mousse can help create are as diverse as its hair benefits. “I use mousse on about 90 percent of the hairstyles that I create,” says Laswell. “I will layer it in with salt sprays to create that perfectly undone beach wave. I use it with rollers to create super-glam voluminous styles, and I will rough-dry it into the hair before I braid it so that there is some texture and the hair isn’t too slippery.” See? Mousse might replace your hairspray, volumizer, and texturizer spray; it’s that versatile. As for Laswell’s all-time favorite formulas? He’s never without one or two Tresemmé picks, including the 24 Hour Body With Volume Control Complex Amplifying Mousse. He's also a fan of the brand's Beauty Full Volume Touchable Bounce Mousse, though that item has been discontinued. “These are by far my favorite two mousses on the planet. I love them because they always give me the perfect amount of volume, hold, and control in my styles without being stiff or leaving buildup.”

How to Use Hair Mousse

  • “Try using [a mousse] on damp hair before you blow-dry, spraying at the root for extra lift," says Grenia. “It’s super easy to use so you can control the amount of power from the product.”
  • Dispense about a golf ball-sized amount of product into your hand.
  • Apply in sections, starting at the nape of the neck and working down.
  • Add more product to your hands and apply to the crown of the head in light strokes. Massage the scalp to work into the roots.
  • Brush out with a paddle brush.
  • "Once dry, use a flatiron to create waves," Grenia says. "Then, spray a light layer over the style and shake it out.”

Mousse vs. Curl Cream

While mousse is responsible for adding, hold, and texture, curl creams are all about moisture. If you have very dry and curly hair, you may want to reach for a curl cream, like Ouidad Advanced Climate Control Featherlight Styling Cream ($26). It uses meadowfoam seed, olive oil, and soybean oil, plus humectants, to hydrate and fight frizz.

Does Mousse Work For All Hair Types?

Mousse is "a very versatile product that can be used for all hair types, and it’s pretty foolproof,” says Buckett. This is because applying a tad too much mousse won't result in crunchy or limp hair (like so many other products). “Mousse’s soft, airy texture allows for liberal application but won’t leave you with too flat hair you can get from over applying a serum or cream,” says Buckett.

Whether your hair is curly, straight, or somewhere in between, you can benefit from mousse. Even those with fine hair shouldn't shy away from mousse—in fact, quite the opposite, it can add loads of volume to less naturally voluminous strands. The main thing you want to understand is whether your hair needs more moisture from its styling products, which can vary depending on the style or the day. Overall, very dry hair types might not reach for mousse as often.

The Takeaway

Mousse is an incredibly versatile hair product that you shouldn't be afraid to use, especially if you're trying to create texture, definition, and a long-lasting style. Most hair types can benefit from mousse, which acts as several styling products in one. Don't be afraid to apply it liberally!

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