“Non-crispy, non-sticky, curl-friendly hair mousse does exist – I’ve found it”

Posted by
Shannon Peter

Thought hair mousse was obsolete? Think again. The new-age formulas leave curly hair swishy - not sticky. Beauty director Shannon Peter shares the ones that have changed her curl routine forever.

I know what you’re thinking.

You haven’t even considered using hair mousse since the latter end of the 90s, haunted by the memory of sticky, gloopy, frothy, watery formulas that stiffened hair like a Plaster of Paris cast and rendered it completely untouchable. Of course, this old school mousse had its uses – a big, bouncy blow dry could last at least a week under its stiff spell – but as new hi-tech hair products, like sprays, mists, creams and pomades came to the fore in their hundreds, mousse fell into disuse, atop the pile of long-forgotten beauty products.

The thing is, despite all that, I’m actually a massive fan of hair mousse. All it took was for hairstylist Larry King to teach me how to actually properly style my curls using one and I’ve found myself scrunching satsuma-sized balls of the stuff into my hair after every wash cycle ever since. My curls have never looked better.

But this isn’t hair mousse as you know it.

These days, the best hair mousse isn’t sticky, but rather creamy and nourishing. It isn’t runny and wet, like the remnants of an ill-advised foam party, but rather frothy and dense, like the texture of pre-baked meringue. It doesn’t petrify hair into a rigid mass; it gently scaffolds curls whilst allowing them to ripple like a Reformation silk slip dress.

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Wondering how to use hair mousse on curly hair? It’s best applied to wet hair, straight from the shower - no towel or brush allowed. A golf ball’s worth is enough for short hair above the shoulders, mid-length or long hair will require a satsuma-sized ball or two. After scrunching into hair, focusing on the roots for volume or lengths for curl formation, continue with your usual drying routine - whether that’s plopping (leaving your hair to dry whilst tied up in a t-shirt or curl-safe hair towel), a diffuser-aided blow dry, or low-maintenance air-drying. Curls will end up more defined, but without looking like crispy, doll-like ringlets.

These are the best hair mousse formulas for curly hair I’ve found to date.

The best hair mousse formulas for swishy - not sticky - hair

  • Virtue Moisture Defining Whip


    I first tried Virtue’s hair mousse off the recommendation of a fellow beauty editor, who loved the way it gave her usually-straight hair a realistic (and not completely matted) beachy wave. On curls, the thick formula melts down to a nourishing cream and leaves curls buoyant, but a little bit broken up - just how I like it.

  • Redken Guts 10

    The aforementioned mousse introduced to me by Larry King – and a firm backstage favourite – as the name would suggest, this one gives excellent hold, but without rendering hair completely inflexible. It also doubles up as an excellent pre-styler if you tong, curl or straighten your hair.

  • Bumble and bumble Curl Conditioning Mousse

    Ideal for curly hair that has the tendency for dryness, Bumble and bumble’s mousse contains a blend of Brazilian oils to nourish and soften hair, without leaving curls misshapen or limp like heavier products can. 

  • Ouai Soft Mousse


    Firstly, like all Ouai products, this hair mousse smells heavenly. It’s also loaded with wheat proteins and amino acids, small molecules intended to strengthen strands, making this one of the best hair mousses for damaged hair. Ideal for adding a little volume and shine to air-dried hair.

  • Pureology Clean Volume Mousse


    An excellent first foray into the world of hair mousse for fine curly hair, Pureology’s is especially lightweight, feeling no heavier than a styling mist once melted into hair. It also contains aloe water to coat hair in gloss, has extra colour-strengthening properties, and is designed to add height to limp roots, without exacerbating a sweaty or oily scalp. The dream.

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