Buying Beauty - We Test Hair Volumizers
Please write:
Return to Page One
Register here to receive Fashion Finds
email updates!

We Test Hair Volumizers: 

L'Oreal Body Vive Add-In Body Spray
Physique Amplifying Foam Mousse
Paul Mitchell Extra Body Sculpting Foam
Charles Worthington Dream Hair Volumizing Mousse

By Darcy Meadows

Remember the movie This Is Spinal Tap? There's a scene when one of the band members proudly shows off the volume control on his guitar amp. He boasts, "It goes all the way to 11!"

Well, lots of us have hair that needs to be volumized all the way to 11 too!

That's why we at Fashion Finds embarked on a quest to test hair volumizing products offered by both high priced brands and drugstore brands. We selected a group of products consisting of the following popular drug store brands: L'Oreal's Body Vive Add-In Body Spray ($2.99) and Physique's Amplifying Foam Mousse ($5.99). From the hair salon brands, we chose Charles Worthington's Dream Hair Volumizing Mousse ($10.00) and Paul Mitchell's Extra Body Sculpting Foam ($7.99).

As with lots of products, these had strong scents. Physique's Amplifying Foam has a very fruity, fresh scent. It's nice, but a bit overpowering. Paul Mitchell's Extra Body Sculpting Foam has a very medicinal, alcohol-like scent. When I first used it, I joked with my sister that I'd better stay away from smokers and their cigarette lighters! However, the moment after you apply Paul Mitchell, the odor dissipates and you can't detect a scent at all. L'Oreal's Body Vive Add-In Body Spray has a wonderfully sweet, feminine scent. It's not an easy scent to describe, except to say that it smells like a delicious flowery perfume. And Charles Worthington's Dream Hair at first smells like an old fashioned perfume. Then, when you apply it, it actually smells like an absurdly overpowering men's cologne. In short, I'd say "yuck!".

As you'll see, it's important to note that all four products' instructions tell you to style as usual.

Once we had the products, I had to pick the testers. This month it was rather an easy choice, because I was going out of town for a few weeks, and my deadline was right at the end of my trip! The friends I was going to be staying with, Angela and Heather, were further inconvenienced by my asking them to be Fashion Finds product testers. In the end, I think they were happy they did. My sister, Robin, and I were the other two testers, rounding out the fabulous four!

Angela is half Asian, half Caucasian. She has waist length heavy hair, very straight and thick. Angela does not normally use a volumizing product at all. When I told her about the test, she asked, "But would a volumizing product work on hair as long and heavy as mine?" I gave her my legendary mocking glance and replied, "That's why we are testing them!" :-)

Heather is Caucasian, and has slightly shorter than shoulder length, normally thick hair. Heather doesn't normally use a volumizing product, because she's very picky about things weighing her hair down, and giving it a "crispy" look and feel. Au natural is her goal.

Robin is also Caucasian. She has long hair that is damaged from a perm. She needs extra moisture to keep it looking healthy. Robin also complains a lot about how thin her hair is, so she was a great choice for the test.

I am Caucasian, with waist length, very fine hair. Overall, it's pretty healthy, but certainly not thick. I normally use L'Oreal's Body Vive Add-In Body Spray, which I like well enough to have suggested it to Gina as one of the testing products.

Robin tested all the products before I left for my vacation. She first tried Physique's Amplifying Foam. "It made my hair very soft, and a tiny bit fuller-looking than it normally is." Robin found it easy on her hair, making it look soft and shiny. It didn't irritate any of her damage. As for overall volume, she didn't think Amplifying Foam was amplifying enough. "It seemed like it was going to be a good thickening product, but it petered out pretty quickly. You know how a lot of these products are great when applied to towel-dried hair, but the minute it's dried completely, the fullness disappears. Such was the case with this one." Robin had no allergic reactions to report. Next, Robin tried L'Oreal's Body Vive Add-In Body Spray, which she simply stated did nothing for her whatsoever. She had no allergic or adverse reactions to Body Vive. Next, she tried Paul Mitchell's Extra Body Sculpting Foam. "It did hold the style really well, and seemed to add a significant amount of body to my naturally thin hair." She had no allergic reactions to Paul Mitchell. Last, Robin tried Charles Worthington's Dream Hair. She seriously did not enjoy this product at all, reporting that it was sticky and thick, whereas the other products made her hair very soft and manageable. The worst thing about this product, said Robin, was that applying it to damp hair and then using a hairdryer caused it to turn into a glue-like substance. The process itself made her hair have the appearance you sometimes get when you use too much hair spray and it "flakes." One day, Robin was late picking her son up from school, and had to comb the Dream Hair(!) out , eventually getting rid of the majority of the mess. She reported the next morning, "Yeah, it sure does add volume! In the manner that your hair gets so knotted that you can't comb it out!" Robin's final comments on these products, "I'm sticking to my regular -- John Frieda's Ready To Wear Quick Coif Thickening and Volumizing Mousse. It gives me the volume I need, the softness I love, and no mess. But if I had to pick from the four test products, I would suggest Paul Mitchell. Avoid the Worthington!"

