May 13, 2021



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


Back in the ‘80s, mousse was known not just for adding volume to hair but for giving it a crispy, crunchy look. These days, volumizing mousses are way more sophisticated—you get shine, hold, and va-va-voom without that stiff feeling. In fact, most volumizing mousses currently on the market are suited for a variety of hair types, concerns, and purposes. Whether you want a product that defines curls or has UV protection, you're sure to find one that meets your hair goals.

“Mousse is a very versatile styling product,” says Michelle Dixon, a hairstylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago. “It’s not heavy and provides bounce and height, enhances curls and waves, and has frizz-fighting capabilities as well.” The best volumizing mousses hydrate, fight frizz, and protect the integrity of your hair, says Dixon. “Hydration is the key for healthy, bouncy hair so definitely use one that has hydrating oils and butters,” she explains, adding that she loves avocado oil in particular. And if you have straight hair, you’ll want to choose a humidity-resistant mousse so your volume doesn’t fall flat. 


Michelle Dixon is a hairstylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago. She specializes in roller sets, rod sets, flat twist sets, styling, cutting, relaxing, and texturizing ethnic hair.

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

Here, we’ve rounded up the best volumizing mousses for every hair type and concern.

Best Overall: Joico JoiWhip Design Foam

This volumizing mousse delivers superior hold, body, and shine—all while conditioning hair. The alcohol-free formula is loaded with nourishing, body-building, shine-enhancing kukui nut oil. Users rave about its ability to keep hair looking full for days without making hair feel sticky or weighing it down.

Best Budget: John Frieda Luxurious Volume Perfectly Full Mousse

Get fuller-looking hair for less with this budget-friendly volumizing mousse. Ideal for fine hair, this mousse seriously boosts volume by lifting hair at the roots. Caffeine in the formula creates fullness without the crunch, while polymer technology works to thicken strands.

Best for Fine Hair: Living Proof Full Thickening Mousse

If you have fine hair, then you know that mastering volume is a tricky thing. Enter this thickening mousse, which works wonders on fine hair. The formula contains a patented thickening molecule that actually makes you feel like you have thicker hair. And, that feeling of fullness really lasts. The light hold means this volumizing mousse is anything but stiff. Users rave that it gives their fine, flat hair the body they always craved.

Best for Thick Hair: TIGI Catwalk Strong Hold Mousse

When it comes to using volumizing mousse on thick hair, it’s important to choose one with a strong hold so your hair can maintain its volume throughout the day. This volumizing mousse with a strong hold is awesome for thick hair. In addition to long-lasting volume, it also provides a seriously smooth finish and great curl definition.

Best for Curly Hair: SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Frizz-Free Curl Mousse

Volumizing mousse is a key product for making sure curls look their absolute best—and this particular one is a great option for curly hair. The rich formula, infused with coconut oil, neem oil, and silk protein, moisturizes dry curls, tames frizz, and delivers a silky finish with major bounce. You’ll love how smooth, bouncy, and defined your curls look when you use this mousse.

Best for Wavy Hair: Amika Plus Size Perfect Body Mousse

Get the voluminous beachy waves of your dreams with this long-lasting volumizing mousse that’s perfect for wavy hair. The whipped formula features shaping polymers for long-lasting hold with none of the crunch. With a flexible hold, you won’t be able to stop running your hands through your summer-inspired waves.

Best for Dry Hair: R+Co Aircraft Pomade Mousse

Think you can’t use volumizing mousse if you have dry hair? Think again. Say hello to softer, bouncier hair when you use this volumizing mousse. Papaya extract creates volume and adds shine, vegetable protein strengthens hair, and neem oil balances moisture. This volumizing mousse also offers heat protection so you can blow-dry or curl without worrying about your hair feeling drier.

Best for Damaged Hair: Alterna Haircare Clinical Densifying Styling Mousse

Hair feeling weak? Turn your attention to this volumizing mousse, which not only thickens hair but strengthens it. The powerful formula ensures long-lasting body and makes hair look thicker, thanks to non-sticky polymers. It also minimizes hair fallout caused by breakage. 

