Hair styling foams, also sometimes known as mousses, are among the most popular and versatile hair styling products out there. You’ve probably used a couple yourself! Whether you have fine or thick hair, pin-straight or curly, hair foam can help you bring definition and lift to your hairstyle without a lot of effort. Let’s find out how you can use hair styling foam to achieve your dream hair, and then… let’s help you find the best hair foam for your hair type and needs. It’s time to turn up the volume!
Styling Foam 101
What is styling foam?
Styling foam is a styling product with multiple benefits: it brings volume to fine hair, definition to wavy and curly hair, and an unrivaled blend of bouncy movement and frizz control to every single hair type.
Styling foams are also referred to as styling mousses; some brands will argue that there’s a concrete difference between a “foam” and a “mousse”, but more often than not the two will be interchangeable. Pick your styling product by its announced benefits, and not by whether it’s called foam or mousse!
What is styling foam used for?
You can use styling foam to achieve a huge variety of different hair goals, for example:
- Lifting and volumizing the roots of fine or thinning hair;
- Defining waves and curls;
- Texturizing the hair to facilitate handling and styling;
- Minimizing frizz by wrapping the hair in a layer of styling product;
- Increasing the volume, bounce, and movement of the hair.
Do you apply mousse to wet or dry hair?
Styling mousse works best when you apply it to slightly damp, towel-dried hair.
How do you style your hair with styling foam?
Start with damp, towel-dried hair. Then, dispense a good amount of hair foam onto your hand: anywhere from a chestnut to a golf ball, depending on your hair. Rub your hands together, then run them through the lengths and ends of your hair in order to distribute the product. Work in small sections, and feel free to add more product if you run out before you’ve “coated” your whole hair!
Once you’re done with the lengths and ends, dispense a little more product and work it into the roots of your hair with a gentle scalp massage. This will help you create lift and volume at the root, where your hair needs it the most.
From here, you’ve got a couple of options: you can brush through and style as usual, or you can flip your hair upside down and scrunch it up using your fingers (if you have waves or curls, this might be your best best). As far as drying goes, you’ve got options too: you can let your hair air dry, or you can blow dry it using your favorite technique: blow dry with a round brush for added volume, or blow dry with a diffuser for greater wave and curl definition.
How often should you use hair foam?
Most brands recommended that you use styling foam on damp or towel-dried hair, which already limits your use of this product to hair wash days. If you wash your hair 2-3 times a week, you’ll be using styling foam 2-3 times a week. If you wash your hair every day, you’ll be using styling foam every day, which may be a little excessive for some hair types.
Regardless of which option you go for, we recommend using a clarifying shampoo once a week, or every two weeks, to ensure that you don’t accumulate too much product build-up in your hair.
6 Styling Foams for Every Hair Type
Depending on your hair type and texture, some foams may work better for you than others. Here are some of our favorites:
Aveda Phomollient Styling Foam
Best for fine hair
One of the most popular hair foams on the market, the Aveda Phomollient Styling Foam gives fine and medium-density hair the opportunity to showcase some serious body and volume.
With a lightweight formula that doesn’t weight down fine hair, this mousse is perfect for creating voluminous but not necessarily wavy or curly hairstyles. If you have fine hair and just want weightless volume, with long-lasting shine and light to medium hold (think movie star hair), this foam is ideal for you.
How to use: apply to damp hair, then blow dry using a round or paddle brush for extra shine.
Redken Guts 10 Volume Spray Foam
Best for flat roots
The Redken Guts 10 Volume Spray Foam foam is not like other foams: more than other foams on the market, this one focuses on bringing volume and lift to the roots. If you have heavy hair, with a tendency to look flat and lifeless, you know that the problem starts right at the root.
With this mousse, you can lift your hair from root to tip, while adding fullness and thickness to your locks. The finish of this medium control foam is smooth but natural, adding some control against frizz and flyaways.
How to use: apply to towel-dried hair, then blow dry from roots to mid-lengths, using a round brush, to boost volume and lift.
Nioxin 3D Styling Bodifying Foam
Best for thinning hair
Nioxin is a hair care brand focused on hair thinning and hair loss, so it’s no wonder that their styling foam targets these concerns specifically. Indeed, the Nioxin 3D Styling Bodifying Foam is formulated with Prothick technology, an exclusive combination of thickening polymers that wrap around each hair strand for added thickness and volume.
The mousse itself is lightweight and provides medium hold–its greatest asset really is in its ability to add body and thickness to each hair strand, creating an appearance of a fuller head of hair and making styling so much easier.
How to use: apply to damp or towel-dried hair and blow-dry for added volume.
American Crew Tech Series Texture Foam
Best for men
Ideal for men with longer hair who want to always look their best, the American Crew Tech Series Texture Foam is a product not to be missed.
As easy to apply as a hair gel, but with a texture and hold much more suited to the needs of longer hair, this foam brings added volume and texture to the hair, making styling easier. With a lightweight texture that doesn’t “pull” the hair down, this mousse offers long-lasting hold with a naturally glossy finish.
How to use: apply to damp hair, then air dry naturally or style with blowdryer. Can also be applied to dry hair.
Sebastian Professional Twisted Styling Foam
Best for curl definition
There are foams that are more focused on volume, and then there are foams that are more focused on defining waves and curls–like this Sebastian Professional Twisted Styling Foam.
With a lightweight, non-sticky texture, this mousse cradles your curls and helps them maintain their flexibility and bounce throughout the day–instead of pulling them down or leaving them crunchy and unmovable. In addition to this natural, flexible definition, this foam also gives you added frizz control, so nothing gets in the way of your perfectly defined curls.
How to use: apply to damp hair with scrunching movements. Let the hair air dry, or use a diffuser to intensify your natural waves and curls.
Nivea Volume Care Styling Mousse Extra Strong Hold
Best for hydration
Nivea Volume Care Styling Mousse Extra Strong Hold is much more than a styling product: it is also a hair care product. Indeed, the formula combines panthenol, vitamin B3, and heat protection to help protect hair from daily aggressions, including heat styling.
But what does the finish look like, you ask? Well, this foam gives you long-lasting volume and hold that last up to 24 hours, all without drying your hair–and without creating that sticky effect we associate with old-timey hair mousses. Not anymore!
How to use: apply to damp hair, then blow dry to increase hair volume.
Now that you’ve “met” a few different types of hair styling foams, you’re only a hair wash away from achieving more bouncy and voluminous hair. Explore our full selection of styling products in the shop, and make your hair dreams come true!
Beauty Writer & Editor