A hallmark of the 80s, hair mousse, otherwise known as styling foam, has been making a comeback in recent years. The product is being revisited not for just its major volumizing properties, but for its ability to nourish and define a number of different hair types, most notably curly hair.
All types of curly hair can benefit from mousse. It hydrates damaged hair, plumps up curls, and gives you the soft, tumbling locks of your dreams. It is also great for using with natural coily hair to moisturize and strengthen the strands.
With so many different curly hair mousses available today, it can be hard to know which one will benefit your hair the most. Fortunately, we’ve gathered a list of the best mousses out there and broken down the benefits of each one, so you don’t have to. Read on to learn all about our favorite products.
- What You Need to Know About Hair Mousse
- Top 10 Best Hair Mousses for Curly Hair 2023
- 1. Best Overall Mousse: TIGI Catwalk Curls Rock Amplifier
- 2. Best Premium Mousse: John Frieda Frizz Ease Curl Reviver
- 3. Best Budget Mousse: Garnier Fructis Curl Construct Creation Mousse
- 4. Most Lightweight Mousse: Design Essentials Natural Curl Enhancing Mousse
- 5. Best Cream Mousse: OGX Locking Coconut Curls Decadent Creamy Mousse
- 6. Best Frizz-Fighting Mousse: OGX Quenching Coconut Curls Frizz-Defying Mousse
- 7. Best Defining Mousse: Got2b Kinkier Gloss 'n Define
- 8. Most Hydrating Mousse: Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus Curl Mousse
- 9. Best Scented Mousse: Aussie Sprunch Leave-in Conditioner and Mousse
- 10. Best Volumizing Mousse: DevaCurl Texture Foam
- Full Guide to Hair Mousse for Curly Hair
What You Need to Know About Hair Mousse
Before we dive into the top options available, let’s explore some of the must-know info about hair mousse, including what features to look for.
Why Use Hair Mousse?
Mousse is a fantastic multipurpose product that can work wonders on curly hair. There are multiple strengths of hold available, ranging from flexible to strong, and it creates lift and bounce in natural curls. It’s one of the easiest styling products to use on curls too – simply scrunch it into damp hair after a shower then air dry or diffuse. Plus, thanks to today’s updated formulas, most mousses won’t leave your hair feeling crunchy to the touch like they did during the days of “mousse mania.”
Mousse can be used on virtually any curl type and pattern (we discuss hair types more later), and usually have a combination of curl enriching, frizz-fighting ingredients, such as coconut oil and polymers. This makes it an easy styling solution to many of curly hair’s problems.
What to Look for in a Hair Mousse
There are certain things you want to look out for when shopping for a hair mousse. It’s important to keep in mind your hair type, curl patterns, and what type of style you are after to ensure you pick the product that fits you best.
Mousses can be blended with a variety of ingredients, natural or not, that help to strengthen curls and boost shine. Some of the more popular additions are coconut oil, shea butter, and essential oils, such as citrus oil.
If you have hair on the drier side, shea butter-based mousses will be more beneficial for you. For fine or thin hair, coconut oil will be light enough to give you curl definition without weighing down your hair.
Sometimes chemical ingredients such as silicones, parabens, and alcohols are added into mousse. If you are following the Curly Girl Method or want to support clean beauty products, keep an eye out for these ingredients so you can avoid them. A great option for a natural product is Shea Moisture’s hydrating mousse.
Texture is another important factor in buying a mousse. You want something that will work with your hair and not be too light or too heavy. Thicker, more coarse hair or coily hair can benefit more from a heavy textured mousse such as OGX Locking Coconut Curls. Fine hair, wavy hair, or thinner hair will have more luck with a lightweight mousse like Design Essentials.
Now that you’ve got the basics of hair mousse down, let’s look at the best ones for curly hair!
Top 10 Best Hair Mousses for Curly Hair 2023
1. Best Overall Mousse: TIGI Catwalk Curls Rock Amplifier
TIGI Catwalk Curls is formulated using a unique blend of essential oils and polymers. These polymers work to keep your hair strong with each use, and help protect your hair against humidity. This can be especially helpful if you live in a humid environment, because as we all know, humidity is not a curl’s best friend.
For anyone who wants a product that will last a long time, this mousse is the thing to have. A little goes a very long way and a small, palm-size amount will be just enough to style your hair. Make sure to work it through the roots to the end of your curls and follow up by scrunching to ensure your hair dries soft and smooth.
