Mousse Vs Gel For Curly or Wavy Hair | Curly Girl Method

Mousse vs gel for wavy hair curly girl method

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It’s been almost two years that I’ve been following the curly girl method now! My hair will have a true curl (ringlet) or two on it’s best days, but it’s primarily wavy hair not curly hair. Though most people don’t really differentiate between the two – if hair is clearly not straight most people call it curly. I get comments about my ‘curly hair’ all the time.

In my almost-2 years of following the curly girl method I’ve experimented with different products, but gel or other products with hold is the area where I have experimented the least. I tried the $2 a bottle LA looks gel early on and it worked just fine for me so I’ve never really seen a reason to try other gels for the most part. However, I recently got reading the /r/curlyhair subreddit and found a few posts from fellow wavy haired curly girls discussing how much better mouuse works for them vs gel. In general, wavy hair seems to get weighed down more easily than hair that is truly curly. Mousse is more lightweight than gel so it can sometimes provide better results than gel for people with wavy hair. However, many wavy-haired people also have thin hair, while mine is thick both in density and in individual strands (I had microscopic hair analysis done so this is confirmed, not suspected).

I decided to test it out. Mousse vs gel for wavy hair. Which is better?

Mousse vs gel for curly hair or wavy hair. Which is better on the curly girl method?

I looked up some curly girl approved mousse options and looked at my local store. I wasn’t able to find the real cheap herbal essances totally twisted mousse at my local Meijer. That is commonly recommended for trying out mousse because it is curly girl approved and very cheap (around $4). I did find Not Your Mother’s Curl Talk Mousse for about $8 and decided to give it a shot. I absolutely love Not Your Mother’s Naturals ahitian gardenia flower & mango butter shampoo, so I thought I’d see what the brand had to offer in the way of mousse even though this is a different line.

Here is my hair one day a recently after using my regular LA looks gel.

Wavy hair using gel on the curly girl method

I read others say that while gel works best on dripping-wet hair, mousse seems to work better on very damp but not soaking wet hair. So the first time I tried the mousse, I didn’t use it upside down after finishing my shower (which is how I would use gel) but instead got out of the shower and got dressed before adding the mousse. I air dried, which I never do with gel because gel makes my hair take 10+ hours to dry so it’s just not an option. But with mousse, I wanted to see if I could air dry. Here are the results that I got:

Wavy hair mousse upright

I wasn’t happy with these results. Even after scrunching out the crunch, my hair felt hard and looked wet, hard and/or greasy. My scalp even felt a bit sticky so I knew I had used too much mousse. I found it was harder to tell if I had covered an area of my hair with mousse, where with gel I can feel my hair to see where it’s at. Once you scrunch in mousse, it feels like nothing. However, I also didn’t like how small my curl clumps were, and how stretched out my hair looked. I decided to go against what I had heard worked for others, and to tryr adding mousse to my hair upside down shortly after getting out of the shower to see if that helped me get biger clumps. I also decided to diffuse upside down to try to get more volume, and to see if drying my hair a bit quicker would keep my waves/curls from getting stretched out.

So in short, the second time of trying mousse I applied it shortly after leaving the shower, I applied it upside down, and I diffused for about 20 minutes. This left my hair perhaps 50% dry. I let it air dry the rest of the way. Here are my results the second time:

Wavy hair results with curly girl approved mousse

This time my hair had more volume, was less stretched out, I was able to scrunch out the crunch to get rid of the wet look – and I got more spirals! I was happy with these results. I think they were on par or slightly better than the results I get with gel.

Here are a side by side of mousse vs gel for wavy hair.

Mousse vs gel for wavy hair curly girl method

So far, it seems that the mousse results do flatten out quicker than the gel. With gel, I don’t usually refresh my hair at all. With mousse, my hair loses its definition by the end of the day or by the next morning even if I pineapple my hair at night. If I were to regularly use mousse, I’d have to wash my hair more often. However, saving the diffusing time is a huge bonus for me. With gel, I have to diffuse over an hour. I can definitely see myself using mousse on days when I want my hair to look good but don’t have the time required to use gel and diffuse for a full hour.

If you have naturally wavy hair and follow the curly girl method I’d love to hear what you think. Mousse vs gel what works better for your hair? If you do find that mousse works best for wavy hair, do you diffuse after using it or air dry? How do you apply it? What type of mousse is your favorite?


