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What is the Difference Between Hair Mousse and Gel?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 16, 2024
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Hair mousse is usually sold in a foam-producing container. The container dispenses a whipped-cream like dollop of mousse that is made to add body to hair and help it stay in place. Hair gel, on the other hand, is often sold either in a squeezable plastic container or a plastic jar with a lid and is a jelly-like consistency that is made to hold hair firmly in the desired form. Although hair mousse and hair gel share some of the same properties, they are also quite distinct and are often used to create very different types of hairstyles.

Both hair mousse and hair gel work to make hair more manageable when styling it, but have very different effects if too much is used. Too much mousse usually creates stiff, brittle hair that may flake, while too much hair gel often results in hair that is too wet-looking and sticky. Both hair styling products require just a small amount to achieve the desired results.

A small dollop of hair mousse can add spring to curls or softness to any hair type, while a bit of hair gel can turn hair into a spike or create a stiff wave. Hair gel, on the other hand, is useful for sculpting hair and for giving hair a harder-edged look. Some people use hair gel as a setting product in a pin curl or roller set to make the hold last longer. Many people use hair mousse when blow drying hair to maximize hair volume.

Good quality hair mousse has nutrients that enrich the hair while lifting it. Good quality hair gel has vitamins and fatty acids that coat the hair strands. Some hair gels are much too sticky and some low quality mousses can be more watery than foamy which only serves to make hair stiffer rather than fuller.

Hair gel is usually available in different levels of holding ability such as light, medium and super hold. Hair mousse may be sold in specific types for straight or curly hair, or texturizing or volumizing formulas. Both products may be formulated to add shine to hair.

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Discussion Comments

By anon979460 — On Nov 26, 2014

"Good quality hair mousse has nutrients that enrich the hair while lifting it. Good quality hair gel has vitamins and fatty acids that coat the hair strands."

"Nutrients that enrich"? Any wisegeek would know that anything trying to treat treat the hair outside the scalp does no such thing as nourishing or enriching hair.

Anything that you put on your hair goes on the hair. It may cause the hair to be more or less curly, or it may damage the hair, but it is not going to make the hair itself any better.

By anon122997 — On Oct 30, 2010

@anon27825: Um, you could try straightening your hair or using an anti-frizz serum?

By cmsmith10 — On Jul 04, 2010

@anon27825: I also have curly hair and wanted to wear my hair in a spiked haircut. I got it cut pretty short and my stylist recommended hair wax for me. It has worked very well. I put the wax around the tips of my hair and it helps it to stay in that "spiked" style.

By cmsmith10 — On Jul 04, 2010

Hair gel is a lot thicker than mousse. Gel is used more when the “wet look” is desired or to maintain a style that needs a little extra hold. Gel tends to weigh your hair down.

Mousse is more lightweight and foamy. It is used more for adding volume to hair. Since it is lightweight, it doesn’t weigh the hair down.

By anon27825 — On Mar 06, 2009

my hair is too curly and i want a spiked haircut. how is it possible?

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