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When it comes to adding volume and body to curly, there are plenty of hair styling tools and curly hair products we can use. But there’s one in particular, especially if you want to add definition to your curls, that we must talk about: hair mousse.
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Hair mousse is a hair styling foam with a light, airy texture that enhances your natural wave pattern for a bit of volume throughout your hair. Many people with wavy or fine hair prefer a lighter hair mousse or foam to a heavier hair gel or cream that could weigh down strands and cause the scalp to look greasy faster.
According to celebrity hairstylist Annagjid “Kee” Taylor, hair mousse adds volume and definition to curly hair while also keeping hair frizz-free. “Mousse is a multi-purpose hair product that you shouldn’t be hesitant to use, especially if you want to add texture, definition, and longevity to your style,” says Taylor. It’s suitable for all hair types, but is particularly helpful for those with fine hair, as it adds volume to normally lifeless hair. New York City-based hairstylist Alan David notes that mousse adds a protective barrier between your hair cuticle and natural elements.
Top Mousses and Foams for Curly Hair of 2022
How to use hair mousse
The best way to apply mousse or foam is fairly simple. After washing your hair with shampoo for curly hair and conditioner, Taylor says that mousse is typically applied to towel-dried hair for better definition and hold. You can still apply mousse to dry hair, but she explains that it should mostly be saved for touch-ups. For curly hair type 3 or 4 hair, she advises detangling first and spritzing a leave-in conditioner for a boost of hydration before putting on any mousse.
Next, you’ll want to be sure not to use an excessive amount of hair mousse. Taylor explains that too much product will cause curls, coils, and waves to crunch. She says all you need is just a golf-sized amount of mousse to work into hair. (You’ll also want to make sure you don’t flatten the foam’s airiness). After sectioning hair off, she suggests working slowly through each one. Gently scrunch product up toward your scalp starting from the nape of the neck — or mid-shaft if you have curlier hair — to get that volume. Then scrunch the ends of your hair towards the scalp. Once you’re done, move onto the next hair section until you’re finished.
The final step is what Taylor calls the “rake through.” This is when you use your fingers to lightly comb the mousse through your hair to distribute it evenly. You can also use a wide-tooth comb, or a Denman brush if you have naturally curly hair, to make sure that curls are detangled and smooth. Then take your hair dryer with a diffuser attachment, flip your head over, and dry.
How to find the best mousse or foam for your curly hair
Taylor says the first step to selecting the correct hair mousse or foam is knowing what you want your final look to be. She explains that mousse can address a variety of hair styles: some are designed to make curls look sleek, others are formulated to make curls textured.
She also advises taking a look at the ingredients and to avoid harmful chemicals that might make your curls drier or more prone to breakage, like alcohol. Instead, look for nourishing ingredients, like shea butter and monoi oil, to keep curls strong and healthy.
With all that in mind, Taylor and David break down their favorite hair mousse and foam for every type of curly hair and desired style. Scroll down to find the right one for you.
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Oribe Grandiose Hair Plumping Mousse
Best mousse for flexibility
Taylor likes the Oribe Grandiose Hair Plumping Mousse due to a structure-forming starch polymer that gives curls extra volume with an impressive amount of flexibility. “This mousse’s luxurious poufs provide outstanding body and shape without a hint of crunch,” she says. It contains sunflower seed oil, glycerin, and vitamin E to condition and moisturize curls, plus a special complex that shields hair from environmental stressors.
Ouai Air Dry Foam
Best mousse for thick hair
“The best mousse for thick hair is something light and volumizing,” says David. “Girls with thick hair don’t always want much product in their hair unless you have curls with frizz.” For that reason, his pick is Ouai’s Air Dry Foam. He says ingredients like kale extract will leave you with super soft curls.
Living Proof Full Thickening Mousse
Best mousse for fine hair
Taylor says that those with fine or thin hair should use a hair mousse designed to add volume. (Pro-tip: she suggests using a volumizing shampoo before styling hair to give hair next-level fullness). She loves Living Proof’s Full Thickening Mousse because it “has a unique formula that gives fine hair the appearance of considerable volume.”
