If you've been hanging around the curly hair community for a while, you may have seen people talking about their favourite foams and mousses. What's the difference? Do you need both? Which one is better for your hair type? We receive these questions all the time at Curl Warehouse, so we thought we'd sit down and answer them!
Similarities and Differences Between Mousses and Foams
- Foam: Foams typically have a lighter and airier consistency and a higher water content than mousses. It will look more like sea foam when you pump it out and is usually transparent. Foams usually contain fewer oils and emollients and are likely to be more lightweight, so they're perfect for fine haired curlies. Foams often provide a softer hold than mousse and are great for adding volume to flat sections. One of the most popular foams with our customers for this purpose is the Flora & Curl Sweet Hibiscus Curl Volumizing Foam.
- Mousse: Mousse has a thicker and creamier texture, sometimes almost like shaving cream when you pump it out into your hand. They usually contains more oils, emollients, and conditioning ingredients. Mousses are formulated to provide medium to strong hold and can be used for styling purposes, like defining curls, rather than for volume. They are also often a bit stickier during application than foams are. Try the AG Hair Mousse Gel if you like a simple styling routine that combines the best of gel and mousse into one product.
Hold and Volume:
Foam: Foam products are great for adding volume to all hair types. They really shine when it comes to adding root volume, particularly foams like the Innersense Organic Beauty I Create Lift Volumizing Foam or the Inahsi Naturals Define & Shine Volumizing Foam. Foams generally offer a lighter hold, making them ideal for styles where you want flexibility and movement. The VERB Curl Foaming Gel is an example of a foam with a stronger hold.
Mousse: Mousse almost always offers a stronger hold compared to foam. It can help control frizz, enhance curls, and maintain the shape of your hairstyle throughout the day. Some can provide volume too, like the Design.Me Puff.Me Volumizing Mousse. You're far more likely to be able to use a mousse as a one-and-done product than a foam. Try the VitalCurl+ Soft Defining Mousse for a simple addition to your styling routine that provides definition and hold in one product. Some mousse products are considered "setting mousses" like the Camille Rose Spiked Honey Mousse. These mousses can also help with frizz control and improving the longevity of your style (think hairspray in mousse form). These products provide great hold and are perfect for all kinds of uses including protective styles, wash'n'gos, and twist outs.
Suitable Hair Types:
- Foam: Foams are often recommended for people with fine or low density hair because they add volume without weighing the hair down. They can be great for enhancing your natural curls without the heaviness of a curl cream. New in store is the Mousse Def Texture Foam from The Doux. We are getting rave reviews already!
- Mousse: Mousse is a bit more versatile and can be used by just about anyone. They tend to be most popular with curlies who are looking for more hold or have thicker or higher density hair.
- Foam: To use a foam product, you typically dispense it into your hand and work it through damp hair from roots to ends. For a volumizing foam like Innersense Organic Beauty's I Create Lift Volumizing Foam, we often recommend applying it when the hair is already partially dry and all excess water has been removed. This ensures maximum volume! We don't recommend combing a foam through if your hair does not have excess water in it.
- Mousse: Mousse is applied in a similar manner to foam, with the product distributed evenly through damp hair. Some people can apply mousse on soaking wet hair and get great results. You can scrunch or comb through a mousse on wet hair for even distribution. Doing a twist out or other protective style? Try Aunt Jackie's Frizz Patrol Twist & Curl Setting Mousse.
Mousse Def Texture Foam is available in two sizes!
A Summary on Foam
- best for fine or low density hair but equally works on thicker, coarser hair (you may just need to use more)
- offers a lightweight hold
- great for volume
- little to no cast, often no "scrunch out the crunch" required
- can be better for refreshing than a mousse, due to the high water content
A Summary on Mousse
- best for thicker or coarser hair
- provides a stronger hold
- may give a slight cast, easily scrunched out
- slightly stickier on application
- more moisturizing, often contains more conditioning ingredients
- can still be good for volume!
- potentially used as a one-and-done
- often the preferred choice for protective styles (particularly setting mousses)
Of course, the above points are generalizations. There are always exceptions to these "rules" as all brands and formulations are different. So are our curls and the way they will react to ingredients and products.
Essentially, if you want a lighter hold, have finer hair, or want more volume, we would recommend a foam. If you want stronger hold and have thicker or denser curls, we most often recommend a mousse.
Depending on your goals, you may want to use either of these products, or maybe both on different days. Experiment with applying them on top of or underneath your other stylers and with how much water you use when applying. However, if you are specifically aiming for volume, apply your foam or mousse last and when your hair is already partially dry. Water weighs hair down and will negate the volumizing properties of your chosen product.