What Is a Cowlick and How To Get Rid of It

If you have ever found yourself wondering why your hair always seems to grow in a certain direction, you might be experiencing what is commonly known as a cowlick. Although it can be frustrating to deal with on a daily basis, understanding what a cowlick is and how it forms can help you better manage your hairstyle and even embrace its unique quirks.

What Is a Cowlick?

A cowlick refers to a section of hair that grows in a different direction than the rest, often causing a noticeable swirl or bump. These stubborn patches of hair can occur anywhere on the scalp and can range in size from small and unnoticeable to large and prominent.

While some people might be born with a cowlick, others may develop one over time due to a variety of environmental factors such as sleeping in a certain position or constantly rubbing their hair against a pillow or hat. Additionally, cowlicks can also be the result of genetics, as certain hair types are more prone to irregular growth patterns.

Causes of Cowlicks

A study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology found that cowlicks are caused by the way the hair follicles are positioned in the scalp. The study also found that cowlicks are more common in people with curly or wavy hair.

Cowlicks occur when the hair follicles in a patch of hair are positioned in a different direction than the hair follicles in the rest of the scalp. This can cause the hair in the cowlick to grow in a different direction than the rest of the hair on the head. The exact cause of cowlicks is unknown, but they are thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors:


One of the most common causes of cowlicks is genetics. If your parents or other family members have cowlicks, it’s likely that you will too.

Sleeping Position

The way you sleep can also contribute to the development of cowlicks. For example, if you tend to sleep on one side of your head more than the other, you may notice a cowlick forming on that side.

Hair Type

Certain hair types are more prone to cowlicks than others. Curly or coarse hair, for example, is more likely to have cowlicks due to its natural texture and tendency to grow in irregular patterns.


Friction from hats, scarves, or other accessories can also cause cowlicks to form. This is especially true if you wear a hat or other head covering frequently.


Sometimes, cowlicks can be the result of an improper haircut. If your hair is cut too short or at an awkward angle, it may begin to grow in an irregular pattern, resulting in a cowlick.

How to manage a cowlick effectively

While cowlicks can be frustrating to deal with, there are several remedies that can help manage their appearance, including:

Blow-Drying Technique

To address a stubborn cowlick effectively, start by washing your hair and patting it slightly dry, leaving it damp. Equip yourself with a round brush and commence blow-drying your hair against the direction of the cowlick while applying gentle heat. This technique encourages your hair to conform and lie flatter. Once your hair is mostly dry, switch your approach, styling it in the desired direction to set it firmly in place.

Use Hair Products

Apply a suitable styling product, such as pomade, gel, or mousse, to the area affected by the cowlick. These products offer excellent hold and work to keep your hair neatly in position. Don’t hesitate to experiment with different product options to discover the one that works best for your hair type and meets your specific styling needs.

Change Your Hairstyle

Consult with a skilled hairstylist who can assist you in selecting a haircut that harmonizes with the cowlick, making it less conspicuous. Some haircuts have the magic touch to minimize the appearance of stubborn cowlicks. Additionally, consider longer hairstyles as they provide the added weight necessary to keep your hair weighed down and under control.

Regular Haircuts

Consistent trims are key to taming the cowlick’s influence. Shorter haircuts, in particular, can be more manageable in this regard, although the effectiveness depends on the location of the cowlick and your personal preferences. Frequent visits to the salon ensure that your hairstyle remains polished and cowlick-induced challenges are kept at bay.

how to get rid of a cowlick forever

There is no way to get rid of a cowlick forever, as cowlicks are often caused by the way hair grows genetically. 

In fact, your cowlick is a unique part of you, and it can make your hair more interesting and textured. Try to find hairstyles that work with your cowlick, rather than trying to fight it. If you are very concerned about the appearance of your cowlick, you may want to consider talking to a dermatologist. They may be able to recommend other options, such as hair transplantation or hair laser therapy.

Remember, your cowlick is not a flaw. It is simply a natural part of you.


  1. Do cowlicks ever go away? While some people may develop cowlicks later in life due to environmental factors, those who are born with them will likely have them for life.
  2. Are cowlicks more common in men or women? Cowlicks can occur in both men and women, and they are not specific to any particular gender.
  3. Can you prevent cowlicks from forming? While you cannot prevent cowlicks from forming entirely, you can reduce their appearance by managing their causes such as sleeping position, haircuts, and accessories.

Final Takeaway

Cowlicks are a common hair phenomenon that can be frustrating to deal with but are ultimately harmless. Understanding what causes cowlicks and how to manage them can help you embrace your unique hairstyle and even turn it into a fashion statement. Whether you choose to use styling products, blow drying, or getting a haircut that works with your natural growth patterns, there are several remedies available to help make your cowlick less noticeable.