The overall texture of this product can be a little sticky. It does wash off of hands easily, but some might find a more lightweight product, such as Design Essentials more pleasant to use. It is also not the best product for very fine hair due to this texture; it has a tendency to weigh it down and create a less than appealing wet hair look.
- Polymers for strengthening hair
- Helps protect against humidity
- A little goes a long way
- Not good for thin hair
- Sticky texture
A professional brand that has been around for more than three decades, John Frieda knows a few things about styling curly hair. Their Frizz Ease Curl Reviver mousse boasts an alcohol-free formula that won’t dry out your hair. It also has added thermal protectants and UV filters so your hair can stand up to the heat of the sun.
This mousse is a great choice if you want salon quality results without actually visiting the salon – your curls will be healthy-looking and springy after one use and the mousse will hold your style in place throughout the day. You can also use this product before drying your hair with a diffuser for added bounce.
The fragrance in this mousse may be off-putting for some. It has a strong chemical overtone mixed with floral notes that you may not be interested in smelling on your hair all day. If scent is important to you, take a look at Aussie Sprunch Mousse instead.
- Alcohol-free formula
- Salon-quality hold
- UV filter to protect hair
- Unpleasant smell
3. Best Budget Mousse: Garnier Fructis Curl Construct Creation Mousse
Anyone with curly hair should consider switching to silicone free products. Silicones are a type of plastic; when used in hair products they are meant to coat hair and smooth it for a frizz-free look. But when you have curly hair, silicones can build up and weigh down your hair, making your curls appear lifeless. Thankfully, Garnier’s Curl Construct is both silicone and paraben free, so you can safely use it knowing your hair will retain its natural bounce.
The hold from this mousse is long-lasting. It’s a great choice if you need something to keep your curls tamed while you’re at work all day. It is also a super affordable product, so you don’t need to worry about overspending.
This product can be very drying on certain types of hair. If you already have dry hair or super coarse hair, you might want to stay away from this mousse. Instead, look into a mousse with a hydrating formula, such as Shea Moisture’s.
- Silicone and paraben free
- Long-lasting hold
- Dries out hair
4. Most Lightweight Mousse: Design Essentials Natural Curl Enhancing Mousse
Design Essentials is so lightweight it’s almost a foam. It has a medium hold and added wheat protein to improve hair strength. Almond oil is blended in to boost the natural shine of your curls. It is a great option for anyone with very coily or natural hair; the product can be used to enhance styles such as twist outs, wash and gos, and any kind of set style.
The formula is very quick-drying, which is essential for sealing in frizz. It is also very helpful if you don’t have a lot of time in the mornings to wait for your mousse to dry. You can simply apply this product and your hair will be styled in no time at all.
Design Essentials does contain silicones, and over time, it can feel like there is a film forming over your hair because of them. If you are following the Curly Girl Method (we talk more about this in our full guide later), you’ll know that products with silicones should be avoided. You can look back at our budget pick Garnier Curl Construct for a silicone free mousse.
- Quick-drying formula
- Almond oil for shine
- Wheat protein added for hair strength
- Great for coily, natural hair
- Leaves film over hair
- Contains silicones
5. Best Cream Mousse: OGX Locking Coconut Curls Decadent Creamy Mousse
You’ll fall in love with the rich texture of this product. Part curl styling cream and part mousse, OGX Locking Coconut Curls is a great option for when you need a little more intense help styling your curls. As your hair dries with this product in it, your curls or waves will appear shiny and defined. It will also make your hair feel super soft to the touch.
Shea butter is added into the formula to help your locks retain moisture. This also makes it a good choice for anyone with frizz caused by dry hair, because the mousse will work to repair this with every use. If you’re looking for extra frizz fighting power and love this brand, also check out OGX Quenching Coconut Curls.
Because it is part cream, the texture of this can be too heavy for some users, especially those with shorter or thinner hair. It can also make your scalp itchy with continued use. You may want to avoid this product if you have sensitive skin or a dry scalp.
- Cream-mousse hybrid
- Shea butter for hydration
- Leaves hair soft
- Heavy texture
- Can make scalp itchy
6. Best Frizz-Fighting Mousse: OGX Quenching Coconut Curls Frizz-Defying Mousse
If you’re looking for a mousse that can be used every day without weighing your hair down, OGX’s Quenching Coconut Curls is the product for you. It is lightweight enough for repeated use and doesn’t build up in your hair. It’s sure to leave your curls looking soft and bouncy every time.
The addition of coconut oil helps this mousse to tame frizz. This makes it perfect for anyone with curls that need serious smoothing out, or for anyone with coarse hair. The citrus oil in this product is great for soothing your scalp, which is very helpful if you have sensitive skin. Citrus oil can also help prevent further breakage in damaged hair.
