I’d like to have a moment of silence for 7th-grade me who thought the crunchy, stiff waves I wore to school every day was “cute.” And you should probably have a moment, too, because I know that you also spent the better part of middle school scrunching obscene amounts of mousse through your damp hair, until your head resembled uncooked ramen. That look was the only, and I mean only, way I thought I could use mousse in my hair. But a decade (and a few celebrity hairstylist friends) later, I’m here to tell you that not only was I completely wrong, but I now know that mousse is truly one the best products that will ever happen to your hair…if you use it correctly.
Understandably, mousse gets a bad rep, thanks to emotionally scarred individuals like me. “There’s always been a stigma surrounding mousse,” says hairstylist Kristin Ess, who is responsible for literally every excellent hairstyle Lucy Hale and Jenna Dewan Tatum have ever worn. “Most people just throw blobs of mousse in their hair and miss a bunch of spots, making it feel dry, sticky, fluffy, and dirty all at once.” But when used correctly, mousse can fix your most-annoying hair problems (like frizz, dullness, and flatness), while making your hair will look like the very definition of inspo-worthy. Seriously.
The trick, says Ess, is to apply the mousse evenly throughout the hair, and, most importantly, to make sure you’re using the right formula for your hair type. And because we love you (and mousse), we made her tell us in painstaking detail exactly how to do both of those things like a pro. So click through to find your new best friend, and high-five your inner 13-year-old while you’re at it.
For straight hair that's limp and lank...
"You want to use a volumizing mousse that can give your hair hold and lift. Using your fingers, rake a golf-ball-size puff through your damp roots, then flip the hair over and blast the roots with a blow-dryer for volume. For all-around volume, spray a thickening spray through your mid-lengths to ends before blowing it dry."
Kristin Ess Instant Lift Volumizing Mousse, $14; at Target
For wavy hair that frizzes...
"You'd actually want to use a curl-defining mousse, since it's going to help define your waves and lock them together, so they don't go rogue. With a wide-tooth comb, comb a baseball-size puff of mousse through your sopping wet hair, from root to tip, then let it air-dry. As it dries, wind small sections of damp hair around your fingers to create smooth, rope-y waves."
MoroccanOil Curl Control Mousse, $23; at MoroccanOil
For short, fine hair that needs some texture...
"Rake a small ball of mousse through your wet hair with your fingers, then, after rough-drying it with a blow-dryer, rake another ball of mousse through your dry hair for extra texture. The mousse gives slippery, fine hair some grip and support, so it won't fall flat when you try to work with it later."
Redken Full Frame 07, $19.50; at Ulta
For curly hair that falls flat...
"Always use a lightweight curl-enhancing mousse! It adds definition, shine, and hold for curls that go limp or fall out really easily. With a wide-tooth comb, rake a baseball-size puff of mousse through your damp hair, from root to tip, then air-dry. If your curls tend to really deflate, though, you can diffuse the roots for a couple minutes while tilting your head side from side to side or upside down, then let the rest of it air-dry naturally."
Dove Curls Defining Mousse, $3.94; at Target
For hair that's filled with hair extensions...
"It sounds weird, but a volumizing mousse can actually make extensions blend in better with your natural hair, since it adds a bit of space between your roots and the start of the extension. Just gently massage a bit through your roots and, with a round brush, blow the top layer of your hair up and out for volume."
Big Sexy Hair Root Pump Volumizing Spray Mousse, $18.95; at Big Sexy Hair
Big Sexy Hair