When you go shopping at the drugstore for hair-care products, a veritable arsenal of options will await you. There are mousses, gels, creams and serums, and each product has a unique purpose. For the uninitiated, one of the biggest questions is, “Do I need mousse or gel?” Or perhaps, “Is mousse essentially gel for wet hair?” The answer to the first question is that it depends, while the second question is a decided “no.”
There are basics that mousses and gels are used for, but nothing in hair care is consistent. Some people have hair that holds one product better than another, or that can accommodate using a product for something other than its intended purpose. In cases such as these, ignore the status quo and do what works for your hair, using the product that helps you achieve the style you want.
A mousse is a lightweight foam that comes out of the container very freely because of its light weight. When you use mousse, you want to have an equal amount in both hands and apply it to your hair with a very light and deliberate touch from the root to the tip. It is not necessary to scrunch mousse during the application process. Many people will do this, but it is a holdover from gel usage, where scrunching is employed.
After you have applied your mousse, dry your hair and style as usual. Mousse helps add volume to your hair and can help in creating certain hairstyles that begin to be crafted while the hair is still wet. I find that I can get very straight yet full hair if I apply mousse to my hair and then brush it straight back with no part and allow it to air-dry. On the other hand, my mother used mousse to help her keep her permed hair full and bouncy, which makes it a very versatile product.
Gel is sticky and heavy, and results can vary even more greatly from person to person when using gel vs. mousse. This also holds true when it comes to gels from various companies; every one is slightly different. I have medium to thick hair and find that I can take a dollop of gel and rub it into my palms and then lightly touch my hair with the gel from root to tip to combat frizz on even very humid days. I have friends whose hairstyle would be lost with a similar application.
The typical application for gel is as a shape definer. It is the product you would typically “scrunch” into your hair upon applying, if you are looking to accentuate curls or waves within your hair. Unlike mousse, which you must apply to wet hair, gel works best on dry or just slightly damp locks.
Some people use gel to create spiky hair styles and other highly textured looks as well. In these instances, a gel with a thicker consistency is best employed.
Gel and mousse both can be used to accentuate your hair, but each serves a different purpose in your hair care supply closet.