The pump on the OGX Quenching mousse breaks very easily. You do need to be careful not to push on it too hard or the mechanism will break, leaving you without a good way to dispense the product.
- Great for everyday use
- Coconut oil to tame frizz
- Citrus oil to soothe scalp
- Pump breaks easily
7. Best Defining Mousse: Got2b Kinkier Gloss 'n Define
Got2b Kinkier’s Gloss ‘n Define mousse works on even the thickest of hair. It helps to separate the strands and form them into large, bouncy curls. It has a strong hold, so your hair will look good all day, and even stay styled into the next morning when using this mousse. This is a great choice for anyone looking for their curls to stay put, not matter what.
The curl defining formula works to bring out the best in any hair type. It’s formatted with double-curling power, so not only will it enhance your natural curls, it will make them appear more vibrant and moveable. This is a great choice for anyone looking to bring a dramatic look to their curls.
If you use a lot of this product on your hair, it can start to feel crunchy. The best way to avoid this is to work in a little at a time, instead of applying a handful of product all at once. This work around can be a little more time-consuming though. For a product that has no chance of leaving your hair feeling crunchy, look at the OGX Locking Coconut Curls mousse.
- Strong hold
- Super defined curls
- Great for thick hair
- Can make hair feel crunchy
8. Most Hydrating Mousse: Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus Curl Mousse
With a hydrating blend of coconut and neem oil, Shea Moisture’s mousse efficiently penetrates the hair follicle to moisturize and repair dry hair. The addition of silk protein helps to add elasticity to the hair, giving your curls that irresistible spring. This mousse is a great option for anyone with especially coarse, dry hair. It also works well with natural coily hair.
Shea Moisture is both paraben and sulfate free. It is a good natural option for those who prefer to purchase clean beauty products. The formula is color safe, so anyone with dyed hair is able to use this mousse without worry. Plus, this mousse, like many other Shea Moisture products, is Curly Girl certified.
While it is designed to be on the lightweight side, the texture of this mousse can become slightly watery. This makes it hard to apply to your hair evenly and make it hard to receive a strong hold from the product. Look at John Frieda’s Curl Reviver for a thicker mousse that still isn’t too heavy.
- Paraben and sulfate free
- Silk protein for elasticity
- Hydrating blend of coconut and neem oil
- Texture can be watery
9. Best Scented Mousse: Aussie Sprunch Leave-in Conditioner and Mousse
Perfect for anyone who values great scent in a product, Aussie’s Sprunch Leave-In Conditioner and Mousse has a strong floral scent. It’s both bright and fruity, and very long-lasting, so your hair will retain the pleasant scent throughout the day.
It is a PETA certified cruelty-free product, which means it has not been tested on animals; however, it is also sold in China, which complicates the issue. It also features natural ingredients such as jojoba oil and sea kelp. Aussie doubles as a leave-in conditioner, so your hair will be softened and moisturized each time you use it. This makes it great for hair that is especially dry or for coarse, coily hair that needs extra taming.
This product can flatten your curls, especially if you have super porous hair. To avoid it pulling your curls down, only use the product lightly. Aussie also contains parabens, which some user may want to avoid. Take a look at Shea Moisture hydrating mousse for a paraben free product.
- Long-lasting, pleasant scent
- PETA certified cruelty-free
- Doubles as a leave-in conditioner
- Flattens hair
- Contains parabens
10. Best Volumizing Mousse: DevaCurl Texture Foam
This airy foam is lightweight, but it still gives your curls all the volume they need. This product is a great choice for someone with thin or fine hair who wants to make their curls big and springy, or for anyone who wants to get extra noticeable definition.
The hold on this mousse is rather soft and flexible. This lets your curls move around naturally without appearing too stiff. It’s a great choice for anyone who wants their hair to appear as if they aren’t even wearing product at all.
Unfortunately, DevaCurl has recently comes into issues with users claiming that many items from the brand have caused hair loss. A class-action lawsuit is currently being filed against the company regarding these allegations. If you would rather stay away from DevaCurl products, we recommend Design Essentials mousse due to its similar lightweight texture.
- Adds volume to curls
- Soft, flexible hold
- Light, airy foam texture
- Potential hair loss risks
Full Guide to Hair Mousse for Curly Hair
It can be pretty overwhelming trying to decide which hair mousse is best. If you still have questions about the benefit of mousse or want tips on how to manage your curly hair, you can read our full guide for all of that need-to-know information.
