Hair primer doesn’t get as much love as it should. Because it’s the first product in your styling routine to touch your gorgeous hair, it’s easy to forget about it once you layer other hair products on top of it. However, primer is an essential styling step in your hair care regimen since it creates a clean slate to help you slay all of your hairstyling goals.
If you’re unsure what hair primer is, you’ve come to the right place. We’re breaking down everything you need to know about hair primer, including who should use it and 25 of our hard-working formulas to test out right now.
What is a primer for hair?
The right hair primer will address some of your major hair concerns while prepping your strands to achieve your desired style. However, not all hair primers are created equal, so you should know exactly what hair primer is before incorporating it into your hair care routine.
A hair primer is a lot like a makeup primer. It prepares your hair to be the perfect canvas for your hairstyling desires. Similar to how makeup primers make your face look and feel smooth for a breezy makeup application, many hair primers are formulated to ensure your hair feels manageable and styles quickly and easily.
What is hair primer used for?
Stylists use hair primer to prep your hair before styling, which means you should pick your primer based on how you plan to style your hair. If you intend to heat style your hair, you’ll want to use a hair primer formulated with heat protection. If you’re hoping to create a sleek and smooth style on a particularly humid day, choose a hair primer suitable to protect against frizz.
Do I need a hair primer?
Everyone can benefit from a hair primer, but the key is to find the best hair primer for your mane. Whether your hair is thick, thin, curly, straight, damaged, or painted a fantasy color, there’s a primer on the market perfect for you and your hair needs.
What does a primer do for your hair?
The benefits of a hair primer depend on the product’s formula, but most hair primers try to help your hair look and feel smooth, shiny, soft, manageable, and frizz-free. In some cases, they can also help speed up your drying and styling time—who doesn’t want to save a few precious minutes?
How do you prime your hair for styling?
Hair primers are most often applied to freshly-washed, damp hair before styling. However, some primers can be applied in the shower, while others can be used on dry hair, so be sure to read your product’s label to ensure your application method is the most effective.
What is the difference between hair primer and leave-in conditioner?
These two styling products might seem similar, but a leave-in conditioner’s primary goal is to rehydrate dry strands between shampoos. While a hair primer can certainly have conditioning benefits, a leave-in conditioner tends to have one goal, which is targeted moisturization.
If it sounds like hair primer is the hair care item missing from your arsenal, you’re in luck. We’ve rounded up our 25 best hair primers.
Our Best Hair Primers for Dry Hair
Redken All Soft Moisture Restore Leave-In Treatment
Are you battling dryness? Your mane will greatly benefit from an ultra-hydrating hyaluronic acid primer, the star ingredient of Redken’s highly-anticipated All Soft Moisture Restore Leave-In Treatment. The latest addition to the All Soft family, the formula drastically improves hair’s ability to regain and retain moisture content due to chemical processes, porosity imbalances, and heat styling while visually sleeking split ends, taming frizz, detangling hair, and protecting hair from heat up to 450 degrees.
Kérastase Nutritive Nectar Thermique Blow Dry Primer
Heat styling your hair is often the quickest and easiest way to achieve your desired look, but it can sometimes make it look and feel drier than ever. Ensure you get a nourished and polished-looking blowout every time with Kérastase’s Nutritive Nectar Thermique Blow Dry Primer. The thermo-seal glaze is formulated for dry hair to smooth, add shine, and make hair easier to style.
Mizani 25 Miracle Leave-In Cream
Mizani’s 25 Miracle Milk Leave-In Cream penetrates deep down to the follicle to prep, protect and moisturize hair for superior detangling and hydration. The unique formula undoes damage and treats dryness to control frizz and create soft, lustrous hair.
Our Best Hair Primers for All Hair Types
Redken One United All-In-One Multi-Benefit Treatment
We could write endless pages about how much we love Redken One United All-In-One Multi-Benefit Treatment, but don’t just take our word for it! Pick up a bottle for yourself and find out why one is sold every 30 seconds.
