Styling mousse first came on the scene back in the 1980s when big hair was the thing. Janet Jackson and Whitney Houston were the ladies who set the hair trends back then. I’m sure if you see pictures of your mom from the ’80s, you will see the waterfall bangs and curls that were teased, fried and crunchy. It was a cool look then. It’s not cool now. Hair styles and the products we use have changed over the decades. Maya Smith, international master of natural curls and founder of The Doux hair-care line she created specifically for naturally curly hair, has seen the evolution of mousse from the very beginning to now. We caught up with Smith and scored some amazing tips and insights to help you know what ingredients to look for and how to best use mousse to maximize your modern style. —Vita Daily
Hi Maya! First to get things clear, what is the purpose of mousse? How has it changed from when you first saw it back in the day? What is the main difference from the mousse we see today and those from the ’80s and ’90s? Were they intended for different kinds of styles, textures?
When I started in the industry, the ’90s hair was in full effect. Naturally curly girls used mousse to create the Hillary Banks (Fresh Prince of Bel Air) “wet” look. For volume a diffuser was used to get hair to stand up at the roots. The visual results were awesome, but if you tried to re-style your hair once it dried, you were in big trouble! While it was used on curly weaves, extensions, and wigs, mousse wasn’t even an option for girls with super-tight curls or kinky textures. These days, mousse is still used to achieve great definition and shine, but less emphasis is placed on how high your hair stands up, or how stiff the overall look is. It’s much more about softness and movement.
What are some ingredients to look for? What’s good and what should be avoided?
Always be sure to look at the ingredients when shopping for products because this can make a big difference. Ingredients such as sodium laurel sulfate (SLS), isopropyl, and prolyene have been found to cause breakage and dry out your hair. The best way to achieve healthy hair is to have that balance between protein and moisture.
What causes that crunch and what were some of the problems with the mousse options available that inspired you to create your own? Can mousse be combined with other products? What are the benefits of combining products and steps?
It’s common for mousse to be combined with gel or cream because most mousses on the market contain alcohol to make the hair dry faster. They are also polymer rich, which creates a sticky coating on the hair, much like a hairspray. This can leave hair feeling dry and stiff. We formulated our Mousse Def as an all-in-one solution for this problem. It creates the shine and definition of a mousse, yet leaves hair soft and touchable with no flaking.
How does mousse compare to gels and balms? Are gels a thing of the past? Can a balm be used in place of a mousse?
Mousse and gels are water-based products that contain polymers and holding agents that “stiffen” on the hair shaft in order to hold the hair in place. On the other hand, balms, pomades, and control pastes are what we call emulsions, are a mix of oils and water. The Doux’ Bonita Afro Balm is an emulsion developed for moisture and softness that also contains a small amount of polymer for a softer, more flexible hold.
Finally, are salon or professional brands worth the money? Do they contain better ingredients?
Yes. Products that were formulated for salon use typically contain a higher quality of ingredients. They also contain less water and fillers, so you’re getting a more concentrated product with longer-standing results.
What other advice can you offer to girls with natural curls who want to mix up their hair styles?
Try something new. Gone are the days when heavy pomades and gels were your only styling options. Girls who have natural curls deserve to enjoy lighter products that are easy to apply, and create bounce and movement. Maximizing your natural god-given hair is what’s popular now.