Byrdie January 6, 2022

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Hair

13 Volumizing Mousses to Give Limp Hair a New Lease of Life

 

Volumizing hair mousse really doesn’t get enough credit. Sure, the formulas of the ‘80s were crunchy and stiff, but nowadays, it’s possible to get a mousse that adds unmatched body, shine, and hold.

“Mousse is actually one of my favorite ways to create volume and hold within a hairstyle,” says John Pulitano of Headcase Hair in Sydney, Australia. “Given it’s a quality formula and the product is distributed evenly, I think it’s one of the most effective and versatile styling products out there.” 

So if you’re nervous—or just triggered from the formulas of dance concerts past—we’ve pulled together the best volumizing mousse formulas for all hair types, sure to give you the gravity-defying volume you’ve been dreaming of.

Keep scrolling to shop the best volumizing mousses.

 

MEET THE EXPERT

Shelly Aguirre is a hairstylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago. She specializes in cutting, blowouts, extensions, and keratin treatments.

John Pulitano is a professional hairstylist and the co-owner and creative director of Headcase Hair, a salon in Sydney, Australia. 

 

Best Overall: Joico Firm Hold Design Foam


What We Like

  • Holds up in humidity
  • Suits most hair types
  • Boosts shine

What We Don't Like

  • Not overly thickening

This universally-appealing mousse delivers body, hold, and shine—all while caring for dry, dehydrated hair. The alcohol-free formula is boosted with kukui nut oil to nourish and smooth, while polymers coat each strand to build volume. Reviewers also seem to love the fact it’s never sticky or stiff. 

Key Ingredients: VP/VA copolymer, kukui nut oil | Hair Type: Fine, thin | Size: 10.2 fluid ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Budget: John Frieda Volume Lift Air Whipped Foam


What We Like

  • Great price
  • Lightweight feel

What We Don't Like

  • May not be ideal for thicker hair

Ideal for fine hair, this wallet-friendly buy creates volume and fullness via polymer technology. There’s also caffeine to help invigorate the scalp, while panthenol (vitamin B5) hydrates and soothes. 

Key Ingredients: Vp/methacrylamide/vinyl imidazole copolymer, panthenol | Hair Type: Balanced to fine | Dosage: Palm-full | Size: 7.5 fluid ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Drugstore: Dove Style + Care Curls Defining Mousse


What We Like

  • Great price
  • Lightweight feel

What We Don't Like

  • Contains hydrofluorocarbons

If you want to add lift and definition to your curls without breaking the bank, this Dove mousse is pretty hard to beat. It contains dimethicone to smooth and shape, while the lightweight texture doesn’t feel tacky, heavy, or stiff. While it does outline that it’s for curls, we also think this formula would be great for heavy, thick, or coarse hair types. 

Key Ingredients: Dimethicone, DMDM hydantoin | Hair Type: Curly, thick | Size: 7 fluid ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Fine Hair: Living Proof Full Thickening Mousse


What We Like

  • Lightweight feel
  • Has heat protection
  • Thickens

What We Don't Like

  • Not overly volumizing

Those with fine hair will know that creating volume is a difficult balance—if you add too much product, you’ll simply end up with hair that is limp and greasy. Thankfully, this mousse from Living Proof gets it right. The secret is a patented thickening molecule that builds on existing hair, giving the illusion of serious volume. It’s also quite light, so there’s no tack or stiffness.

Key Ingredients: Vp/methacrylamide/vinyl imidazole copolymer, panthenol, acacia senegal gum | Hair Type: Fine, thin, or balanced | Dosage: Egg-sized amount | Size: 2 fluid ounces, 5 fluid ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Thick Hair: TIGI Catwalk Strong Hold Mousse


What We Like

  • Strong hold
  • Smooths hair
  • Great scent

What We Don't Like

  • Not a good choice for softer styles

With a strong hold and thicker consistency, this mousse from TIGI is great for thick, coarse hair. It contains dimethicone to coat the hair, providing smoothness, definition, and hold—making it a useful pick for those with a natural curl, too. Because it’s heavier texture-wise, it provides long-lasting hold, too. 

Key Ingredients: PVP, PEG/PPG-18/18 dimethicone | Hair Type: Curly, thick, and coarse | Size: 6.7 fluid ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Wavy Hair: Amika Plus Size Perfect Body Mousse


What We Like

  • Holds up in humidity
  • Boosts shine

What We Don't Like

  • Strong scent

This airy, whipped option is amazing when it comes to creating soft, beachy waves. It's got a flexible hold, shaping polymers, and sea buckthorn for nourishment, leaving your hair soft, tousled, and defined. Pair it with a sea salt spray for a more undone finish. 

Key Ingredients: AMP-acrylates/allyl methacrylate copolymer, PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil, sea buckthorn extract | Hair Type: All | Dosage: Golf-ball-sized amount | Size: 8.5 fluid ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Dry Hair: R+Co Aircraft Pomade Mousse


What We Like

  • Great scent
  • Hydrating and strengthening formula

What We Don't Like

  • Pricey

Pulitano loves this mousse for clients with fine, brittle, or dry hair, thanks to the inclusion of papaya, protein, and neem oil: “Mousse can be drying due to the alcohol content, but Aircraft is surprisingly soft and nourishing. I love smoothing it through the hair before a bouncy blow dry for long-lasting results.” The addition of corn starch prevents grease around the roots, too. 

