For a Hairstyle That Stays Put No Matter What, Try This Underrated Product

You may know the basics when it comes to getting your hairstyle to stay put for hours. A good hairspray is key—especially one that doesn't give your hair that "helmet" or crunchy feeling. Using the right tools and using them correctly is important, too. A lot of what we already know revolves around the styling process and what to do after you style your hair (aka spritz hairspray). But it's equally important to do some prep work beforehand to get your strands ready for styling. This will allow you to protect your hair against any heat damage from hot tools, condition it a bit, and also help prolong the life of your hairstyle.

One underrated product that often gets overlooked when it comes to styling prep is hair primer. In the same way makeup primer gets your skin ready for makeup application, a hair primer preps your hair for styling.

What is hair primer?


(Image credit: @giasinatra)

"Hair primer is the first step/product you want to use before styling your hair," says Mane Addicts artist Dina DiPietro. "Some hair primers are used to protect against hot tools, smooth, strengthen, and protect against UV."

And Siobhán Quinlan, a colorist and stylist at Cutler West Hollywood, describes it as almost like a toner for the skin. "It's going to add a soft amount of moisture and even out the porosity of the hair so when other products are applied they absorb equally throughout the hair," she says.

Do you need hair primer?


(Image credit: @mishti.rahman)

All of those benefits sounds pretty good, but you might be wondering if hair primer is a total necessity. If you want your hairstyle to stick and your hair to look fresh and revived, try it out. DiPietro especially recommends using a hair primer when you're using hot tools to protect against damage and help smooth the hair.

"I would always recommend one after shampooing your hair," Quinlan adds. "As far as every time you style, it can be a great product to help refresh hair. Because it's lightweight, it can be applied to dry hair without any worry of it weighing the hair down. The moisture will help combat any frizz, add shine, and help put some movement back into the hair." And the good news is it's beneficial for all hair types.

How should you apply hair primer?

Celebrity stylist Christin Brown, who specializes in curly and textured hair, likes to apply hair primers on dry hair, making sure to fully saturate the hair. And since most primers are sprays, Quinlan recommends making sure you aren't just spraying the top layer of your hair. She suggests flipping your head upside down and splitting it into a few sections before applying.

DiPietro highlights some specific steps to take:

1. To apply a primer that has a spray nozzle, hold it about eight inches from the hair. Point it toward the middle and ends of hair, avoiding roots. Alternatively, If you're using a lotion, apply a small amount in sections, focusing on mid-lengths and ends, avoiding roots.

2. Comb through.

3. Start rough-drying hair with a blow-dryer.

Below, take a look at some hair primers to try.

Best Hair Primers

Next Up: These At-Home Products Help Us Fake the Look of an Expensive Salon Blowout

Managing Editor

Sarah is lifestyle writer and editor with over 10 years of experience covering health and wellness, interior design, food, beauty, and tech. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she attended New York University and lived in New York for 12 years before returning to L.A. in 2019. In addition to her work on THE/THIRTY and Who What Wear, she held editor roles at Apartment Therapy, Real Simple, House Beautiful, Elle Decor, and The Bump (sister site of The Knot). She has a passion for health and wellness, but she especially loves writing about mental health. Her self-care routine consists of five things: a good workout, “me” time on the regular, an intriguing book/podcast/playlist to unwind after a long day, naps, and decorating her home.