A cowlick is a lock of hair that has a mind of its own. It refuses to lie flat and follow the direction of the rest of the hair around it. Instead, the hair follicles grow out in several different directions, which creates a lifting effect. Although the most prominent cowlicks are at the hairline at the front of the face, they also pop up at the crown and along the neckline. Cowlicks present a problem for hairstyling, as the tufts of hair react differently to cutting and styling to the majority of the hair.
When you chop off all the hair in a short cut you reduce the contrast between the cowlick and the rest of the hair. One such haircut is the buzzcut, which uses clippers to trim all the hair all over the head so all the hair is the same length. These styles camouflage tufts on all areas of the head and if the problem hair is at the back of the head, you can opt for a very close short-back-and-sides to get rid of the problem.
The shorter the hair is, the more vertical the cowlick can get, even though a very short cut means this is not noticeable. When a piece of hair is long, the weight in the length drags the hair downward and makes the cowlick flatter. Therefore a style with a fringe can cover the cowlick, as long as the hairdresser cuts the fringe with more length to the cowlick than the rest of the fringe, as the cowlick dries shorter than the other hair. An example of a fringe cut that could cover a cowlick is the collegiate cut, which has a short back and sides, where the hair becomes longer the closer it gets to the front.
When a hairdresser layers the hair, he cuts into the hair so that neighbouring strands are different lengths. This gives texture to the hair but can also hide a cowlick. The layers of the cowlick should be longer than the surrounding hair to weigh the tuftiness down.
Even a basic cut such as a Caesar cut, which incorporates an all-over length of about 25mm (1 inch) with a fringe front, is suitable to style up with gel, mousse or other hair products. You can apply gel to the hair and stick it up roughly to camouflage the upward angle of the tuft. With longer cuts, you can use gel to flatten down the cowlick in a downward motion. You can also use a hairdryer to dry the cowlick in the direction you want it to fall, which is especially useful for front cowlicks with length.
- Hair Boutique; Problem Hair: Cowlicks; Karen Marie Shelton; May 2010
- Become Gorgeous: How to Get Rid of Cowlicks
- Mens Flair; Drawing Inspiration From Male Celebrity Hairstyles; March 2007
- The Hair Styler; Receding Hairlines and Other Hair Growth Problems; Roy; June 2009
- Hairfinder: Clipper Cutting Techniques