Biolage Professional All-In-One Infusion Multi-Benefit Spray
Biolage Professional’s All-In-One Infusion Multi-Benefit Spray is a lightweight spray that helps to shield against external aggressors and gives hair a silky touch. Spray on wet or dry hair to instantly give your hair mega-watt shine, fight frizz, static, and flyaways, offer heat protection before styling, prevent split ends, and so much more.
Biolage Professional Smooth Proof Smoothing Shine Milk
Whether you’re planning to heat style your hair or rock your natural texture, Biolage Professional Smooth Proof Smoothing Shine Milk is the product you need for salon-perfect results. The lightweight mist repairs hair damage, increases shine and smooths flyaways for glossy, sleek locks. Whether your hair is short, curly, or long, this styling milk is the perfect color-safe leave-in conditioner.
Matrix Total Results Miracle Creator Repairing Nourishing Leave-In Conditioner
If we could only bring one hair product to a deserted island, it would be Matrix Total Results Miracle Creator Repairing Nourishing Leave-In Conditioner. The essential hair must-have is an incredibly versatile professional styling product, able to tackle many hair concerns at once.
Mizani 25 Miracle Milk Leave-In Conditioner
You’ve come to the right place if you’re searching for a multi-use primer that works on all hair types. Mizani‘s 25 Miracle Milk Leave-In Conditioner boasts 25 benefits, including priming hair for styling, detangling, and controlling flyaways.
Our Best Hair Primers for Damaged or Weakened Hair
Redken Acidic Bonding Concentrate Leave-In Conditioner for Damaged Hair
Healthy hair is in reach thanks to Redken’s Acidic Bonding Concentrate Leave-In Conditioner for Damaged Hair, which is formulated with citric acid and 5 percent Bonding Care Complex to intensely condition and repair hair while recreating weakened bonds. But the benefits don’t stop there: the primer also provides heat protection up to 450 degrees, adds shine and softness to strands, reduces the appearance of breakage and split ends, tames frizz, and adds smoothness.
Redken Extreme Length Triple Action Treatment Mask
You apply most primers to your strands after you’ve washed, conditioned, and rinsed your hair, but this primer from Redken is a little bit different. Instead of applying the product right before you style your hair, use Extreme Length Triple Action Treatment Mask on damp hair while you’re still in the shower. Leave the treatment on for two to five minutes before rinsing it out, and it’ll build strength from root to tip and target split ends.
Kérastase Résistance Ciment Thermique Blow Dry Primer
If you’re dealing with weak, over-processed, damaged hair, your strands need this strengthening primer. Kérastase Résistance Ciment Thermique Blow Dry Primer is a styling milk with a creamy, gel-like texture that smooths away cracks and split ends while adding shine and strengthening and fortifying the hair fiber to achieve 85 percent less breakage from blow-drying.
Our Best Hair Primers for Heat Styling
Mizani Thermasmooth Smoothguard Serum
The most critical step in safely straightening curly hair is properly prepping your hair with a heat-protecting serum. Mizani’s Thermasmooth Smoothguard Serum Smoothing Serum is the perfect heat styling primer for curl types six through nine.
Redken Quick Blowout Heat Protecting Blowdry Spray
If trying to create a flawless blowout is a constant battle between you and the clock, this primer is perfect for you. Redken’s Quick Blowout Heat Protecting Blowdry Spray is a nourishing treatment and blow-dry primer ideal for all hair types, especially dry, thick or coarse strands. It helps to reduce blow-dry time, protects from heat up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, cuts down on breakage, and provides 24-hour lasting volume without weighing hair down.
Redken Frizz Dismiss Rebel Tame Heat-Protective Leave-In Cream
Banish frizz before it strikes with Redken’s Frizz Dismiss Rebel Tame Leave-In Cream. This multi-benefit smoothing cream is formulated with sustainably-sourced babassu oil to control frizz while hydrating, detangling, and protecting hair from heat up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Shu Uemura Art of Hair Tsuki Shape Blow Dry Spray
This one’s for you if you can’t go a day without heat-styling your hair. Shu Uemura Art of Hair Tsuki Shape Blow Dry Spray is a heat-activated blow dry perfector and styling primer used to discipline hair before styling for added manageability with a soft and supple feel.
