Allure April 23, 2021



The Best Foams and Mousses for Every Type of Curly Hair

It's official: Hair foams and mousses are making a comeback, and hairstylists fully approve. Here's how to find the best one for your specific curl type.

"Mousse mania" first became popular in the '80s — pre-Allure's existence — when, according to pop culture, the bigger the hair, the better. Maybe you lived through the era or have seen photos of rock stars like Madonna or KISS and couldn't help but notice their wildly voluminous hair. Back then, mousse was glorified as the answer for breathing life to curly hair; giving it hold, body, texture, and shine. Although it has its perks, the hair product has gained a bad rap over the years for two main reasons: crunchy hair and sticky roots.

If you've got curly hair, you know that foams and mousses can either give you the best hair day of your life or the worst one. The key? Finding the right formula that works for your specific hair type. 

Modern-day versions are here to debunk the mindset that mousses should be a thing of the past. Plenty of formulas are now made with moisturizing ingredients, like sunflower oil and wheat protein, that are a considerable upgrade from the originals.

As for the difference between foams and mousses? It all comes down to consistency. Both types of products are similar, except foams are usually more lightweight than mousses which tend to have a texture closer to whipped cream. 

"It's important you first identify your curl type then find out what products are meant for you," says hairstylist Irinel de León. "This is so important because you could be using a product that's either too light or heavy for your curls which could either cause frizz, leave build-up, or leave your strands limp."

To smooth and define curls with a mousse, start by rubbing the foam into towel-dried hair from roots to tips. Comb through to remove all tangles, hang your head upside down, and scrunch the product in with your fingers. Then, flip your head over and use either a diffuser to blow-dry your hair or air-dry and go.

On top of your curl type and hair texture, your environment can help determine the best product for you. "The climate you live in has a direct effect on your strands," de León adds. "For example, humidity is moisture in the air, so your strands will absorb that moisture and expand in width, leading to frizz." 

Mousses and foams can help by giving your hair hydration and hold while leaving it touchably soft. Check out the best formulas for every type of curl, according to hairstylists, ahead.

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Aloxxi Volumizing Whip

Aloxxi's Volumizing Whip is an extremely lightweight conditioning mousse that's a dream for fine-textured hair. Hairstylist Michael Dueñas notes that the styler is fitting for type 2A, 2B, and 2C curls. "It's hydrating, has a well-balanced hold, and doesn't weigh hair down," he tells Allure. 

On a scale from one to five (with five being the strongest hold), you'll get a grip of around three here. It's also worth noting that built-in UV-blockers this mousse protects your hair color from fading. 

DevaCurl Frizz-Free Volumizing Foam

Have medium-textured hair? Try DevaCurl's Frizz-Free Volumizing Foam, which Dueñas says works best on 3A, 3B, and 3C curls. This body-boosting formula is slightly heavier than the previously mentioned Aloxxi, but is still on the lightweight side. The blend of moisturizing glycerin and sunflower fatty acids help reduce frizz, give hair a boost of airy volume, and leaves it super shiny. 

Carol's Daughter Hair Milk Styling Foam

Dueñas also suggests the creamy Carol's Daughter Hair Milk Styling Foam for thick-textured strands. "Coarse hair typically needs more moisture and more hold," he says. It's heavier (in a good way) for 4A, 4B, and 4C curls. Blended with hydrating agave, cocoa, and shea butter, it gives your hair a shot of moisture and holds it in place without that crunch factor. 

"It’s best applied in wet hair that is almost dripping. Rake your fingers through your curls to coat and distribute the foam, then scrunch it tightly," Dueñas adds. Finish by letting it air dry or use a blow-dryer with a diffuser.

Ouidad VitalCurl+ Soft Defining Mousse

Type 2B to 3C curls can get a major upgrade with the lightweight Ouidad VitalCurl+ Soft Defining Mousse. "It works really well to help form shiny spirals and give it a good boost of volume and fullness — without the crunch or stiffness," says de León. 

It all comes down to the key ingredients in the formula: infused with omega 3-6-9 complex (with chia seed, Japanese camellia, and sunflower oils), the mousse helps your hair retain more moisture and bounce. Buh-bye, droopy curls.

