Mousse is great because it can be used in place of hairspray and it doesn't have the same chemicals in it and is often softer. Mousse helps define curls while adding volume to hair. Usually, mousse is applied to dry hair but it can be applied to roots only or all through your hair. If you apply it throughout all your hair and dry your hair upside-down, it gives your hair a lot of volume. Just be aware that it doesn't have the same holding power for short hair as hairspray does.
On the other hand, you could try a gel, especially if you have short hair. Gel offers better holding power than the mousse, almost as good as hairspray. In addition, using a gel allows you more control over how much you want to actually use. The biggest thing about using gel is that you must spread it out and make sure there are no clumps of gel otherwise it will dry into hard clumps.
Gel can be applied either on dry hair or wet hair. You can apply it to wet hair and let the hair dry naturally which can sometimes give a wet look. If you apply it on dry hair, you can get those fly away strands under control. Or you apply gel to sections of your dry hair and style them the way you want. Unfortunately, gel can make your hair feel quite stiff so if you want it to be soft, this is not what you want.
Another alternative is to use a paste in your hair. A paste allows you to add a bit of texture to the hair while adding a bit of volume. It is great for those who have shorter, thinner hair because it gives the illusion of having thick hair when using paste. Although it can be used on wet hair to get the maximum hold, it is better used on dry hair, for a bit of extra hold. It does not have the same amount of hold as a strong hairspray but it does leave your hair softer and looking more natural. The paste has to be warmed between your hands in order to use and it washes out quite easily.
You could also use a styling clay, which provides medium hold and adds volume. It works on both wet and dry hair but it doesn't make your hair look shiny. It does wash out easily but at the same time it does not provide a solid hold.
Finally for commercial products is a pomade which is also known as hair wax, or hair paste. It provides a high slick shine on your hair. It works on styles that can be created with a comb and come in either oil or water based. Oil based pomade will last longer, provide more shine, but it is harder to get out of the hair. Pomade tends to hold hairstyles in place as well as hairspray but the final hairstyle can be extremely stiff.
As far as making alternatives at home, I'm including gelatin and flaxseed. For the gelatin alternative, heat 1/2 cup of water until it is simmering and then add in 1/4 tsp powdered gelatin, stirring until completely dissolved. If you want a light scent, add a couple drops of your favorite essential oil before allowing the mixture to cool completely. Apply to the hair when it is still a bit damp and style your hair. What ever is left over can be stored in the refrigerator for a long time.
The other possibility is flaxseed gel to use on your hair. Boil up one cup of water before adding 1/4 cup of flaxseed. Allow it to stand for one full day to get the best results. When its ready, you can apply it to your hair as you style it and it the left over can be refrigerated. There are other alternatives to use instead of hairspray but I don't like using egg whites, or sugar because I'm always afraid of them going bad in my hair. Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear. Have a great weekend.