Shu Uemura Art of Hair Shiki Worker Air Dry Blow Dry Primer
If you’re a naturalista by day but a bombshell curly gal by night, we recommend keeping the versatile Shu Uemura Art of Hair Shiki Worker Air Dry Blow Dry Primer on hand. When used before a blow-dry, this primer provides a smooth finish. When used to let hair air dry, the formula enhances the hair's natural definition.
Kérastase Discipline Fluidissime Anti Frizz Spray
Many people use anti-frizz hair primers to prep their hair for sleek, smooth blowouts, but frizz doesn’t just wreak havoc on straight strands—it can also create hair styling nightmares for ladies with curly locks! If you constantly battle frizz, pick up Kérastase’s Discipline Fluidissime Anti Frizz Spray. The hair-smoothing thermal anti-frizz protection spray is formulated especially for curly hair.
Kérastase Discipline Keratine Thermique Blow Dry Primer
If your frizzy, fragile strands suffer from breakage after you blow dry your strands, you need Kérastase Discipline Keratine Thermique Blow Dry Primer in your line-up. The hair-smoothing leave-in treatment for frizzy or curly hair prevents breakage after blow drying.
Biolage Professional Blowdry Glotion
We all know how important using a heat protectant is, but even we forget to apply it to our strands whenever we heat style our hair. Biolage Professional Blowdry Glotion is a long-wear heat primer that lets you shape and reshape hair with 450 degrees Fahrenheit thermal protection for fast, healthy-looking, and frizz-controlled blowouts. Blowdry Glotion is the first reshapable thermal active blowdry lotion that lets you transform your hair continuously while deeply caring for it.
Our Best Hair Primers for Color-Treated Hair
Matrix Total Results So Silver All-In-One Toning Leave-In Spray
Fight brass while prepping hair for the styling process? Sign us up! Matrix So Silver All-In-One Toning Leave-In Spray is an all-in-one conditioning leave-in spray with a buildable toning formula that neutralizes unwanted yellow tones on blonde, silver, and grey hair until your next shampoo.
Matrix Total Results Brass Off All-In-One Toning Leave-In Spray
Blondes aren’t the only ones who could use a bit of toning action. Lightened brunettes will love Matrix’s Total Results Brass Off All-In-One Toning Leave-In Spray to counteract any orange tones that pop through. Like its So Silver counterpart, the formula also packs in ten benefits: toning, smoothing, shine-boosting, frizz reduction, detangling, moisturizing, visible split end improvement, breakage prevention, hair manageability, and style prep.
Kérastase Blond Absolu Cicaplasme Hair Primer
Blond Absolu Cicaplasme Hair Primer instantly unifies damaged areas of the fiber and provides smoothness and lightness for flawless blonde hair (no matter your hair type). The primer is infused with antioxidants and protects from heat up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
L’Oréal Professionnel Serie Expert Color 10-In-1 Multi-Purpose Spray
It’s no secret that it requires some effort to make new hair color last. The good news is that you don’t actually need a whole glam squad of products to do it if you use L’Oréal Professionnel’s Serie Expert Color 10 In 1 Multi-Purpose Spray. This primer spray is specially formulated for color-treated hair. It boasts ten benefits, including heat protection, boosting shine, and smoothing frizz to make your hair care routine easier.
Pureology Color Fanatic Multi-Tasking Leave-In Spray
Recently colored your hair? You need a primer to prep your hair for styling and to protect your new hue. Formulated with Pureology’s exclusive Anti-Fade Complex, Color Fanatic Multi-Tasking Leave-In Spray is a lightweight mist that primes, protects, and perfects while delivering 21 essential benefits for color-treated hair.
Pureology Strength Cure Miracle Filler
If a bleach session has your strands feeling fragile and brittle to the touch, pick up Pureology Strength Cure Miracle Filler. The spray-on primer fills in gaps in fragile, porous hair, leaving high-lifted or highlighted blonde soft and shiny.
Find more salon-level products to prime and style your mane on Hair.com.