Mousse vs Gel
Hair gel is thicker than mousse and has a much stronger hold. It is great for keeping hair in place, such as when you want to rock a mohawk, but can make longer hair appear stiff, and can make curls appear wet or weighed down.
Mousse is a much lighter product. Thanks to aerosol cans, it often dispenses with a foam-like texture that is easy to spread through hair. It’s versatile enough to be used on every hair type, and comes in a range of different holding strengths. However, mousse does not hold styles in place as long as gel does.
How to Apply Mousse
You always want to apply mousse to wet or damp hair. When applied to dry hair, mousse clumps up curls and can make them look greasy. Below, we have some simple steps to follow for achieving the perfect mousse application.
- Starting with wet hair, use a microfiber towel or cotton t-shirt to remove excess water from your locks. Gently squeeze your hair in the fabric to achieve this.
- Flip your hair upside down. Applying mousse from this direction helps to add volume to your hair.
- From this position, work an egg or palm sized amount of mousse into your hair, starting from your roots and working your way down.
- Flip your hair back up and arrange it the way you would like it to dry if air drying. If you are blow-drying or diffusing your hair, you can do this now.
Once your hair dries, you can style it further, or just leave it as is.
Mousse and the Curly Girl Method
The Curly Girl Method is a well-known set of tips and tricks that helps with caring for curly hair. A good mousse can easily be worked into, or become a vital step in, your personal Curly Girl method.
If you are unfamiliar with this method, we have listed some of the core principles of it for you below.
Curly Girl Basics
These basic tips are the foundation of the Curly Girl Method. Keep in mind that each person’s hair is different, so it may take some mixing and matching to find the perfect set of tips and products that work for your curls.
- Cut down on, or completely eliminate, shampoo. It may seem strange, but most shampoos can strip your hair of the natural oils it needs to keep your curls looking healthy. Most curly hair is naturally dry, so skipping shampoo can keep it looking hydrated. If you absolutely need to use shampoo, you can pick one from a Curly Girl approved product list.
- Avoid sulfates, silicones, alcohol, and fragrances. These are all ingredients that can dry out your curls and encourage breakage. Avoiding them will increase the health and hydration of your curls.
- Try to avoid heat styling tools and brushes. Heat styling, as most of us know, can damage your hair with repeated use. This is especially true for curly hair. Brushing your hair out while it is dry can also ruin your curl pattern and cause hair to break off. To brush your hair, the Curly Girl Method suggests finger combing in the shower, or using a wide-toothed comb on your hair while it is wet.
- Plop your hair. “Plopping” is the act of wrapping your hair up in a t-shirt or microfiber towel as it dries. This helps absorb water and excess frizz from your hair. You can leave it like this until it dries completely, or leave it up for 10-20 minutes and then diffuse the rest of the way.
There are a number of other techniques and approved products in the Curly Girl method that can help you. We suggest reading more the techniques here. You can also compare some of your favorite haircare items to this database of accepted products to see if the ingredients are a match. As for our list, both Garnier’s Curl Construct and Shea Moisture’s hydrating mousse are Curly Girl approved.
How to Avoid Crunchy Curls
The best way to avoid crunchy curls is to use less mousse. Mousse is supposed to put a slight cast on hair, as this is what protects and preserves the curls. Some mousses may be more prone to creating stiff, or crunchy, casts than others. If you find yourself having a problem with stiff looking hair, use less product.
Another great way to get rid of crunchy curls is to “scrunch” them. As we just mentioned, mousse creates a cast on your hair. You can break this by sectioning out your hair and putting your palm around the bottom. Move your hand up and close your palm around the hair, “scrunching it”, to break the cast. This helps to gently break the seal on your hair and lets loose softer, defined curls.
The longer you leave this seal on your hair, the longer your hair will stay defined once you scrunch out that crunch.
Can You Leave Mousse in Overnight?
Yes, you can. Mousse works well as an overnight styling solution for curls. However, you should only use a light amount in your hair to avoid waking up with stiff or crunchy locks. You also want to be sure not to do this often, as consistently leaving mousse in your hair overnight can lead to product build up and potentially damage your hair.
What Kind of Curly Hair Do I Have?
Curly hair has four different designations. Knowing your exact curl type and pattern can help you decide what products to buy and which ingredients will work best for your curls.
There are three categories of curl (A, B, and C) within the levels of 1-4. These letters denote the curl pattern of your hair. A is the straightest and C is the curliest. Below, we breakdown these categories.
