Mousse vs Gel: Which Hair Styling Product is Right for You?

Wondering the difference between mousse vs gel and which you should be using? You’re not alone. The two products often get confused for doing the same thing. But they have very different effects on different hair types. Keep reading as we break down the differences and similarities of hair gel and hair mousse including the pros and cons of each, their styling effects and hair hacks for using our hair products in your hair care routine.

Understanding Mousse

Hair mousse is a lightweight and airy hair styling product that comes pressurized in a can or bottle and is dispersed as foam. It’s perfect for creating a natural, bouncy style with light definition. Following is a breakdown of the benefits and drawbacks of using mousse.

Benefits of Using Mousse

Mousse is a styling product that has many benefits when used correctly. These are our favorite reasons to use mousse.

Adds volume and body

Mousse is ideal for adding volume to fine or thin hair. It gives body and bounce to limp strands, enhancing loose waves and curls.

Creates texture and definition

Mousse is also great for creating beachy waves and adding texture. It helps tame frizz, creating definition keeping frizzy hair at bay.

Gives lightweight hold

Mousse is a lightweight styling product that offers hold without weighing down your strands.

Easy to use

Mousse is easy to apply and can be used on wet or dry or hair hair.


Mousse is a versatile styling product that works on different hair lengths to create a wide range of hairstyles, from tousled beach waves to sleek, straight hair.

Drawbacks of Using Mousse

While mousse has many benefits when used correctly, there are also some drawbacks to using this styling product. These are the less than ideal side effects of using mousse.

Doesn’t provide a strong hold

Mousse only provides a light hold, which may not work for shorter hairstyles or very curly hair.

Can leave your hair feeling dry and sticky

Mousse can sometimes leave the hair feeling sticky or tacky, especially if too much is used. This can dry out your strands, especially if you have fine hair.

May not work for all hair types

While mousse is suitable for a wide range of hair types, it may not work well for those with shorter styles for very curly or natural hair. It is also not effective in high-humidity.

Doesn't last long

Because it’s such a lightweight styling product, mousse often requires reapplication to make your style last.

This is a Curl Gel Oil

Understanding Gel

Hair gel is a styling product used to add strong hold and definition so your hair stays locked in place. Hair gel is great for creating sleek, defined hairstyles that require strong hold. Following is a breakdown of the benefits and drawbacks of using hair gel.

Benefits of using gel

Going brunette is a great hair look for those with thin hair. That’s because dying your hair a darker shade is less damaging than going lighter. This is especially important for thinning hair that’s already prone to damage. Plus, dark rich shades are flattering for most complexions.

Provides a strong hold

Provides strong, long-lasting hold and definition to all hair types, keeping any hairstyle in place.

Adds shine

Gel adds major shine to the hair, giving a glossy, sleek seal to strands of all types, from straight hair to wavy hair to natural textures and curls.

Defines curls

A curl gel is especially beneficial for people with curly hair, (so add it to your curly hair products‌ game!). It helps to define curls and tame frizz, fighting frizzy hair even in high humidity.

Easy to apply

Gel is easy to apply and can be used on damp or dry hair. It Layers well with other styling products including creams and oils for added hydration.


A molding gel can be used to create a wide range of hairstyles, from slicked-back styles to messy, textured looks. You can use it to scrunch for loose definition or finger coil for tight curls.

Drawbacks of Using Gel

You should consider the following drawbacks before using gel.

Can leave a residue

Gel can leave behind a residue and be difficult to remove. It can leave your hair feeling sticky, crunchy, or brittle if you use too much or don't wash it out properly. 

Can be drying

Most gel contains alcohol which can be drying to the hair and scalp, weakening the hair shaft.

Can be heavy

Gel can be overly heavy and weigh hair down, especially if you use too much or apply it incorrectly.

Can be difficult to re-style

Once gel has set, it can be difficult to restyle your hair without washing it out and starting over so make sure you’re ready to commit.

May or may not work on all hair types

While gel is great for people with thick, curly, or unruly hair, it may not be the best choice for people with fine or thin hair.

Gel in curls

Mousse vs. Gel: Comparing the Two

This comparison is a breakdown of where mousse vs gel stand in the following categories.


Gel typically provides a stronger hold than mousse, making it a better choice for creating structured hairstyles or controlling unruly hair. Mousse, on the other hand, provides a lighter hold that is ideal for creating more natural-looking hairstyles.


Mousse adds volume and texture to hair, making it a great choice for people with fine or thin hair who want to create more fullness and body. Gel can also add texture, but it tends to be heavier and can weigh down fine hair.


Gel often adds shine to hair, while mousse typically does not. If you want a glossy, shiny look, gel may be the better choice.

Ease of use

Both products are easy to use and can be applied to damp or dry hair. However, mousse tends to be more forgiving than gel and can be more easily restyled throughout the day.


Mousse and gel both contain different ingredients that can affect hair health. Some mousses may contain other ingredients, such as silicones, that can build up on hair over time.

Final Thoughts

The main difference between mousse vs gel is the definition and hold each product offers. A mousse offers a lightweight, bouncy hold that doesn’t last long By comparison, a gel offers strong definition and long lasting hold which is great for sleek styles. Whether to use a mousse or a gel depends on your desired look and how long you need it to last. For a messy, textured hairstyle go for mousse. For a sleek, structured style, opt for the gel. Whether you choose a mousse or gel, remember to use quality hair products like the ones from Davines. To speak more with a stylist about your hair and using gel vs mousse, book an appointment at a salon near you.

by Jaclyn LaBadia, featured contributor

A transformative gel-to-oil texture, with hydrating properties for curl shape and definition.

For adding airy volume to any type of hair.

This Is A Curl Moisturizing Mousse helps curls maintain their bounce and structure.

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