The 80s gave mousse a bad rap. When you think of mousses, it probably conjures images of crunchy, big bouffants, or puffy crimped locks. But I’m here to tell you the mousse of the 2020s has changed drastically from its forebears. The modern mousse can do it all: define, volumize, hydrate, and condition, all without leaving your curly hair feeling heavy or stringy. To find the best mousse for wavy hair, I scoured the web for 6 of the most rave-worthy recommendations.
Hair Mousse 101: A Buying Guide to Mousses for Wavy Hair
6 Reasons Why You Should Use Mousse on Wavy Hair
If you’re still on the fence about using a mousse, here are the amazing benefits that come with using it for wavy hair.
- Easy to use
Don’t be daunted by the almighty mousse. It’s such a fuss-free product. You only need a small amount for it to work wonders. Rub a dollop of mousse into your roots then distribute the remnants to the tips of your hair.
- Revives your curls
Sometimes, you only need to enhance your natural asset, in this case, your beautiful curls! A mousse defines your waves so it doesn’t hang limply in the background. It refreshed and gives your coils a lift so they stand out, just the way they should.
- Va-va-voom volume
Since it’s a creamy yet aerated product, a mousse won’t weigh your curls down, unlike a gel or serum. It volumizes your curls and makes them feel soft without leaving residue, gunk, or greasy. A good mousse will never make your strands feel crunchy.
- Weightless hold
You can achieve intricate hairstyles like braids and updos with the help of a hair mousse. It locks in those tresses sans hairspray so your ‘do stays put all day and night.
- No more frizz
Want to tone down those frizzies and keep static at bay? Mousse is your answer! It can make your natural tendrils smooth and polished without feeling sticky.
- Versatile multitasker
Mousses are a workhorse product because they do several things at once. They define, moisturize, lift, and volumize, all in one bottle. That’s better for your hair because it doesn’t have to deal with so much product, which only leads to more grease and heaviness on your curls.
How do you choose the best mousse for wavy hair?
Are you convinced yet? If you’re raring to it out and see the results for yourself, here are the top things to consider when buying a mousse for wavy hair.
First and foremost, consider what type of hair you have and what your needs are.
Wavy hair needs definition but it also needs bounce to make the curls look full-bodied. Frizz is another concern wavy-haired gals have so you may want to get a mousse that targets unwanted puffing.
If your hair is fine or thin, you’ll need a mousse with a lot of lift and less moisturizing effects.
If your hair is damaged or dry, then you’ll need a mousse that’s the opposite, something that will quench your locks so it looks more vibrant. Key ingredients include coconut oil, argan oil, and other emollients.
If you have oily hair, you don’t need to avoid mousse. Just choose a mousse that can mop up excess sebum from your scalp and strands. Usually, these products will contain alcohol.
Women with colored hair or highlights should look for a gentle, color-safe formula that won’t wash out their hair’s hues.
For particularly damaged or vulnerable locks, get a mousse that has UV and heat protection and conditioning ingredients that restore the health of your hair.
Whatever your wavy hair type is, a lightweight mousse is the best option. You can also pick a gel-mousse combo for more hold without the heaviness. Light mousses won’t drag your curls down, which makes them look more stringy and undefined.
Mousses can come in different forms and these have their own advantages. You can choose from cream, spray, or gel.
Spray mousses are volumizing. They give the roots a lift so hair looks more bodacious.
A mousse with a gel form is suited for curly and wavy hair. This type is thicker than the spray counterpart.
A cream-based mousse is the thickest kind and is best for parched and hard to manage hair. This type is quite heavy on the hair as it’s filled with emollients.
Ingredients to Consider
What to look for
A hair mousse is made up of water, alcohol, and polymers. A polymer is what gives a mousse its hold. It moisturizes the hair so the cuticle lays flat, lending a smooth and shiny appearance to the strands.
Other moisturizing ingredients include jojoba oil, olive oil, and shea butter.
If you have sensitive skin, look for natural ingredients such as aloe vera, neem, hibiscus, coconut milk, and fruit and plant extracts.
If you have very dry hair, glycerin is an effective humectant, which means it draws water from the air into the hair surface.
What to avoid
When reading through the ingredients list of a mousse, you’ll often encounter parabens and sulfates. These are completely safe ingredients.
Parabens preserve the product so it has a longer shelf life and resists contamination. Sulfate is a cleansing agent that imbues a product with a satisfying lather that lifts dirt and oils. However, some people don’t respond well to these products, particularly if they have sensitive skin.
Try to avoid products with excessive fragrance, especially synthetic ones, because these are often very drying. Mousses with an alcohol-based formula are perfectly fine as well but look for one with a lower alcohol content because this ingredient is drying, as well. It can also make hair feel crunchy.
A mousse should have a non-sticky feel that dries down without leaving residue. Your hair should still feel soft after applying a good mousse as if there’s little or no product.