Heather was the next to complete the product testing. She tried the Paul Mitchell Extra Body Sculpting Foam first. She really enjoyed the fact that it wasn't a heavy-feeling product. Heather said Paul Mitchell held the volume nicely, giving her a nice full style, without weighing the hair down. Heather suffered no allergic reactions or adverse effects. Next, she tested Charles Worthington Dream Hair. Unlike Robin, Heather liked this product rather well. It held her style nicely. When she tested it, Heather did not use a hair dryer, so she didn't experience the sticky substance that ended up in Robin's blow-dry hair. Heather had no allergic reactions to Worthington. Next, Heather tried L'Oreal Body Vive Add-In Body Spray. She liked Body Vive for its easy application (no mess), and the fact that it wasn't at all a heavy product. "I loved the softness it offered, and how it tamed any wild stray hairs, as well as adding body." She had no allergic reactions to Body Vive. Last, Heather tested Physique's Amplifying Foam. "It didn't really appear to give me any more body. It left my hair soft and shiny, but not any fuller." Heather didn't have any allergic reactions to the Physique product. Overall, Heather selected Paul Mitchell as her favorite, for its definite body adding formula. In second place, she placed L'Oreal, for its ability also tame any "frizzies." Worthington came in third, and fourth, Physique. "They were all good products! Each one would be useful for different hair types, Paul Mitchell just worked best on my hair type."

Angela first tested Charles Worthington Dream Hair. Remember, Angela has thick Asian hair. She uses a hair dryer, because her hair is so long it takes hours to dry. Angela tried Dream Hair on a weekend, finding Robin's warning quite useful. The blow-drying process, in her case as well, turned the product into a sticky, flaking mess. She was lucky enough to have the time to rewash her hair. With hair as long as hers, washing is not a quick process, so we'd like to "shame, shame" Worthington for their lack of product testing. Is it possible they haven't noticed that the formula changes consistency, and literally "bakes" when heat is applied? But Angela suffered no allergic reactions. Next, Angela tried Physique's Amplifying Foam. She didn't notice any change in her hair's body with this product. She had no allergic reactions using Physique. Next, Angela tried Paul Mitchell's Extra Body Sculpting Foam, and found that it gave her a little more body than she normally has. She reported that it gave her hair a nice texture, and didn't weigh the hair down. "I'd suggest this product to people with long hair, including those whose hair is less heavy than mine. It would work great on lighter hair!" She did not have any allergic reactions. Last, Angela tried L'Oreal's Body Vive Add-In Body Spray. "I loved this product! It was the best for me, because it is a light and airy spray that dries quickly, and holds the body even after it's dried. And definitely I loved that hair drying isn't a danger to society when using this one!" And Angela loved Body Vive's price. Angela's overall rankings for the products tested place L'Oreal as number one, then Paul Mitchell, Physique, and last, Worthington.

I normally use L'Oreal Body Vive Add-In Body Spray, and have for several years. I love the scent, I love the price, and mostly I love that it tames the "frizzies," without weighing down my hair. It makes my hair soft, fluffy, shiny and full of body. I love it! The next product I tried was Physique's Amplifying Foam. It made absolutely no difference in my hair. It was nice smelling, and left my hair soft and easily manageable. But as for body, nothing! I did notice, however, that the two times I tested Amplifying Foam, my scalp itched a lot -- something I have never have problems with. I think it was the Physique product that caused the irritation. I tried Paul Mitchell next, and really, really loved the product. It made my hair not only look thicker; it felt thicker. Angela and I visited a friend we had met over the Internet, and while we were discussing hair, her daughter piped up, saying how she loved my "beautiful, thick hair." I told her my hair is not thick at all. It's so thin that when I leave it straight, you can see my back through it. They looked at me as if I was insane, saying my hair looks very thick and shiny. (Yes, I'm fooling the masses already!! Thanks, Paul!) I had no adverse reactions to Extra Body Sculpting Foam. Last, I tried Charles Worthington's Dream Hair. I noticed right away that it did add thickness to my hair. I always let it dry naturally, combing my hair to sort of "frame" my face. But it usually loses its shape quickly. However, with Worthington it held it very nicely. The next morning my hair still felt thicker than it usually does. My only major complaint is that the fragrance is awful! My final decision would be to recommend Paul Mitchell and L'Oreal.

While on vacation, I attended a movie premiere. Let's just say that Matthew McConaughey was in the house, so it was imperative that I look my best! To show you my trust in the product, I used Paul Mitchell that night, and a woman at the premiere kept mentioning my "beautiful" hair. Unfortunately, Matthew didn't sweep me away to discuss the beauty-care rewards that Paul Mitchell has given my hair. Darn!

Here are the final rankings:

1) Paul Mitchell Extra Body Sculpting Foam
2) L'Oreal Body Vive Add-In Body Spray
3) Physique Amplifying Foam
4) Charles Worthington Dream Hair

Paul Mitchell's Extra Body Sculpting Foam was best received by all the testers. It's been a tried-and-true hair companion for people for years. L'Oreal's Body Vive Add-In Spray was very well liked, as well, which is nice. since it's a universal, easy to find brand, and it's easiest on the wallet. As we find in test after test, price doesn't always mean quality. L'Oreal's Body Vive Add-In Spray is the least expensive of these brands, and it was well liked by everyone except Robin. Charles Worthington was the most expensive, and still Paul Mitchell beat it out at four dollars less. That might not seem like such a significant amount, but when you look at the performances of Worthington in comparison to Paul Mitchell and L'Oreal, you'll see that the extra money would be better spent on another bottle of the product that's easy to use, and yields the best results!

So try the best-rated products for yourself, and see if they do crank your volume all the way up to 11!

Please let us know about your experiences with hair volumizers!  Click here to send us an email.

Return to Page One