From beauty magazines to sultry hair commercials, one thing’s for sure: we all want the volume we see in print or on screen, and a quality hair mousse can help you get there.
As someone who loves testing all the hair products lined on beauty counter shelves (read: best hair straighteners we reviewed and best shampoos we reviewed), I decided to take a leap of faith and learn about hair mousses.
Sure, I’ve seen them and used them sporadically, but I never knew exactly how. I knew the basics — they typically boast a foam-like texture and are known for lifting your roots a bit to provide that coveted volume — but I decided to research top brands, call in products for testing and interview a hairstylist for the 411.
“Hair mousse is a weightless styling product for full bodied volume, root lift and plumping strands that feel soft to the touch,” Amy Abramite, creative director and hairstylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago, told the New York Post. “Big volume blowouts will benefit from mousse from thickened density when applied from roots to the ends and dried with a round brush for a long lasting blowout.”
More, it also boosts waves and curly textures when air dried or used with a diffuser without being stiff, sticky or crunchy. Abramite provides more hairstyling expertise in our in-depth FAQ section.
How we tested
Before diving into the review criteria New York Post Shopping set in place when testing and trying all the top hair mousses on the market for at least two weeks, l’ll begin by detailing my hair type. Naturally, I have wavy to curly hair that’s sometimes prone to frizz (though, it has its oily moments at times if I go longer than two days without a wash). My hair blow dries straight when styling, too.
Simply put, my mane is a mutt of different types and textures — making my hair one of the best to review a wide set of hair mousses for volume, lift and salon-worthy results.
Ahead, here’s what I looked for when trying out each hair mousse:
- Consistency: This has to be one of the most important factors when selecting a quality hair mousse. Is it too watery? Is it too dense? Ideally, you’ll want a lightweight and airy formula to work from root to tip.
- Scent and freshness: The last thing you’ll want to find in a hair mousse is a foul odor or ‘dirty’ feel when applying. I took this into account while testing.
- End result (volume & lift): Naturally, this is what discerns an excellent hair mousse from the rest. I took note of how full and shiny each one made my hair — depending on the brand — and how long my blowout lasted.
Best Hair Mousses We Reviewed
1. Virtue Volumizing Hair Mousse for Fine Hair, $38
If we could place a crown on a particular hair mousse for the best overall, it would be Virtue’s Volumizing Hair Mousse for Fine Hair. It has the perfect whipped consistency that wasn’t too dense nor too light (and, it smells like your best salon trip ever).
After styling my hair, I noticed my blowout had vivacious lift and bounce. It’s also super long-lasting, allowing my style to remain virtually unmoved for three days straight. More, it helped add shine to my hair, thanks to its signature Alpha Keratin 60ku blend that’s color-safe, paraben-free, gluten-free and vegan. It’s the whole package.
2. amika Plus Size Perfect Body Mousse, $30
I’ve been a long fan of amika’s products for a while (read: amika Blow-Dryer Brush review). Not only does the brand carry some of the freshest scents (gorgeous packaging aside) but its Plus Size Perfect Body Mousse had a hydrating, almost creamy consistency that’s perfect if you have dry or damaged hair.
Wonderfully, this mousse is vegan and great for volumizing your look. With a few shakes, a little of this product goes a long way.
3. Bumble and bumble Curl Mousse, $32
One word: wow. The way Bumble and bumble’s Curl Mousse helped shape, elevate and add shine to my naturally wavy hair was impeccable. With a fresh scent, this cruelty free formulation was extremely airy and lightweight too, allowing myself to work the product into my hair seamlessly.
Additionally, it’s jam-packed with avocado, coconut and jojoba — a trifecta of rich oils, in addition to cocoa and shea butter, that even helped to mitigate frizz.
4. Kristin Ess Instant Lift Volumizing Mousse with Castor Oil, $15
I’ve been using Kristin Ess hair products for years, namely because it’s an affordable beauty brand at Target. Its Instant Lift Volumizing Mousse with Castor Oil is an impressive styling product for $15, too, thanks to its creamy mousse and hydrating nature.
While the mousse wasn’t as airy as others tested, it’s wonderful for medium to thick hair types and worked quite well on my fine to medium hair. You’ll also appreciate its lasting hold and attention to body-building.
5. Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Clinical Densifying Styling Mousse, $36 to $38
Say hello to a premium beauty brand that should be on your radar: Alterna. Its Caviar Anti-Aging Clinical Densifying Styling Mousse is top-notch, feels as light as a cloud and is super buildable, working well for fine to thick hair textures alike.
If you’re looking for an excellent product line that helps target hair growth, this is the one for you. After frequent use, I noticed that it helped strengthen my hair, leaving it naturally thick and healthy.
6. Drybar Southern Belle Volume-Boosting Mousse, $29
With a name I can’t help but love (Southern Belle, for high-to-the-sky, Texas-style hair), the Drybar Southern Belle Volume-Boosting Mousse is an iconic formulation to add to your hair-styling collection. It’s the best I found for giving your hair that much-needed lift, too — indicating that this product lives up to its name, and lives up to its name well.
Though its pump can tend to dispense product in a messier fashion than most, it’s not a deal-breaker, especially considering how effective the product is on my hair.
