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.

FOREHEAD COWLICKS

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.

CROWN COWLICKS

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.

NAPE COWLICKS

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!

3 Comments

  1. Valerie Evers on February 24, 2018 at 8:35 pm

    I went to a hairdresser, not knowing I had cowlicks, and the hairdresser said, “Wow, your whole head has cowlicks”! My hair is fine and very, very straight. I mean, no curve whatsoever, except on the left side where I have one miniscule curl! Wearing bangs is tough because I have a cowlick right in front on the right side of my forehead. No matter how I wear my bangs, it “splits” at the part. I cannot wear a center part because of the cowlicks; and because of the “whirl” at my crown, which “whirls” to the right side of my head, I cannot wear the part on my left. I highlight my hair with blond highlights but, because I part it on my right, the left side “loses” the highlights, especially on those days I just put my hair behind my ears. SO, as you can see, I have lousy hair. I always tell any new hairdresser: “I hate my hair”! HELP!

  2. Laura Hale on February 27, 2018 at 6:46 pm

    Hi Valerie! Cowlicks are certainly a pain! It seems like you’ve been down this road a few times, trying to find the right style. If you are in the St. Louis or Kansas City areas we serve, we encourage you to stop in for a complimentary consultation! We’re happy to help you find a style that’ll fit your needs.

  3. Lisa White on June 8, 2018 at 5:36 pm

    I am in my early 50’s and have thin and fine shoulder length hair. I have a cowlick on each side of my forehead. I have parted my hair on the right for 26 years. I would be happy with my side part but I have a lot of hair in that area that is always short. It doesn’t seem to ever grow out. I’ve been told that it’s from using a curling iron but I don’t even use a curling iron in that area. If the curling iron causes it why doesn’t it happen all over? What causes this area of 1 to 2 inch long hair? It takes turns between wanting to stand straight up or curling to the left but not laying down at the ends so it sticks out to the side. I really hate it. I could go back to a center part but I don’t think I look good that way. When I have bad hair I feel like it affects my whole mood. I’m so tired of looking at it. I’m tired of being embarrassed about it standing up in the wind and when I come inside. I miss the days of having enough hair to at least tuck the short hairs underneath. Now the short hair is on permanent display. I don’t like to wear hairspray because it seems to accentuate the bad area and helps it stand up. I can’t stand crunchy hair that your fingers get stuck in. I do use gel, styling cream and oil for my dry hair. It sometimes looks like straw after my hysterectomy. My medications dry my hair out as well. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I used to get a body permanent once or twice a year and loved how it helped me style my hair. I haven’t had a permanent for at least 7 years because of the thinning and dryness. I hope you can help me. A woman’s hair is a big part of how she looks and feels.

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