As always, consider your budget. There are a plethora of mousses in the market and the price range is extensive. On the low end, there are mousses that cost below $10. Luxury or salon products can go upwards of $20 to $40.
What’s the best way to use mousse on wavy hair?
Mousse works best on clean and damp hair but it can also be applied on dry hair that needs hold and shine.
Prepare your hair by shampooing it well. Then, air dry with a towel and detangle your hair with a comb. Your hair should be mostly damp at this stage.
Apply a small amount of mousse, to start. To gauge how much mousse you need for your hair, use a golf ball as your guide. A golf ball-sized amount is enough for medium-length hair. Adjust the amount accordingly if you have long or short locks.
Distribute the mousse on the crown and visible parts of the hair, including the tips. Next, flip your hair over and rub another small amount of mousse into the remaining strands underneath.
After that’s done, place a bigger dollop of mousse on your palm (larger than what you’ve squeezed or sprayed out previously). Don’t press down on the foam on your hand.
Place your open palms on the ends of the hair. In a scrunching motion, lift the tips towards the scalp. Make sure you cover the entire head, including the curls on the sides.
Next, blow dry your hair using a diffuser attachment. Use an upward motion to define curls and add volume. Brush out the dried curls with your fingers or a brush. Voila, you’ve got full-bodied, lush curls. Way to go, you!
The 5 Best Mousses for Wavy Hair
SheaMoisture – Coconut & Hibiscus Frizz-Free Curl Mousse
The SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Frizz-Free Curl Mousse is a mousse that will define your curls and imbue your locks with shine.
It’s the best mousse for a mane that needs a dose of moisture. It contains oils and humectants that condition the hair and reduce frizz. The ingredient list includes keratin, olive oil, glycerin, silk protein, and a proprietary essential oil blend from Shea Moisture.
The key features are coconut oil and hibiscus. Coconut oil gives intensive moisture and prevents breakage that comes from overdried or heat-styled hair. Neem oil is a shine enhancer that wards off frizz so your curls look enhanced and smooth. Shea butter detangles and strengthens parched wavy hair so curls become bouncier and fuller.
Despite these potently moisturizing oils and butters, the mousse has a lightweight formula. It doesn’t feel crunchy or sticky. It won’t leave residue on your strands. It makes wavy hair feel soft.
The SheaMoisture curl mousse is made without sulfates and is safe to use on color-treated hair. It has a faint coconut fragrance, too, which reminds me of a tropical vacation.
Whether you have loose waves or tight coils, this will leave your hair looking fab.
This product should be used with a light hand because overuse can lead to that dreaded crunchy feeling. It comes in a spray form and is perfect for pairing with curlers, hot rods, and braided hairstyles.
Because this curl mousse contains emollients, it’s not good for fine or thin hair. It will weigh the curls down. Some users also found that the pump can be a bit finicky to use. While it’s not a drugstore price point, the mousse is affordable and contains a lot of product (7.5 oz).
- A spray mousse for parched wavy hair
- Enhances curls and reduces frizz
- Doesn’t feel crunchy or sticky
- Safe for colored hair
- Contains coconut and neem oil, shea butter, keratin, hibiscus, and silk protein
- Too heavy for fine or thin hair
- The pump mechanism is a bit inconvenient to use, according to some users
OGX Locking + Coconut Curls Decadent Creamy Mousse
The OGX Creamy Mousse is truly a decadent mousse for wavy hair. It’s made with nourishing coconut oil and shea butter for healthy, hydrated locks.
It has a unique foam-cream formula that gives you the best of both worlds. It ups your hair’s moisture levels while locking it in place.
The mousse is creamy yet lightweight. It defines curls and banishes frizz so your curls stand out. Flyaways are no match for this mousse, either.
It has a stronger than average hold, perfect for coarse locks that need to stay volumized all day and night. However, don’t worry, it doesn’t flake or clump on when it dries. Your hair will still feel touchably soft and look visibly smoother.
Another thing I like about this mousse is its sweet scent. It’s infused with the sweet musk of jasmine. The fragrance is pleasing but not overpowering. That’s a plus for you and your wavy hair–you will look and smell good!
If you have a problem with frizz, this curl-enhancing mousse can tone those stray hairs down but it won’t completely eliminate them, especially if you live in a humid climate. I find this is better for curl definition.
- A cross between foam and cream that gives equal parts moisture and hold
- Doesn’t feel heavy
- Great for curl definition and reducing frizz and flyaways
- The hold is quite strong but it doesn’t flake
- Has a light and pleasant scent
- Not the best mousse for eliminating frizz completely, especially if it’s humid
amika – Plus Size Volume & Body Mousse
If your curls are looking lifeless, it’s time to give it a boost. This mousse for wavy hair is just the thing to bring body back to your locks. It gets top-notch marks for volume and hold. It’s a volumizing mousse that helps you fake full-looking locks.
