How to Get Rid of a Cowlick

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If you found yourself on this article, it is probably because you have an unwanted cowlick that is getting in the way of how you want to look. This article will not only tell you what a cowlick is exactly, the causes of cowlicks, and answer some frequently asked questions about cowlicks (are they genetic, are they a sign of baldness?), but it will also provide 13 easy ways on how to get rid of a cowlick.

how to get rid of a cowlick

What is Cowlick?


One way to describe a cowlick is to send you to a farm and ask you to watch a mother cow lick her calves’ fur and then note what the calves fur does and then imagine that happening on your head. But, because you and I both don’t have the time for a farm field trip right now, we’ll just describe it in simpler terms.

According to the dictionary, a cowlick is “a lock of hair that grows in a direction different from the rest and that resists being combed flat.” So, in other words, cowlicks are almost always the culprit of a “bad hair day.”

They are mostly found in the middle of the head, but many people also complain about having them in the front and back. But, to be honest, they can really show up anywhere. The question that many people have after learning about exactly what a cowlick is is why does it happen?

What Causes a Cowlick?

The main reason someone has a cowlick is due to unshaped hair follicles, which cause the hair to grow in different patterns and different angles. To be honest though, although they are so common, it is still not completely known what causes them.

Some people are just born with cowlicks, and others deal with them due to losing their hair during chemotherapy and their hair growing back different. Almost everyone has dealt with a cowlick at some point in their life, but some deal with them more frequently than others.

Those who do deal with cowlicks every day are sometimes able to make the look work, but most of the time they are seeking a way to get rid of the cowlick, which is often more complicated than people originally think. This is especially true when you factor in the possible genetic component.

Are Cowlicks Genetic?

While cowlicks come to many people in varying ways, they are thought to be genetic. Some people will recognize they have the same cowlick as their parents or grandparents. For example, in my family, my daughters’ cowlick is almost exactly the same as my husbands.

This genetic factor of cowlicks also makes it so most people find that, although it can be managed, a cowlick will typically be there your whole life. Interestingly enough, right-handed people tend to have clockwise cowlicks, while left-handed people have counter-clockwise cowlicks.

Along with that, the same genes that cause cowlicks also seem to have some polarity in them that help the body fight off cancer cells. While this is all interesting, when talking about genetics and balding one of the big things people want to know about, is if these cowlicks are a sign of balding.

Are Cowlicks a Sign of Balding?

In general, cowlicks are not a sign of balding, but if you’re starting to notice cowlicks where there hasn’t been some before, it may be a sign of balding. Balding occurs because of hair miniaturization.

As the hair becomes shorter and shorter in some parts of the head, this can create unevenness and cowlicks to appear where they weren’t before.

This is different from naturally occurring cowlicks which are just because of the abnormality of the hair follicle as opposed to hair miniaturization. Whatever the reason of your cowlick, you probably want to know how to get rid of it.

13 Easy Ways on How to Get Rid of a Cowlick

While there are varying ways to get rid of a cowlick, and each individual may prefer one over the other, here are 13 of the most common ways on how to get rid of a cowlick.

1. Apply Heat

When styling your hair out of the shower, blow dry the hair on low. Focus on the part of your hair that has the cowlick and dry in the direction of the curl for a few minutes and then the opposite direction for a few minutes.

Repeat this a few times, and the root of the hair will be confused and allow you to style your hair in the way you want it. A round brush will help with this technique. After you finish styling, you will want to use hairspray or some setting spray to make sure it stays in place.

2. Straighten the Hair

Using a flat iron is one of the easiest ways to get rid of a cowlick as you can take the hair and straighten it in the way you want it to be. For those of you that don’t love too much heat on your hair, and don’t want to straighten your hair every day, using a roller setting, banding, or curl formers can straighten the hair without too much heat on the cowlick.

3. Get Rid of the Cowlick until your Hair Cools Down

While waiting for your hair to cool, be sure that the cowlick is staying where you want it until the hair is completely cool. Do this by not moving your hair toward the direction of the cowlick at all until the hair is cooled. Here you can use a fastener, cap, or clip that will not bend the hair to let the hair set up and cool.

4. Sleep with a Cap

Once you find a cap for cooling your hair that doesn’t bend the hair, consider sleeping with the cap as many cowlicks are made worse while tossing and turning at night. This is especially helpful if you prefer showering at night.

5. Use Stronger Tools

Maybe you’ve tried some of these tricks before, but your cowlick still won’t go away. If this is the case, you may need to invest a little more in the products and tools you are using for your hair. This could include making sure your blow dryer reaches the heat you need, while also allowing you the cooling option to set the hair correctly.

6. Squish the Hair

This trick is a favorite of many hairstylists. Instead of focusing on the root, this technique squishes the middle of the cowlick which will help calm the hair in the way you want it. You do it by holding the cowlick hair with one hair and squishing the cowlick area with the other hand, focusing on the center.

7. Embrace It

Instead of trying to change your hair, you could just decide to work the cowlick. A great way to do this is by trying a disheveled hairdo such as beach waves. This option can make your life much easier and save you time in the morning, which is more and more people are choosing this option.

8. Do a Different Hairstyle

More than just styling your hair differently, if a stubborn cowlick just won’t go away, try growing your hair out in a way you haven’t before to see if that will help. Examples of this could be cutting your hair shorter, or trying some new layers.

You could also try adding weight to your hair which helps hide cowlicks and make it harder for them to stick up. This is why cowlicks are seen more often in men than in women. Many men who struggle with cowlicks decide to keep their head shaven which will make it, so you don’t ever have to think about the cowlick!

9. Natural Oils

Another tip is to use less shampoo and more conditioner. This will allow natural oils to be more prevalent in your hair, which will weigh the hair down and make it harder to stick up when you don’t want it to. Conditioner will also add weight to the hair.

10. Commercial Hair Products

Some great commercial hair products to treat cowlicks are hair gels, high strength pomade, and electrolysis. Unfortunately, none of these products will be able to make sure that the cowlick doesn’t come back.

Almost any product you use for your cowlick should be a heavy-duty hold so it can last all day. If you do choose using a hair product, it is often best to apply to the hair when wet, and then apply heat after the wet hair is styled the way you want.

11. Use a Root Brush

A root brush is a specific brush made to change the course of hair development by focusing on the root. While your hair is wet, use the root brush to brush the cowlick the other way of the hair growth several times.

This will adapt the hair follicles for the day, so the hair dries in the direction you want it to.

12. Pin it Up

For those with longer hair, separating a section of hair close to the cowlick and pinning it up will be able to hide the cowlick. This also allows you to play with many different hairstyles with the pin-up.

13. Consult the Professionals

Another excellent option for someone with a chronic cowlick problem is to go to your personal hairdresser. They will be able to see exactly what the problem is and give you personalized tips to help you get rid of the unwanted cowlick.

Whatever your feelings toward your cowlick, know that it is completely normal (almost every single person has one) and that there are ways to manage it! I hope that you’ll be able to get that hairdo you want, without any of those pesky confused hair follicles getting in the way!


I hope you found our How to Get Rid of a Cowlick article useful.

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