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Ask Belle: Add Volume to Hair with Mousse


Bumble and Bumble Thickening Mousse ($29)

As a genetic recipient of fine hair, mousse is the only product I have found that will actually thicken and lift my hair, even in humid weather.  But when I mentioned that mousse is part of my daily routine, a few of you had questions about how to properly apply the product, so as a fluffy foam aficionado, I thought I would post a few thoughts on proper mousse technique.

Which mousse should I buy? First, let’s talk about what kind of mousse to use.  The Bumble and Bumble above is a great product.  It isn’t sticky; it gives good lift and decent hold.  But why would I spend $29 on a can of mousse, when the drugstore brand works just as well?

Open my medicine cabinet, and you will find either the $6 Pantene Pro-V Extra Hold Mousse or the $4 Pantene Fine Hair Volume Mousse.  Both give lift and hold, but don’t leave a sticky or dulling residue.

How much should I use? If you apply too much, your hair will feel greasy and sticky.  Apply too little, and you might as well have wished for magical fairies to lift your locks.  When applying mousse, I like a golf ball-size amount.

How do I apply it? Some stylists recommend applying mousse to individual sections of hair and then coming each of them through.  This technique may be effective, but it takes FOREVER.  I don’t have this kind of time in the morning, and I don’t know any woman who does.  This is how I apply mousse:

Step 1. For best results, do not apply mousse to sopping wet hair.  Instead, towel it dry until it is damp.

Step 2.  Dispense a golf-ball size amount of product into your hand.  Transfer half of the product to your other hand, so that you have equal-ish amounts in both hands.  Flip your head down, and begin applying product to the hair near the scalp.

Step 3. Flip your head back over and apply any remaining product to the ends.  Then, using a wide-tooth comb, start at the roots and comb the product through.

Why a wide-tooth comb?  Because while you want to disperse the product throughout the hair, you don’t want to pull too much of the mousse away from the roots.

What if I use other products along with my mousse? In addition to mousse, I use a UV-protectant spray and Moroccan Oil Light on my hair.  I apply the spray before the mousse, and apply the oil after I apply the mousse.  And I only apply the oil to my ends, since I don’t want to weigh my hair down.

That covers my tips on how to use mousse.  If y’all have some tips that you would like to share or particular brands you love/hate, leave your thoughts in the comments.



  1. kelsey says:

    I also have fine hair- I use Paul Mitchell Awapuhi Wild Ginger Hydrocream Whip– long name, I know– but I love it! Not only does it smell fantastic, but it provides what it says it does: a lightweight, frizz-free volume. You don’t have to use much, and start application at ends of hair then working up to scalp.

    June 27, 2013/Reply
  2. Sarah says:

    So helpful Belle, thanks! What if I use a leave-in conditioner/detangler post shower?

    June 27, 2013/Reply
  3. BethW says:

    Do you have to blow-dry after applying the mousse, or can I just let my damp hair air dry?

    June 27, 2013/Reply
    • CH says:

      I let mine air-dry after mousse if I’m not straightening it – it seems to pump up the volume but keep the (natural) curls from getting too frizzy.

      June 27, 2013/Reply
  4. K says:

    This is super helpful!

    June 27, 2013/Reply
  5. E says:

    I have curly hair and I follow the same application steps minus the comb. It’s been the one thing that keeps my hair from being frizzy!

    June 27, 2013/Reply
  6. Elissa says:

    So after you apply the mousse, do you just style your hair like usual?

    June 27, 2013/Reply
    • Belle says:


      June 27, 2013/Reply
  7. Anne says:

    I have really fine hair, but a lot of it, and I love Aquage Uplifting Foam. There’s a great “how to use” video on the Small Things blog:

    June 27, 2013/Reply
  8. Joules says:

    Oh man, mousse for volume is the last thing my frizzy hair needs. I usually use serum to smooth it out and give it some semblance of normal hair.

    Style by Joules

    June 27, 2013/Reply