Mousse vs. Gel for Curly Hair

Posted by Verb Team on

Curly hair requires special care and regardless of your curl type, you probably have several products to maintain your look. Two of the most popular curly hair products are gel and mousse, but there can be a lot of confusion about the differences between the two and which is better for curly hair.

To help you pick the right product, we’ll explain what hair mousse and gel are along with the pros,cons and differences of each option. Plus, we’ll answer a few common questions about these products, including if you can use gel and mousse together and how you should go about doing so.

What is hair mousse?

Hair mousse is a lightweight and airy product that comes pressurized in a can or bottle and is dispersed as foam. In fact, the term “mousse” is actually French for foam. Mousse adds light hold and volume that creates a natural look.

It typically works most effectively on wet hair, but can also be used on dry hair when you don’t have time for a wash. Mousse is ideal for natural, loose voluminous styles with light definition.

Hair mousse pros

  • Adds light hold without weighing hair down
  • May increase volume and bounce for loose waves and curls
  • May help tame frizz
  • Works well for hair of mid-long length
  • Can be used on wet or dry hair

Hair mousse cons

  • Only provides light hold, which may not work for short, curly hairstyles
  • May not work in mid to high humidity climates
  • Lacks moisture and can dry out fine hair
  • Doesn’t add a noticeable definition for tight curls

What is hair gel?

Hair gel is a styling product used to add strong hold and definition so your hair stays in place throughout the day. It usually comes in a jar or tube in the form of a thick, jelly-like substance that can be clear or colored.

It’s easy to spread over your hair and dries quickly to lock in your hairstyle. Hair gel is great for creating a sleek, defined hairstyle that requires strong hold or even a lighter style that you want to last longer without constant maintenance.

Hair gel pros

  • Can provide strong, long-lasting hold and definition
  • May fight frizz and tame flyaways, even in strong humidity
  • Layers well with other styling products including creams and oils
  • Versatile styling options — you can scrunch for loose definition or finger coil for tight curls

Hair gel cons

  • Can be overly heavy and weigh hair down
  • May contain harsh chemicals like alcohol that weaken the hair shaft
  • Gel may leave your hair feeling sticky, crunchy or brittle after drying

Differences between using hair mousse and gel for curls

The main difference between a hair mousse vs. gel is the definition and hold each product offers. A mousse offers light definition for loose, bouncy curls — but the hold may not last long.By comparison, a gel often offers strong definition and long-lasting hold which is great for sleek styles. 

Is gel or mousse better for curly and wavy hair?

One product isn’t always better than the other, whether you should use a mousse or a gel depends on the curly hairstyle you’re going for. If you’re going for a natural loose and airy look — a mousse is the product you should use. 

If you’re going for a sleek, defined style — opt for the gel. Just be sure to also consider the maintenance you’re willing to deal with. Mousse offers less hold, so choosing it over a gel means you might need some touch ups throughout the day. .

Can I use a mousse and a gel together?

You can use a mousse and gel together, and experimenting with both products can be a great way to create a unique style or at the least, see which option you prefer. If you choose to use both products, you should always start with the mousse before the gel. 

This is because the gel will harden up after application, so it’s easier to start with the light mousse first and then add a little bit of gel afterward depending on where you want firm hold and definition.. 

Just keep in mind that layering several products can weigh your hair down, so you may want to skip using some of your other stylers on days when you’re using a gel and a mousse.

Get the perks of a mousse and a gel in a single product

For those blessed with natural curls, the journey to finding the “perfect” styling product can often feel like a never-ending quest. We want defined curls without the dreaded crunchiness or heaviness that traditional gels or mousses can leave behind. 


Instead of choosing between a mousse or gel, get the best of both worlds with our Curl Foaming Gel. With a lightweight consistency to distribute evenly on your waves, curls and coils, it offers the frizz control and definition of gel, with the crunch-free finish of a mousse. Our Curl Foaming Gel can reduce frizz by 84% and can increase curl retention by 29%!* 

*proven results in a third-party testing lab Our Curl Foaming Gel is formulated with jojoba oil and our proprietary Sunflower Curl™ Complex, which can help to deeply nourish and lock in moisture for curls that are hydrated, light and defined. It’s also paraben-free, gluten-free, vegan and has no harmful sulfates. 


To style your curls with the Curl Foaming Gel, simply dispense a small amount into your palms and distribute evenly through damp hair, gently scrunching the ends to enhance curl definition. 

Whether you choose to air dry or diffuse, our Curl Foaming Gel can leave your curls looking and feeling their best. Plus, it can work great for refreshing curls and waves on second and third-day hair, to help maintain your curls and waves with less effort!

Looking for more curl products? Shop the collection!

Learning how to choose the right products for curly hair can be overwhelming — but with the help of the right ingredients and methods, anything is possible. 

Need help choosing the right products for your curly hair? Check out our in-depth curly hair product guide that includes specific recommendations for each type. Or head to our Curl Collection for more options that are good for waves, coils and kinks of all kinds! Take our hair quiz if you’re unsure about what type you have!

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