A cowlick is a tuft of hair that shoots up in a different direction than the rest of the hair. Cowlicks are very visible and common among men since men usually have short hair, so any stray or errant lock is easily visible. Most guys have cowlicks located on the crown of the head, but cowlicks can appear on various part of the head.
Cowlick on the crown. Photo by Garrett Wright.
Most guys have to deal with cowlicks that just would not stay down. Fortunately, there are various ways to keep a cowlick down. The first step is knowing where the cowlick is.
Identify Your Cowlick
You can easily identify a cowlick since it is characterized by a swirl of hair going in the opposite direction as the rest of the hair. In some cases, a cowlick appears right on the front of the head, over the forehead, and on the crown where the tuft of hair sticks up and is easily noticeable.
Brad Pitt with cowlick at his hairline.
Once you know where the cowlick is located, you can tell your barber about it. Most barbers know what to do with cowlicks so they do not stick up as the hair grows. The most important thing to tell your barber is to avoid cutting too close on the pivot area. They shall start by thinning the hair so that there is less hair in the cowlick. Thinning shears is then used to blend the cowlick with the rest of the hair by feathering out the ends. Make sure you & your barber know the cowlick location(s) since the wrong haircut can make the cowlick more conspicuous than it already is.
Hairstyles to Choose
There are various hairstyles suitable for men with cowlicks. I recommend going long enough or very short for you who have cowlicks on the crown. A long or medium-length style will weigh the hair down so that the cowlick does not stick out.
Brad Pitt long hair style.
The other option is cutting the hair very short, in a buzz cut, for example, so that it is no longer visible. Guys with a longer hair can also use a messy spiky haircut to camouflage the cowlick.
Another possible hairstyle is one that is tapered and short at the bottom while gradually becoming longer at the cowlick area so that the weight of the hair can still hold the cowlick down. If you have cowlick on the front hairline, you can use a parted hairstyle that will hide it.
Brad Pitt’s side parted hairstyle.
Products to Use
Products can make various hairstyles possible. Hair pomade or hair gel is good for keeping spiky styles in place. Strong-hold gels can pin a cowlick down, although they give the hair a hard, crisp texture that is far from natural. For a more natural hold, styling mousse or volumizing sprays are also good options. It is important to remember to style the hair while damp to ensure maximum hold and easier styling, something which can be hard to do when the hair is already dry.