Redken Pillow Proof Primer Review

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Seemingly, we’re not asking for all that much – we’d like our hair to be healthy and manageable. Sounds pretty simple, I know, but this is not always the case. Those two concepts (health and manageability) are key in many people’s “hair days”. A good primer can provide necessary protection, and get your locks ready for styling. This is a review of the Redken Pillow Proof Primer, a product which made its debut in 2014 and garnered several awards upon its release.

A makeup primer comes before anything else (hence the name). It basically makes sure that your complexion is even and smooth before applying anything else. This results in a better, more homogeneous look which lasts longer.

A primer for hair, on the other hand, acts first and foremost as a layer which protects from the intense heat coming out of those wonderful contraptions we call blow dryers and hot irons. So let’s dig a little deeper: why should hair require thermal protection?

How Does Heat Damage Hair?

smile curly hair

Curly, healthy hair.

Hair is considerably strong and durable. It’s capable of stretching to impressive degrees, withstanding no small amounts of abuse, and even carrying large amounts of weight. It takes a significant intensity of concentrated heat (normally 450F or more) to damage hair to the point of thinning, breaking, and snapping off. Because of that, heat damage is irreperable once it sets into your hair. But don’t fret – there are ways to prevent that from happening and ways of contending with it when it does happen.

Our hair is tough, yes, but it really is just a collection of protein strands.  Heat can potentially damage it by undoing the delicate bonds which hold the strand together. This can cause noticeable changes, such as breakage, thinning, and shedding. Split ends are a very common reaction to intense heat, and we all know how popular those are.

You might be in need of some Mafia-style protection. You know, something along the lines of “gee, that’s lovely hair you have there. It would be a real shame if something should happen to it…” *nudge nudge*

Enter Redken.

Redken Pillow Proof Primer Explained

Redken was established by Jheri Redding and Paula Kent in 1960. Hence why the name is a combination of the two founders’ last names. During 1993, the company was sold to Cosmair, which was one of the leading manufacturers at the time. Later on (in 2000), Cosmair changed its name into L’Oreal USA, effectively becoming L’Oreal’s subsidiary in the United States.

To prime something means to get it ready. This is the precise meaning and qualification of this product. It is a pre-style preparation which comes before anything else. A good primer gets rid of excess dirt or buildup, and provides protection against heat – in doing so it cuts down the blow-drying time significantly, and let’s you get on with it.

More often than not, a primer will have some type of silicone in it. That way, each individual hair is coated, and this makes the hair on our head smoother, more uniform, and more susceptible to styling. The main benefits of primer are:

*Reduction of blow dry time

*Heat protection when drying or styling

*Makes for stronger and voluminous hair

*Helps subsequent products cling better to the hair

It is essential that you spray your hair when it is dry! There are some primers which strictly call for wet hair, but the vast majority of them are meant for use with dry hair. Because it’s supposed to coat the hair and form a layer of protection, this is not so easily done with wet hair. If you misuse, it may cause the primer to fail at its job through no fault of its own, and give you uneven results.

When you’re blow drying or using an iron of some kind, you need to be aware of several basic things: how wet/dry is the hair? Is the setting you’re using appropriate to your situation? There are some myths or misconceptions regarding what does and doesn’t constitute heat damage, but like so many other things it can be subjective and circumstantial.

Just make sure to figure out what causes you damage, by your own definition, and remember that it is best to err on the side of caution. Once you damage the hair with heat it can become a real mess, and require even more time and effort.

Redken Pillow Proof Primer Ingredients Breakdown

Salt in a bowl surrounded with salt.

Epsom salt.

I mentioned silicone already, and primers usually have some skin and hair conditioners; there are binders, antifoams, and solvents which keep the ingredients balanced and held together in their chosen consistency; there are preservatives for lengthening the shelf life of the product, and often there is some type of trade-secret-protected perfume or fragrance. Redken Pillow Proof primer has ingredients that hit all of those marks. It also possesses Epsom salt and lactic acid.

I actually like the fact that Redken is not trying to sugar-coat anything in regards to this product. It’s a chemical primer. It provides you with protection from heat and to ease the subsequent styling of the hair. And to that end, those ingredients are present. It looks as if it has what it needs to do its job, and that’s pretty much it.

