Limp roots and a distinct lack of va-va-voom. It’s just no way to live. After both a pandemic and a longstanding trend for wash-and-go hair, volume, lift and larger-than-life locks are back, as per Adele’s bombshell blow dry in British Vogue’s November issue. Just in time for party season, the trend is accompanied by a hair product many of us have long stowed away at the back of our cupboards.
Hello hair mousse, our old friend. A mainstay in ’80s haircare routines, the fun, frothy foam has now had a revamp and there are a raft of new, easy-to-use formulas – which quickly inject body, movement and volume into limp and lifeless locks – on the market. “Since the ’80s, hair mousse has had a bad reputation for making hair look and feel crispy and congealed – that’s not what anyone wants anymore,” says hairstylist Luke Hersheson, who recently launched his own Zhoosh Foam. “Then in the ’90s they were used by hairdressers to create hold in big, old-school blow dries. The new generation of mousses is different.”
With new technology and innovation in the haircare market, many formulas – mousse included – are designed to help consumers achieve results fast. “Technology has moved on – and mousse formulas are a lot less sticky than they used to be in the ’80s,” agrees Guido Palau, Vogue’s contributing beauty editor. “You get good hold and a nice lift at roots from using it – in fact, I used it to boost volume in Adele’s hair for the Vogue cover shoot.” A fan by all accounts, he also lauds it as a helpful product to try if you’re attempting the wet look: “It’s a great all round product – I use it all the time.”
Hairstylist Larry King also joins Hershesons in launching a hair mousse this year. Acknowledging the product’s associations with the “terrible, sticky and crunchy” feel of days gone by, he says the newer iterations – and his own My Nanna’s Mousse – are his favorite and most-used products on all his clients, whatever hair type or gender. “The formulation we’ve created for My Nanna’s Mousse is soft, has a plumping and thickening effect, and leaves hair shiny, giving it just the right amount of bouncy volume and hold,” he says. “When you find a good mousse, it’ll become your absolute ride or die.”
Hersheson’s Zhoosh also offers a very modern approach to mousse. Employing different ingredients, such as powder and starches blended with a touch of thickener (as opposed to older formulations, which were full of them), it creates grit and hold without overloading the hair. It is a totally different kettle of fish to what you might remember: “What the new and old formulas have in common is the same delivery system,” he adds.
Of course, part of the problem with the mousses from days gone by is that the professionals were the only people who really knew how to use them. While today’s offering is much easier, there are still some tricks of the trade to know and understand before diving in – and if you’re stuck, there is YouTube to visit.
“Firstly, it’s about finding a product that works for you,” says Palau, who suggests trying a few formulations and/or talking to your hairdresser for recommendations. “Then I would say that if you’re not sure about a product, try it the day you’re going to wash your hair anyway and work out how much you need for it to work well. If you have finer hair, you’ll need more, while those with thick, coarse hair need to be careful as it can make it difficult to dry. Always apply to damp hair, not wet, otherwise it can take much longer.”
His other big piece of advice is to ensure the formula is properly dried into the hair, adding that a good way to achieve voluminous roots is to throw your head upside down and blast it with a dryer: “The idea of a mousse is to help the root stand away from the scalp,” he says. “So leaving it damp isn’t going to help that.” As for how to apply, King advises squirting the product into the palm of your hand and distributing evenly through the hair: “For curls and coils, focus on areas where they fall flat or struggle to coil, scrunching in an upwards motion. Rub it all over short hair to distribute evenly; longer lengths will also benefit from an even distribution, from root to tip.”
Other mousses, such as the Hersheson Zhoosh formula, can be used on dry hair instead, which makes it a great option for beginners or those hair mousse-hesitant. “It dries really quickly so feels like less risk because you can see what’s going on – when you put it onto wet hair, you’re relying on the whole drying process going correctly to get results,” he says. “This is like instant gratification.” The idea is to shake the blue bottle, spritz the mousse into your hands then comb it through your hair with your fingers. Then, go hell for leather on rubbing it into your hair until it’s dry. You’re left with mega oomph, defined curls and body. The higher the hair…
Originally published on Vogue.com