Best for Natural Hair: TGIN Honey Whip Hydrating Mousse

“This is my favorite for natural hair,” says Dixon. The blend of coconut oil and argan oil adds definition, shine, and body to natural hair—and it smooths frizz to boot. While this volumizing mousse is effective in defining and adding body, it still has a lightweight finish without any residue. Try it with roller sets, flexi-rod sets, or a wash-and-go hairstyle.

Best for Natural Hair, Runner-Up: Jane Carter Solution Wrap & Roll Smooth Styling Mousse

Dixon is a fan of this volumizing mousse. “It’s great for rod sets and wrapping the hair—it will give great bounce,” she says. Users love how it leaves hair curly without the frizz, stating that it makes hair much more manageable. Users also note that moisturizing formula—which includes natural glycerides, rosemary essential oil, and nettle extract, doesn’t cause buildup or leave any residue.

Best for Straight Hair: Shu Uemura Ample Angora Volumizing Light Foam

This volumizing mousse “gives a lot of body for a blowout on straight hair,” says Dixon. “It’s my favorite for a sexy blowout and gives a silky finish.” The lightweight formula, featuring cedar bud, pumps up the volume without weighing down fine, straight hair or leaving behind residue. Expect soft, smooth volume that really lasts. Beyond blowouts, you can also apply it to hair and let it air dry for added body on straight hair.

Best Splurge: Leonor Greyl Au Lotus Volumizing Mousse

French women swear by this chic beauty brand—and the volumizing mousse, ideal for thin or frizzy hair, is one of its best products. The alcohol-free formula smooths frizz, adds body, and increases shine sans crispiness. If you’re willing to splurge on a volumizing mousse, then this is definitely a worthy purchase.

Best Drugstore: Dove Volume and Fullness Mousse

We all know there are plenty of beauty gems to be found at the drugstore—and that’s certainly the case for this volumizing mousse, a favorite of Holly Rhue, Byrdie's associate editor. The formula is super-lightweight and keeps frizz, static, and flyaways at bay while it volumizes. You’ll be impressed by how soft your hair feels all day long.

Best With UV Protection: Oribe Grandiose Hair Plumping Mousse

Rhue loves this volumizing mousse, which has an oh-so-hydrating formula that plumps the hair shaft for volume and thickness. The mousse also protects hair against heat and even strengthens strands. Plus, it offers UV protection and is safe for use on color- and keratin-treated hair.

Final Verdict

We’re giving top honors to the Joico JoiWhip Design Foam for its ability to deliver great hold, body, and shine while keeping the hair soft and conditioned. Trust, it keeps hair looking voluminous for days, sans any stickiness or heaviness. Another great choice is the Dove Volume and Fullness Mousse, a true drugstore gem that keeps frizz, static, and flyaways at bay while pumping up the volume. Finally, we’re big fans of the Amika Plus Size Perfect Body Mousse for creating the beach waves of our dreams, keeping hair soft and flexible—and, more importantly, never crunchy. 

What to Look for in a Volumizing Mousse
Hydrating Ingredients

As Dixon mentions above, the best volumizing mousses will also hydrate the hair. She recommends looking for products that contain nourishing oils and butters, such as avocado oil, in addition to volumizing and thickening ingredients like polymers. On the other hand, it’s also important to avoid formulas that can potentially dry out the hair. Shelly Aguirre, also a hairstylist at Maxine Salon, says that mousses of the past contained a lot of alcohol and were super drying, and while this has mostly been improved upon in today’s formulas, it’s still something to keep in mind and look out for.

Vitamin-Rich Formulas

Aguirre also recommends looking for products with vitamin-rich formulas, as vitamins are essential for overall hair health. A vitamin-packed formula will help keep your hair in tip-top shape, especially if you'll be using heat to finish off your style.

Non-Crunchy Finish

Finally, look for a product that will leave limp hair voluminous, soft, and flexible—not crunchy or stiff. Aguirre mentions polymers as a great active ingredient for both thickening and conditioning the hair, while silicones will offer the hair a bit of slip. Caffeine is also another great plumping ingredient that won’t leave the hair feeling crispy.

Does volumizing mousse work?

According to Aguirre, 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 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 hair upwards while blow-drying to add extra lift at the roots.

As for how to use any volumizing mousse? “Emulsify the mousse in your hands first and then apply on wet hair from root to tip, working it into the hair with either your fingers or a comb,” suggests Dixon. “Make sure it really gets into the root for the best volumizing effect.”