The amika Volume and Body Mousse has a whipped texture that’s satisfyingly creamy and lightweight. Applying it is easy as it absorbs well. It contains polymers that give you all-day hold, good if you’re looking to try updos, braids, and hairstyles that need to stay in place.
The main ingredient in this volumizing mousse is sea buckthorn berry. It’s a natural source of vitamin C, A, and E, as well as omega-7. This combo stimulates collagen production for healthier hair. It helps protect your hair from UV rays, free radicals, and pollutants.
Despite its nutrient-rich composition, sea buckthorn softens hair. This ensures the mousse won’t feel heavy, stiff, or crunchy.
It contains dimethicone that protects your hair from thermal damage and seals the cuticle for a shinier look. It also prevents moisture loss and reduces frizz.
Some users have noted that they ended up with flakes when they applied the mousse to the roots. They also found that the spray mechanism doesn’t work well because the mousse comes more like a liquid than a foam.
- A volumizing mousse that gives day-long hold for wavy hair
- Has a creamy whipped texture
- Polymers give your hair long-lasting hold
- Contains nutrient-dense sea buckthorn berry
- Protects hair from heat and moisture loss
- A few users have said that this hold mousse flakes up on them
- The spray bottle needs to be improved
Oribe Curl Shaping Mousse
This mousse for curly hair is specially made for types 2 to 3 hair. It’s good for all types of wavy hair from loose curls to tightly coiled or zig-zag tendrils.
The Oribe styling mousse defines, moisturizes, and adds soft hold. It has a sulfate-free formula that’s safe to use on color and keratin-treated hair. And if you want to revive sagging curls, this mousse will do the trick. It will keep your ringlets happy.
It has that no-product feel so it won’t weigh your hair down. It keeps your wave pattern defined and clump-free and adds a healthy shine.
This is the best mousse for wavy-haired gals who want a wash and wear product because it doesn’t require a lot of finesse to get great results. Some users even say the volume and definition they get from this styling mousse lasts until day two or three, which reduces constant touchups or regular washing. And it doesn’t hurt that this mousse smells fantastic.
The mousse is not good for very dry curly hair because it’s not moisturizing. The price point is also quite steep. It does look and feel luxurious (the green bottle is stunning on a shelf) and for some people, this hair product may be worth the splurge.
- A mousse made for type 2 and 3 wavy hair
- Color-safe and sulfate-free with a pleasant scent
- Defines curls without weighing them down
- Adds shine and locks in curly hair
- Easy to use with long-lasting results
- It’s expensive
- Not a moisturizing product
BIOLAGE Styling Whipped Volume Mousse
Styling your hair regularly can affect your curl pattern if you don’t protect your locks. Exposing your hair to the elements and UV rays can also dampen your natural curl. If you want a mousse that volumizes and protects your curly hair, you may like this Biolage Voume Mousse.
The mousse has a whipped texture that’s easy to apply and almost melts into the strands. It has a lightweight formula, too, so it won’t weigh your curls down. This volumizing mousse is also suitable for thin or fine hair. It has a product-free feel and leaves your curly hair looking fuller with plenty of bounce.
This volumizing mousse is no slouch at keeping your hair in place either. It has a medium hold that won’t feel stiff or crunchy.
It’s a great complement to your flat iron or curling wand because it protects against damage and breakage. It contains a blue agave nectar infusion which locks in moisture into the strands. It’s best used as a hair primer before styling because of its protective properties.
The mousse doesn’t contain parabens or artificial colorants.
It helps reduce frizz and smells good but not in an intrusive way.
If you’re looking for a moisturizing mousse, this isn’t the best choice. It can leave locks feeling a bit withered and exacerbate existing dryness. Some users have also complained that this product leaves a bit of residue and feels sticky.
- A volumizing mousse for curly hair that needs more body
- Has a lightweight whipped texture that’s easy to apply
- Has a medium to strong hold without the crunch
- Good as a hair primer before heat styling
- Contains blue agave nectar which retains moisture in the hair
- Not for moisturizing curly hair and can even leave hair dry
- Some users say the volumizing mousse leaves a sticky residue on the hair
These are the best curly hair products for definition, volume and moisture.
My favorite is the Oribe Curl Shaping Mousse. It will not let you, and your curls, down. I like that it’s specially formulated for wavy and curly hair types. It’s so easy to apply and you don’t have to be a styling genius to get great, natural-looking results.
This is safe for color-treated hair and comes in a sleek green bottle. It adds moisture and shine and keeps your natural curls in place.
There are no significant downsides to this hair product, except that it’s quite expensive. But if you want the best mousse for your waves, you will love it.
Leah WilliamsLeah Williams is the founder of Lucky Curl and has been in the hair care and styling industry for the last 15 years. Since then, she has developed incredible expertise and a deep understanding of how to treat and style the most difficult hair types and is passionate about sharing her knowledge with the readers of Lucky Curl.
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