7. AG Care Cloud Air Light Volumizing Mousse, $28
Truth be told, I initially thought the AG Care Cloud Air Light Volumizing Mousse was a blow-out gel. It’s consistency is unlike any I tested (it’s truly light as a cloud!) and helped revitalize my naturally wavy hair’s texture. It’s also one of the best for smoothing your hair and giving it shine, perfect for the gals who suffer from frizzy hair.
In an easy-to-use pump, this naturally derived formula contains natural corn starch and sugar cane extract, so your hair will feel sweet and healthy with each use.
8. Living Proof Full Thickening Mousse, $30
Living Proof has been a standout in the haircare space for years, and its Full Thickening Mousse is no exception. Notably, it smells like your most refreshing citrus drink and is one of the easiest to blend into your hair. Just keep in mind that it has somewhat of a sticky residue on your fingers after using, but it’s not a deal-breaker.
You’ll see wonderful volume and shine, too, which makes this product worth the money. Not to mention, a little goes a long way.
9. Moroccanoil Volumizing Mousse, $30
Want to smell like a tropical resort? Moroccanoil has you covered with its Volumizing Mousse. Much like its assortment of hair products, it has a luxurious scent that’s packed with argan oil to give your locks a bit of an antioxidant and vitamin E boost.
Be sure to note that while this product was effective on my hair, it was more dense than some others tested. That said, use with caution if you have finer or straighter hair.
10. Oribe Grandiose Hair Plumping Mousse, $39
The Oribe Grandiose Hair Plumping Mousse is worth the splurge, and I can’t stress that enough. It has the most unique whipped consistency, smells like a dream and helps maintain your hair’s natural bounce and shine.
It’s also the hair mousse that makes me feel like I stepped out of a five-star salon, and for that, it’s surely worth every penny. Trust me, you won’t regret this purchase, and it’s one I consistently reach for, too.
11. Not Your Mother’s Curl Talk Refreshing Curl Foam, $7 to $9
For a budget pick, try the Not Your Mother’s Curl Talk Refreshing Curl Foam. Though marketed for curly hair, I found that it worked quite well with my wavy hair. Not to mention, it’s wonderful to pair with its dry shampoo for impressive volume (one of the best I tested, too).
12. PATTERN Curl Mousse, $20
I’ve always wanted to try PATTERN, and I’m so glad its Curl Mousse became a staple in my haircare routine. Its stunning packaging is one thing, but its lightweight foam is another.
Uniquely, it’s crafted from marshmallow root and castor oil, likely why it’s a luscious, marshmallow-soft texture in your fingertips. It also helps cancel out dry scalp, I’ve noticed, and is especially fitting for those who want to preserve their curls or have thicker hair.
An FAQ on Hair Mousses
Ahead, Abramite gives us the 411 on all things hair mousses: what to look for, how to apply, how often to use and more.
What are the benefits of hair mousse?
Of course, when using any hair product, it’s important to understand its benefits. Luckily, our expert simply explains the array of green flags that most hair mousses bring to light.
“Mousse benefits include body and volume, root lift, curl activation, strand density, and frizz control to keep hair soft and moisturized with heat protection,” Abramite told The Post.
What to look for in a hair mousse for every hair type, according to an expert
Each texture will benefit from a volume boost, root lift and extra bounce.
“Fine straight hair will benefit from a long lasting style that won’t weigh hair down,” she explains. “Wavy, curly and coily textures will benefit from curl activation and control without frizz.” More, all textures will feel soft and be protected from heat styling.
What’s the difference between hair mousse and hair foam?
While both terms can be interchangeable, there is a difference.
“Mousse has a consistency of shaving cream and expands into a firm, lightweight ball when dispensed,” Abramite explains. “Styling foam is similar, but is watery like a foaming hand soap, and takes no shape when pumped into your palm.”
How to apply hair mousse, according to an expert
First, dispense a golf ball to orange-sized amount of mousse into your palm of depending on hair length and density. Using fingers, work mousse into clean damp hair evenly from scalp to your ends.
“Hair can air dry or be diffused with a dryer to define the shape of the curls for bouncy frizz free texture,” Abramite adds. “Another option is to blow dry hair with a round brush for a full bodied style with lightweight bounce.”
Is mousse better with dry or wet hair?
Mousse is more effective on wet hair to build body and get root lift with a blowdryer on straight hair, per Abramite.
“The dampness also reactivates the shape of curl and keeps it intact for separation and less frizz on curly textures,” she adds.
How much hair mousse should I apply?
According to Abramite, a healthy amount to begin with is a golf ball size on fine hair and a pouf the size of an orange on thicker hair.
“Be sure the roots through the ends are saturated for even results,” she advises.
What to look for in a mousse for thin and thick hair alike, according to an expert
On fine thin hair, a weightless formula with thermal protection will keep stands healthy through the heat styling session while remaining plump.
“Thick coarse textures tend to need a humidity resistant formula with a stronger hold for a long lasting style without frizz,” Abramite notes.
How often should I use a hair mousse?
Mousse can be used as often as you style your hair and works best on damp hair. It has even distribution down the hair strands when it’s wet and clean, too.
“A volumizing shampoo and conditioner will prep hair best for maximum fullness before adding mousse for styling,” Abramite adds. “If the mousse needs a stronger hold, it can be mixed with a gel for longer lasting definition. If it’s too crunchy or stiff, a leave-in conditioner or oil can be added to soften the hold for a lightweight effect.”
Check out the New York Post Shopping section for more content.