Type 1 Hair
Type 1 hair is straight. It can be shinier than the other hair types. Volumizing and shape-defining mousses like Got2b Kinkier’s Gloss ‘n Define work well for this hair.
1A hair is very fine, straight and soft. 1B has a medium texture and more body. 1C is going to still be straight, but it will have a coarser texture and can require extra strength hair products to manage it.
Type 2 Hair
If you have waves in your hair, you are likely a type 2. The S pattern found in this hair type is somewhere in between straight and curly hair. Wavy hair frizzes very easily, and would probably benefit from using a mousse such as OGX’s Quenching Frizz-Defying Mousse.
2A hair has light waves, and it can occasionally be thin. 2B has clear, developed waves and 2C hair will have a thicker texture. 2C hair is the most prone to frizz.
Type 3 Hair
Type 3 hair has either a tight S shape or a loose coil pattern to it. This type is springy, and it will often bounce back into place after you pull it out. Type 3 also frizzes pretty easily.
3A hair has loose curls. It can be fairly shiny. 3B can have loose spirals or ringlets, or even tight corkscrew curls. 3C hair has tight curls; a moisturizing mousse like Shea Moisture would work well with this type.
Type 4 Hair
People with type 4 hair usually have natural hair. It has very tight curl patterns, either S-shaped or Z-shaped, and appears coily or kinky. This type requires a lot of moisturizing; a cream mousse like OGX’s Locking Coconut Curls can be very helpful.
4A hair is thick, with S-shaped curls. It is usually not too coarse. 4B and 4C have a Z-shaped curl patterns. Both types are dense and can be prone to breakage. A mousse like Aussie’s Sprunch that doubles as a leave-in conditioner is a good option for this hair type.
You can take a look at the pictures in this article to get a better idea of which hair type you belong to.
Determining your hair texture can help you decide which formula of mousse to go with. More lightweight mousses work well on finer hair, while heavier mousses are better at taming thick locks. To find your hair texture, follow these steps.
- Wash and condition your hair. You want the strands to be completely product free in order to get accurate results.
- Let your hair air dry and pluck a piece out. Try to get a full piece of hair; pulling it from the back of your head will be easier.
- Cut a length of sewing thread and lay it next to your plucked hair. Compare the two of them.
- If your hair is thinner than the thread, you have fine hair. If it is the same size, you have medium hair, and if your hair is thicker than the thread, you have thick hair.
You can read about other ways to determine your hair texture and type here.
Other Ways to Enhance Curly Hair
- Use a diffuser instead of a hair dryer. It helps to further reduce frizz and doesn’t destroy your curl pattern like a using a hair dryer without the attachment would.
- Consider switching to a silk pillowcase. The soft texture of silk won’t tangle and frizz up your curls as you sleep. This is especially helpful if you shower at night and sleep with wet or damp hair.
- Invest in a microfiber towel. A microfiber towel slowly wicks away moisture from your hair, unlike a regular towel. This leaves your hair looking healthier and more hydrated, and will help it hold any styling products you apply.
- When air drying your hair, try not to touch it. Once product is applied and it begins to dry, any excess movement or touching can create frizz. If you have the time, sit down and read a book or watch an episode of your favorite show to give your curls time to settle.
How to Sleep With Curly Hair
Often times, curly hair requires its own nighttime routine to keep it looking fresh the next morning. There are a few things you can do to prevent your curls from looking like a tangled mess every time you wake up.
Change Your Sleeping Position
The worst thing for curly hair is to sleep directly on it. Doing this crushes the hair follicles and presses out the curls, leaving your hair looking flat and tangled. If you want to leave your hair down while you sleep, trying sleep on your side or stomach with your hair spread out away from you.
Protect Your Hair at Night
Protecting your curls can be done a number of ways. The most popular technique is to create a “pineapple.” This is a high ponytail on the very top of your head that allows your curls to spill down, looking very much like a pineapple. It helps to keep your curls out of the way all night, no matter how much you toss and turn.
This video can show you how to properly create a pineapple.
Another foolproof technique for preserving curls overnight is to braid your hair. This keeps the strands protected and lets you easily move your hair out of the way while you sleep. Of course, if you use this method on wet or damp hair, you may wake up with your hair slightly wavier than you want it to be.
Get the Definition Your Curls Deserve
Your curls deserve to be healthy, voluminous, and shiny. With the help of the right mousse, you can achieve this look over and over again, putting others in awe of your flawless style. All you have to do is keep in mind your curl type and hair texture, and the key ingredients you want in a hair mousse to find the perfect product for you. We hope this list has helped make your search for the best mousse easier, and that your curls stay forever defined.