See more posts like this: Curly Girl Method

Comments 8

  • Louise

    It is thanks to your blog that I discovered the Curly Girl Method and thought for the first time that my hair may actually be wavy instead of horribly frizzy.
    It has been a revelation and since last April I have embraced it wholeheartedly!
    As for gels and mousse ….I use them both and do struggle to get consistent results. The only CG approved mousse I have used is Pantene Defined Curls no.5 mousse. Am in the UK but have seen US CG’s talk about it. I find it brilliant for refreshing on day 2/3 hair by glazing 3 golf ball sized pumps over hair before scrunching then diffusing for a while and then scrunching out the crunch. However I really struggle to make the mousse work on wash days for some reasom. On wash days I stick to leave in, a curl creme and a gel. My favourite gel is Giovanni LA hold gel…gives some hold and ‘grit’ to the hair which is what I need. My hair is fine dense 2b/2c and high porosity which am hoping will improve after the damage from old highlights and straightening has gone.

    Thanks so much for introducing me to this method and also for sharing your gel and mousse results here. ⭐️

  • Emmy - Author of Post,

    That’s so awesome that my blog helped you to discover your waves! It’s super cool to realize I’ve helped somebody! 🙂
    Oh, yep I’ve heard people talking about the Pantene curl defining mousse here in the states too. That’s interesting that mousse works well for you as a refresh but not for wash day. I haven’t tried adding more mousse when refreshing. I’m kind of sensitive to feeling like my hair has too much product in it so the idea of adding more mousse on day 2 kinda makes me worry that my hair will feel product-y if you know what I mean? I should try it and see though. I know some curly girls like using mousse and gel together though I’m not sure what the benefits of using both together are?
    I love the LA looks gel because it does last so long..and you get so much and it’s so cheap! It’s hard to go from a huge bottle for $2 to looking at bottles that have less than half the ounces and are $15 or something like that. I just can’t imagine other gels being that much better to make it worth the price, I guess. I know in some ways i’m lucky to have thick hair but in other ways I wish I was one of these girls who can use quarter-size amounts of products because it would be easier to justify the more expensive products if I didn’t have to use so much on my thick head of hair, haha. Anyway with the gel my day 2 and 3 hair isn’t as nice as day 1 but it holds well enough that i’m happy just leaving it be most of the time. When it does feel like it’s lost too much definition I just add a bit of water (just to barely damen the top of my hair) and scrunch, let it dry and then scrunch out the crunch. I really haven’t experiemnted a whole lot with other forms of rereshing. Or curl creams/curl enhancers either. I know creams/enhancers seem to really help some wavies get better or more uniform waves/curls but I don’t know of any curly girl approved ones that are under $10 or so and i’m too cheap for my own good.

  • Melissa Shreve

    I just purchased the surf set at bumble and bumble. I have been using the surf styling leave in and I have been liking it more than gel or mouse. Have you tried it?

  • Emmy - Author of Post,

    I haven’t – that’s awesome it’s working so well for you. My hair type seems to really need a product with a strong hold. My hair is heavy and doesn’t support its own weight well without something with hard hold so I’ve never found a leave-in other than gel or mousse that give me the support I need. My hair gets over-moisturized really easily too so leave-in conditioners and creams tend to make my hair oily as it’s not dry enough to need the added moisture.

  • Dee Mac

    It sounds as though we may have the same hair type. I have used the expensive products but I prefer the fructis mousse designed for curly hair types. It works amazing on my wavy hair and touch ups involve just a slight spritz of water and a quick diffusing. I did invest in the Dyson diffuser/hair dryer and absolutely love it

  • Debbie

    I use both, I use mousse and then remove some excess water and lightly apply gel then more mousse to finish before a casting gel. I have found this works best and holds my wavy curls for longer with no refresh x

  • Jesse

    Hey! First I want to say thank you SO MUCH for this website! Ive tried a few different times to follow the cgm with my waves and really struggled. Reading through your entries here has made a huge difference! Just on day 3, and I’m already having so much more success 🙂

    This may seem like a ridiculous question, but how do you apply the mousse? Scrunch it in? Comb it through? Ive been scrunching, which works pretty well, but I wasn’t sure if there were other ways to do this.

  • Sydney

    I have been experimenting lately with volumizing mouse from EvolVh. I still have to use gel last and I use Aussie instant freeze gel. I feel like the mouse leaves my hair very fluffy but producty. Without adding a little gel I loose my waves and end curls second day. I am using small amounts as I am one of those women with very fine low density high porosity hair. I read your other hair blog or newsletter, I am not sure what the difference is between the two. I generally love EvolVh products but not fond of volumizing products. They seem chalky and tend to make my hair too flyaway. These products are expensive but I can use a quarter size amount for my whole head. I live in Colorado but was born and raised in Michigan too.

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