Hair Primer is a “Thing” Now, So Let’s Talk About How to Use It

Kristin Booker
Hair Comb

B2M Productions/The Image Bank

If it seems to you like there’s a new product launched every day, you’re right — at least from where we’re standing. Which brings us to the constant question of how to use all these new products and, again, we’re right there with you. Luckily, we’ve got some phone numbers of people who can help answer those questions for all those fancy new products like, say, hair primer.

We know that makeup primers act the same way paint primers do; they help prep the surface to receive and hold makeup. But since you don’t use a hair primer before your hair color (we don’t THINK,) exactly what is this magical item for? We reached out to two of the industry’s “mane” men — Ben Skervin, Vidal Sassoon Pro Series Fashion & Celebrity Hairstylist, and Tim Rogers, Creative Director of Living Proof — on how to use this magical new styling aid:

Exactly what is hair primer and what’s its main purpose? How does it work?
“Primers in haircare, as in skincare, are designed to create an even base surface,” explains Tim. “Used alone or prior to applying other styling products, they create a weightless, humidity-resistant shield that works as a beautifying barrier to humidity, airborne dirt particles, and oil from the scalp. The benefit to using one is your style lasts longer due to its ability to resist the moisture disruption, and it helps your hair stay cleaner longer.” Ben adds some additional perks of using the product: “They protect the hair from heat styling, condition it, and help give it shine and smoothness for a healthy appearance.”

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What hair types does hair primer work best on? Are there any hair types on which it wouldn’t work?
It turns out it’s pretty universal. Both our stylists say that there’s a primer out there for any particular hair type or concern. “Primers are the foundation of any hairstyle. Some add more shine if your hair is dry and dull, others provide detangling aid for knotty hair.” Tim adds that Living Proof makes primers for different weights of hair. “Living Proof Prime Style Extender Cream comes in two formats: A cream for medium-to-thick hair, and a spray for fine-to-medium textures. Because both are oil and silicone free, there’s no reason to fear build or weight.”

How do you use it?
Ah, the million-dollar questions arises. It’s easy. “After using shampoo and conditioner, add a dime-sized amount of primer to your hands, then run them through your damp hair. You can use the product solo or as a first layer under your regular styling aids before air-drying or heat styling.” Ben further emphasizes using a primer for heat protection. “Using a primer on wet hair before blow drying is best, especially one that protects against heat, like Vidal Sassoon Pro Series REPAIR Heat & Protect Shine Spray. It helps add a protective layer from the heat of the hair dryer.”

Are there styles that work best with the product?
In short, yes. “Primer works to preserve all styles, but its value is especially noticed on styles that tend to fall/fail quickly: smooth blow-outs, curling iron sets etc.,” notes Tim. What about girls with curls? “Your shampoo and conditioner are the key to getting the most out of your particular type of hair. If you use a wave hair primer spray, for example, it’s a good idea to use products that encourage and work with your natural texture to ultimately help with frizz and shape.” Ben advises using a primer that’s suited for your particular hair type. “If you have dry hair, you need more of a moisturizing product. Fine hair needs a primer that gives more volume and fullness, and a conditioning, repairing hair primer is best as a styling protector on wet hair.”

How often should you use primer?
Both stylists advise using the product for every styling session that starts with damp hair. It’s just that easy!