Key Ingredients: Corn starch, synthetic beeswax, papaya fruit extract, neem oil | Hair Type: Balanced, dry, and colored | Size: 5.6 fluid ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Splurge: Leonor Greyl Au Lotus Volumizing Mousse


What We Like

  • Alcohol-free
  • Adds volume and softness
  • Boosts shine

What We Don't Like

  • Pricey

Formulated without alcohol, this lush French buy is all of our luxury beauty dreams realized. It’s airy and light, so it works on thin, frizzy, or mature hair (there’s no stiffness whatsoever). The addition of castor seed and jojoba oils recondition the hair, too. While it’s got a hefty price tag, we promise you it’s a great formula. 

Key Ingredients: Polyquaternium 4/Hydroxypropyl Starch Copolymer, PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil, buxus chinensis seed oil | Hair Type: Thin, mature, dry or colored | Size: 5.1 fluid ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Colored Hair: Oribe Grandiose Hair Plumping Mousse


What We Like

  • Great scent
  • Works well for all hair types
  • Has heat protection

What We Don't Like

  • Pricey

“This mousse is hard to beat,” says Pulitano. “It coats each hair fiber, leaving it shiny, full, and manageable—not to mention beautifully bouncy.” 

This soft, velvety, and color-safe formula is amazing for building structure within the hair, ensuring excellent hold and a long-lasting finish. Also, it’s got that signature expensive Oribe scent (need we say more). 

Key Ingredients: VP/VA Copolymer, panthenol, amber resin extract | Hair Type: All | Size: 5.7 fluid ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Normal Hair: Original & Mineral Rootalicious Root Lift Mousse


What We Like

  • Vitamin-rich formula
  • Alcohol-free
  • Long-lasting

What We Don't Like

  • Could be more volumizing

Enriched with native Australian quandong and lilly pilly extracts, this mousse is volumizing but supremely nourishing, as well. It works to create a barrier around the roots, lifting the hair up and out. “This is one of my favorite mousses for all hair types, but especially fine and flat,” adds Pulitano. “It coats the hair, lifting from the roots and creating movement that’s natural but long-lasting.” 

Key Ingredients: PVP/VA copolymer, quaternium-23, quandong, lilly pilly | Hair Type: All | Size: 10.14 fluid ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Curls: TGIN Rose Water Curl Defining Mousse


What We Like

  • Alcohol-free
  • Great for curls and coils

What We Don't Like

  • Could be more volumizing

Interestingly, this nourishing mousse is packed with moisture-rich rose water, plus botanicals including lavender, ginger, acai, and marula to care for curls while creating soft, subtle volume. There’s also polymer technology to shape and define curls and waves. 

Key Ingredients: Rose water, acai extract, ginger root, lavender, maltodextrin/VA-copolymer | Hair Type: Balanced to curly or coiled | Size: 8 fluid ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Frizz: Redken Full Frame 07 All-Over Volumizing Mousse


What We Like

  • Smooths frizz
  • Non-drying formula
  • Great hold

What We Don't Like

  • May weigh down thin or fine hair

Sick of rain and humidity ruining your blow-dries? Redken’s Full Frame 07 All-Over Mousse is the answer. It contains polymer technology plus castor oil to smooth flyaways, while an anti-frizz shield prevents water from swelling up the hair cuticle. It also manages to add amazing volume without feeling tacky or heavy—in fact, it brushes out easily (no need to shampoo). 

Key Ingredients: Allyl methacrylate copolymer, lauryl methacrylate copolymer, castor oil | Hair Type: Thick, frizzy hair | Size: 8.5 fluid ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Shine: Virtue Volumizing Mousse


What We Like

  • Strengthening formula
  • Boosts shine
  • Adds volume

What We Don't Like

  • Pricey

Virtue always exceeds our expectations, and this volumizing mousse is no different. It’s packed with keratin, proteins, panthenol, and polymers to nourish, strengthen, and build body, all while imparting a healthy-looking shine. The keratin component is actually designed to replenish keratin bonds within the hair, repairing damage and preventing breakage. 

Key Ingredients: VP/VA copolymer, acrylates copolymer, keratin, hydrolyzed soy protein, wheat amino acids, panthenol | Hair Type: All | Size: 5.1 fluid ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Final Verdict

While there’s a stack of worthy contenders in the above edit, we can’t go past Joico’s Firm Hold Design Foam (view at Amazon) and Virtue’s Volumizing Mousse (view at Ulta) as our top picks. Joico manages to deliver on shine, hold, and body at once (all without any alcohol), while Virtue’s formula is incredibly nourishing.

What to Look For in a Volumizing Mousse

Bodifying Ingredients

When it comes to hair that lacks body, look for products that contain ingredients to thicken and plump up the hair shaft. “Polymers, collagen, hyaluronic acid, and even bamboo will lift and fatten fine hair,” says Pulitano.

Texture

The texture of your volumizing mousse is also important, explains Pulitano: “I favor products with an airy, silky texture as they’re easier to work with and don’t leave a tacky residue.”

Pulitano adds that while it does differ between brands and formulations, a thicker mousse often dictates a stronger hold, whereas a thinner formula will likely provide a light hold.

FAQ

Does volumizing mousse work?

According to hairstylist Shelly Aguirre of Maxine Salon, yes, volumizing mousses are an effective way to add volume to fine, limp hair textures.

How do you apply mousse for volume?

When applying a volumizing mousse, Aguirre recommends beginning with a golf ball size of the product, emulsifying it in your hands before applying it to damp (not too wet) hair. “Use your fingers to spread the product all over the hair strands,” she says. “You can always add more, but too much is not good, so always err on the side of caution.” From there, you can either let your hair air dry or brush the hair upwards while blow-drying to add extra lift at the roots.