How to Keep Your Cowlicks From Popping Up, According to a Pro

·5 min read

If you've got a cowlicks (you know, the swirls or bumps in your hair—usually around your hairline—that like to pop up like flyaways), you already know that cowlicks do what they want despite what you want. And that leaves you with two choices: (1) You can either embrace yours, since they're totally normal and natural or (2) You can try to style it to make it a little less noticeable.

And though you can't ever fully "get rid of" a cowlick, you can style around it to at least temporarily fix it. To help you figure out how, we turned to hairstylist and co-founder of IGK Hair Care Chase Kusero for all the best tips. Ahead, everything you need to know about how to make your cowlicks do less.

What causes a cowlick?

Your parents might've told you your cowlicks are the result of a cow licking your head growing up (hey, it kinda looks like it, so I wouldn't blame you if you believed them), but in reality, cowlicks are mostly passed down through genetics, but Kusero says they can pop up after an injury or surgery on the head, which could also cause hair to grow differently.

So how do you know if you have a cowlick? Kusero says to look for hair that grows in a swoop pattern or a clockwise circle, kinda like a wave. Cowlicks are especially common in the front hairline area and the crown of your head, and though they can occur in all hair types and textures, they're most noticeable and prevalent in curly-to-straight hair types.

Can you get rid of a cowlick?

You can't get rid of a cowlick permanently, but you can temporarily hide it, smooth it, or disguise it. Since your cowlick is the result of your actual hair growth, no amount of brushing, combing, "training" your hair, or whatever will change that forever, but with a one-two punch of the right products and styling techniques, you can get that sucker to calm down a little.

How do you hide a cowlick?

1. Get the right haircut

According to Kusero, during a cut, your stylist can follow the growth pattern of the cowlick and cut in the same direction of the hair to ensure it will lay as smooth as possible. If your cowlick happens to be in your bang area, Kusero says your stylist could lightly cut into growth to reduce some of the bulk underneath, which will allow the hair on top to lay perfectly. Just tell your stylist you want to minimize your cowlick. They'll know what to do.

2. Smooth it down with smoothing products

On the days when you want to wear a sleek, smooth style and you don't want your cowlick stealing the show, grab a heat protectant, a hairspray, a hair serum, and a smoothing spray. Kusero recommends the IGK Good Behavior Spirulina Protein Smoothing Spray, which acts as a temporary smoothing keratin treatment, protects against heat damage, provides 24-hour frizz control—all things you want when smoothing out a cowlick.

3. Reshape cowlicks with a blow-dryer

Take everything we learned about the right haircut for a cowlick and do the opposite when heat-styling it. Kusero says the idea here is to confuse the hair by blow-drying it in various directions. After you apply your smoothing spray and heat protectant to damp hair, blow-dry the section with low heat and use your brush move hair to the left, right, and down. Finish with a cool shot of your hair dryer to lock hair in the new direction and a little flexible hairspray and smoothing serum to control the hair without weighing it down.

4. Follow up with a flat iron

If the blow-dryer didn't quite cut it or you need to be able to reach closer to the roots, Kusero says a thin flat iron in combination with your smoothing spray will do the trick in straightening a cowlick.

5. Use paste to tame a cowlick in your bangs

Bangs with cowlicks are hard to style, but not impossible. All you need is some texture paste to add a bit of grip and control. Take a little of the paste (not too much!), warm it up in your hands, and rake it through with your fingers. Use your fingertips to gently tug your bangs down to where you want them to fall.

6. Disguise it with texturizing products

Sometimes the best way to get rid of a cowlick isn't to get rid of it at all. Work with your swirls and bumps by giving the rest of your hair beachy texture and beach waves. Kusero says this texture is "perfect for cowlicks or hard-to-tame hair because it disguises the separation caused by different directional growth patterns." To fully embrace your cowlicks, Kusero recommends products for air-drying hair, like IGK's Rich Kid Coconut Oil Air Dry Styler, to promote texture and lock in the shape as the strands dry and texturizing spray or texture paste to add beachy, tousled texture and control on dry hair.

The takeaway:

There's nothing wrong with your cowlicks. They're normal, oftentimes genetic, and with no way to permanently get rid of cowlicks, they're also here to stay. But with the right products and styling techniques, you can blend hair that likes to do what it wants into the rest of your style or reshape it so it does whatever you want.

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