Hair Style How To: Managing a Cowlick

I know… cowlicks can be a big pain.  But rest assured, there are some simple steps to managing those pesky cowlicks to give you the hair style you want!

Here’s a common scenario:  You see an amazing haircut on a celebrity or in a magazine and decide it’s the one.  You bring the picture to your stylist and he/she cuts it exactly right… except that one piece that hangs down lower at your neck, or the bangs split. For men, it might not lay down the way they had hoped or it sticks up in the wrong spot.   What gives?

Well, every hair on your head is built to grow in a specific direction. This is what causes cowlicks.  Some cowlicks are easily managed (growth patterns that grow in one direction will go with any hair style).  Some are not as easy to manage (ones that grow in almost a circle pattern sometimes feel almost impossible to handle).

Most cowlicks are found in three places: 1) the forehead, 2) the crown and 3) the nape of the neck.  Cowlicks can affect the way you part your hair or style your bangs (the forehead), your volume or lack of volume (crown), and your neckline from buzz cuts to bobs (nape).  If your cowlick doesn’t have a significant difference from the rest of your hair growth patterns, you might not even know you have one… lucky you!

The best way to manage a cowlick is to learn how to work with them.  Every person’s hair patterns are unique, but there are two main ways to manage cowlicks.  You can either cut them short to blend them into the hair or grow them long to give weight and manageability to the hair.


Once you’ve made the decision to keep it long or cut it short, styling products, a blow dryer and a good brush will become your best friends.  If you have a cowlick in your bang area, this should be the first place you dry your hair.  You’ll want to dry the hair with a brush pushing it in one direction, and then after a few strokes switch and brush the hair in the opposite direction, this will help “confuse” the hair, as to which way it is supposed to go.  If the end result you choose is with the cowlick, then your hair should lay nicely, and if you choose the opposite, (which might be a bigger fight) you may be able to achieve more volume.  This is a personal choice as to what looks best on you.  For widow’s peaks, bangs are possible but will present a definite challenge when it is time to style them (depending on how dramatic the peak is). It’s my recommendation to not have bangs, but perhaps a short face frame, to make it look like you have fringe around your face. But for those who absolutely must have bangs, make sure they are thick enough and that your dry them first in the way suggested above.  This will give you the most room to play and will manipulate the hair.


Cowlicks in the crown present issues for both short and long hair.  For very short buzz cuts, it is almost always best to cut these cowlicks shorter than the rest of the hair.  As hair grows in between haircuts, it will blend well with the rest of the hair as opposed to sticking straight up (Alfalfa style).  For short/medium/long cuts, it’s best to determine your plan of action with your hairstylist.  Most likely you will want more length, which will add more weight, and in turn, more control over that pesky cowlick.  Sometimes however, a little extra weight doesn’t always do the trick.  You can use pomades and pastes to direct the hair, but my tried and true way to manage cowlicks is to tease the area.  Now you don’t need to create Texas-size hair to have control; just some light teasing and hairspray is all you need.  This will give you awesome volume, and a finished look.


If you have long hair, cowlicks at your neck might not be noticeable.  But, if your hair is short or bobbed sometimes it is better to have this section of hair cut shorter than the rest.  If the hair is cut perfectly even when it’s dry it might hang down lower due to the direction of the cowlick (which will make it look uneven).

Follow these tips and you’ll find that managing your cowlick is easy.  If you have more questions, stop by and ask your LookAfter stylist on the hair style that would work best for your hair!

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