L'Oréal Professionnel Tecni Art Transformer Texture Gel To Foam

Hairstylist Cheryl T. Bergamy is all for L'Oréal Professionnel's Tecni Art Transformer Texture Gel To Foam. She notes that the styler works well on 3A to 4C hair to help control the weight and keep curls in place. "The formula provides voluminous control and movement in short hair for definition without the stiffness," she says. 

Since coily, Afro-textured, and kinky hair can be naturally dry and spongy in texture, moisture retention — which glycerin and castor oil in this foam provide — is key to keeping curls healthy.  "In addition to using this foam, I use the Earth Silk Glossifyer by Contents Haircare [her own brand] to add moisture, shine, control frizz, and help prevent oxidation."

Oribe Curl Shaping Mousse

For wavy 2A to 2C hair, aim for lighter products like the Oribe Curl Shaping Mousse, as recommended by Bergamy. "It adds moisture and is excellent at keeping curls and waves in place," she says. Expect supple, shiny hair that's frizz-free and far from stiff. 

Start by working the product from ends to roots. Then use your hand to scrunch your hair while holding a diffuser underneath to create defined curls or waves.

Living Proof Full Thickening Mousse

Longing for thicker-looking hair? Bergamy recommends the Living Proof Full Thickening Mousse, which works like magic to amp up the fullness — and it's long-lasting, too. Seriously, you'll see a noticeable difference with just an egg-sized amount of product. 

Work the foam into damp hair from roots to ends, blow-dry, and get ready to be wowed. The mousse also doubles as a heat protectant (up to 320 degrees Fahrenheit/160 degrees Celsius ) and is safe for chemically treated hair.

ORS Olive Oil Wrap Set Hair Mousse

This ORS Wrap Set Hair Mousse has us wondering: How can something so soft be so powerful? Leigh Hardges, a Chicago-based hairstylist, recommends this product for 3A to 4A curls. "It's soft, pillowy, and easy to work with," she says. Since it's laced with olive oil as its key ingredient, it's rich in vitamin E and adds maximum moisture to hair.

Nourish & Shine Foaming Curl Primer

Hardges is also a fan of Jane Carter Solutions' Wrap and Roll Foam, which was recently rebranded to Nourish & Shine. Think of Nourish & Shine's Foaming Curl Primer curl-friendly concoction like happiness in a bottle. Just like the bold yellow packaging, the formula inside packs a punch. 

The hydrating pre-styling conditioner is designed to smooth and sculpt medium to coarse-textured, curly to coily hair. You get lasting hold and frizz control, thanks to key ingredients including sunflower oil and honey extract. 

Dove Curls Defining Mousse

"As a stand-alone product, Dove Curls Defining Mousse works great on wavy to curly hair," says hairstylist Cynthia Alvarez. "It's great for fine hair as well due to its soft hold and creamy texture." 

If you're looking for a more flexible hold rather than a strong grip, this one's for you. The lightweight formula leaves your hair bouncy, frizz-free, and nourished from root to tip.

Motions Style and Create Versatile Foam

"This is a must-have in my kit because it prevents curls from frizzing up," says Alvarez, who notes the Motions Style and Create Versatile Foam works for all types of curls. Key ingredients include shea butter (to moisturize and strengthen hair), argan oil (to add shine and smooth cuticles), and coconut oil (to deeply condition). 

"I also love to use this mousse to manipulate baby hair and finger waves," she says. 

Design Essentials Almond & Avocado Curl Enhancing Mousse

For 2C-4C hair, go for the lightweight, quick-drying Design Essentials Almond & Avocado Curl Enhancing Mousse. What makes this foam different from similar stylers is that it's formulated with thickening wheat protein that penetrates the hair cuticle which leads to more dense and healthy-looking curls. 

Key ingredients include almond, avocado, and olive oil, to up the shine factor, strengthen hair, and add moisture. "It really helps to define curls while maintaining the hair's natural volume," Alvarez says.

Nairobi Wrapp-It Shine Foaming Lotion

For maximum shine and hold, Hardges suggests Nairobi's Wrapp-It Shine Foaming Lotion. Just note, "it absolutely needs the tension of rollers or rods to maximize the product," she says. "I recommend a heat-dried finish under the dryer for best results."

Try the styler on a flexi-rod set. "When heat is applied, you get a shiny finish," she says. "You can also add water to dilute the amount of hold."