Amika Plus Size Volume & Body Mousse
Longest lasting mousse
“One of my favorites is the Amika Plus Size Volume & Body Mousse for its frothy, cushiony formula that is easy to apply, long lasting, and works on all types while giving hair a fuller appearance and feel,” says Taylor. She explains that it contains sea buckthorn berry extract, which will keep hair hydrated, soft, and light. It also has a non-sticky consistency, so you don’t have to worry about any lingering residue.
John Frieda Volume Lift Air-Whipped Foam
Best budget mousse for curly hair
If you’re on a budget, David suggests John Frieda Volume Lift Air-Whipped Foam. It’s a lightweight formula that gives hair body while still letting it be flexible. Perfect for fine hair, this will give you an instant boost in volume. Plus, it’s less than $6 and David says you can find it at all drugstores. “When I’m in need or forget to pack my go-to mousse,” he says. “I am always guaranteed to find a bottle of [it].”
OGX Locking + Coconut Curls Decadent Creamy Mousse
Best moisturizing mousse for curly hair
Taylor loves OGX’s Locking + Coconut Curls Decadent Creamy Mousse for its nourishing ingredients, like shea butter and coconut oil to give curls moisture and keep hair frizz-free. But don’t be fooled: it’s as lightweight as can be and still provides intense hydration without a crispy or hard finish. Your curls are guaranteed to be soft, shiny, and voluminous — all for less than $7.
Joico Power Whip Whipped Foam Mousse
Best curl defining mousse
Joico’s mousse is truly a workhorse: Moringa seed oil will keep hair hydrated while a flexible polymer will keep your curl pattern all day long. You can also expect up to 72 hours of protection from humidity and other environmental aggressors to keep hair frizz-free. Even better, it has a super smooth application and absorbs quickly and fully into strands.
SheaMoisture Curl Mousse
Best frizz-control mousse for curly hair
SheaMoisture is a go-to trusted brand for anything curly hair-related. This mousse contains shea butter for hydration, plus coconut and neem oil to control frizz — even in the most humid weather. Your curls will look springier and super shiny before you’re even finished styling them. As an added bonus, it’s formulated without silicone, sulfates, parabens, phthalates, mineral oil or petrolatum.
Not Your Mother’s Curl Talk Curl Activation Mousse
Best smoothing mousse
This vegan-friendly mousse from Not Your Mother’s does it all, from providing long-lasting humidity control to keeping hair smooth and flyaway-free to adding definition to your natural curl pattern. Your hair will feel bouncy, full and smooth — guaranteed.
Curlsmith Bouncy Strength Volume Foam
Best strengthening foam for curly hair
Taylor says that the Curlsmith Bouncy Strength Volume Foam is a great mousse for the curliest among us because it defines and enhances without weighing hair down. It also contains fortifying ingredients filled with proteins and amino acids, like hemp seed, rice protein, and a blend of superfoods to protect strands against split ends and hot tools. Because curly hair is prone to dryness and frizz, she suggests using only a modest amount for best results.
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Shu Uemura Awa Volume Mousse
Best mousse overall
David’s go-to mouse is the Shu Uemura Awa Volume Mousse. “It acts as a root lifter which helps me create the best volume to keep styles in place,” he says. “It also helps me achieve a silky finish after a blow dry with a brush with wood natural boar bristles.”
Nourish & Shine Foaming Curl Primer Hair Mousse
Best mousse for type 4 curls
Hydration is key for type 4 curls. This mousse from Nourish & Shine has glycerin to keep strands moisturized. It also contains sunflower oil and honey extract to keep curls intact and frizz at bay. It’s super lightweight and made without known drying and stripping ingredients like alcohol and butane.
Meet The Experts
Annagjid “Kee” Taylor: Kee is a bona fide curl wizard and the ultimate multi-hyphenate. She is the founder of Deeper Than Hair, a natural salon in Philadelphia, which is also the name of her natural hair care line and the author of All Hair Is Good Hair. In her spare time, she cuts videos for her YouTube channel with an audience of 1.31 million subscribers (!).
Alan David: Boston-born hairstylist, Alan David, has trained under some of the biggest names in the hair industry, starting with his very first job under Serge Normant at John Frieda, before joining The Plaza Hotel’s storied Warren Tricomi Salon. He’s famous for his super sharp, precise lines and blunt cuts. On weekends, he lets his creativity really flow at the Bushwick Brooklyn Salon, which is smack dab in the center of Brooklyn’s arty Bushwick neighborhood.