How to style a cowlick

Updated March 23, 2017

A cowlick is a pesky little cluster of hairs that tends to stand straight up from the head and is hard to control. They appear when the hair growth direction forms a spiral pattern and are more obvious in straight than curly hair. Cowlicks are most often found on the crown or front hairline around the face, but can occur anywhere on the head. The good news is that cowlicks can be managed, using the right cut, styling tools and hair accessories.

Understand the dynamics of your own cowlick. If your cowlick is well-placed on your head, all you may need is a good haircut to work with the direction of the hair or add weight from hair above to hold the cowlick down. However, most people find the combination of right style, length and use of products is needed overcome the unruly cowlick.

Get the right haircut or style. A talented stylist that understands cowlicks can custom design a haircut that camouflages your cowlick by working it into the overall look and style. If your cowlick is at the base of the neck, the hairstyle of choice should be either very short or long at the nape of the neck, to avoid the hair sticking out in a 90-degree angle from the neck. Bangs can pose a problem if the cowlick is around the front hairline. Carefully shaped or heavy fringe often offer an effective option for cowlick control. If fringe are not desired, create a part that is away from the cowlick. Always blow-dry the cowlick opposite the direction in which it grows.

Choose the right styling products and accessories to complement the cut. Hair creams and pomades with strong hold are excellent on taming cowlicks. Apply the desired styling product to the root area of the cowlick. Redirect the cowlick, using your fingers or a hair pick. The holding power of the styling product will keep the cowlick in place. A perm or relaxing treatment may also help in controlling a cowlick. Light pomade, straightening gel, mousse or styling cream used in conjunction with a downward pointing blow dryer nozzle helps curb the wild cowlick. Moisturising shampoos and conditioners can often help tone down cowlicks with a mind of their own. Softer hair strands are less likely to spring out of control than stiffer, dryer strands. Train the cowlick with the use of hair accessories. Headbands and clips hold the hair down, eventually redirecting the hair in another direction.


For those more concerned about cowlick management, electrolysis, waxing and cosmetic surgery are options.

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