It is par for the course for hair care companies to add all kinds of ingredients to their stuff, some of which are hardly warranted and which have no meaningful impact whatsoever on the mechanism of the product or the consumer. I feel they just do it to gain marketing points and boost sales with certain populations or age-groups. Well, okay, business is business and that’s hardly unheard of. But thankfully, Redken didn’t choose to go that route – at least I don’t think so.

Epsom salt is one of the more unique ingredients. Personally, I got to know Epsom salt through use in the bath, but it has some great benefits for all kinds of hair types. The salt – aka magnesium sulfate – has the ability to add volume, nourish the scalp and strands, and remove dead skin and debris. I can certainly see how an ingredient like that fits well within the concept of a hair primer, and Redken made a nice move adding it to the formula. 

Redken Pillow Proof Primer Review

Spray bottle of Redken Pillow Proof Primer next to pink packaging.

Redken Pillow Proof Primer.

Let’s get pricing out of the way for the Redken Pillow Primer review. With a price tag of $15-20, it’s not out of the ordinary. I wasn’t expecting anything too expensive, since Redken products are never at too high of a price point. As for the primers themselves, there is a spray and a cream available. 

Whether you use the cream or spray, be advised: take it slowly, because a little of this stuff can go a long way. If you misuse it or overuse it, your hair will be gunky and greasy by the end of the day, pretty much guaranteed. And on a personal note, and I certainly mean personal, I am not fond of the scent. I know that scents can be very different for everyone, so don’t take my word for it, but it just didn’t click with me.

Things like smell are not necessarily a deal-breaker, since it is a primer. In other words, other products will be going over it. So, there’s a good chance that by the end of the styling you won’t smell it at all. If all you’re using is the heat protectant, however, make sure you like the scent before purchasing, since it just might stick around for a while.

Another thing to remember is SHAKE the thing before using it. This simple maneuver can solve a lot of problems down the road. If you forget to shake, the consistency of the product might be off, and this spells trouble. Now, you might say that you don’t need to shake it. But you know what they say: “shake it till you make it”!

Order Now From Amazon: Redken Pillow Proof Blow Dry Primer

How to Get the Blow Drying Effect Without Heat

Back of woman's head with woman's hands in hair.

Woman with styled hair.

It is possible to get the salon blowout look without going through the thermo-related motions. These heatless blowout techniques allow you to gain volume and stretch out your natural or curly hair. So, it leaves you looking fabulous (if it’s done right, that is).

A DIY or salon-made blow out may take some time to achieve on that first day, but it can last a few days after that, alongside some light maintenance. Depending on your hair type, you can use methods like:


Sectioning or ponytailing your hair with several (or more) hair ties. Depending on your sections and the amount of ties used, your hair will be longer and stretchier.


For heat-free stretched curls, use curlformer. They’re a pain in the neck to sleep with, I am told, but as Bob Dylan said: “behind every beautiful thing, there’s been some kind of pain”.

Stretch Plates

These are definitely some of the weirder-looking hair-style apparatuses out there, but they get the job done. Attach the plates to somewhat-damp hair, and let it sit. You can also sleep with it, but this may not be the most comfortable way to catch ZZZ


Some hair damage is near-inevitable. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you’re going to either make a wrong move, or even make the right move on the wrong type of hair! Redken’s primers can potentially save you a world of problems in a matter of seconds.

Despite your best intentions, you could damage your hair. It can be the environment you’re in, the products or tools you use, or anything else, really. Your hair may be in a delicate state, such as after being up in a tight bun or a gripping ponytail for hours. You don’t always know how it will react.

If you want to continue styling it the way that you’re used to, take advantage of the products you’re used to, and feel in control of your look – you should take steps to provide your hair with protection. Primers such as these are not necessary for everyone. That said, if you use hot irons of any kind, it’s a pretty safe bet that you’re going to need them or something close to them which can achieve the same effect.

Like I said, I don’t know for sure if this particular product is worth the investment. There are other heat protectants out there, but some users have found this product to be right up their alley. And once you find a hair care product that fits you and that you can rely on, that alone can be worth a lot of time and money, and save you a lot of heartache. Redken’s Pillow Proof Primer is definitely a product you want to check out.

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