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How to Deal with the Swirl: What Is Cowlick Hair?


My husband and I used to share a hairstylist. He figured if I liked her, he would like her, and he was right. We have shared many talented stylists while living in our busy Bay Area city, and one girl became a good friend of ours. She was such a good friend that she had no problem complaining: “Man! These cowlicks in your hair are impossible to deal with sometimes!” My husband has thick, curly hair, and, as my stylist noted, many, many cowlicks. We worked with her on different styles and approaches and finally figured out what worked best for him. Now, as we raise a daughter with similar hair, we have had to try out different strategies for her wild hair. The bottom line is, I have had to deal with many cowlicks in the past decade or so, and I have got a line on how you can best manage your cowlick hair, with lots of tips and tricks to explore.  

Table of Contents:  

  • What Is Cowlick Hair?  
  • 5 Most Efficient Ways to Deal with Cowlick Hair 
  • Cowlick Hair: Living on the Wild, and Natural, Side 
  • Smoothing Cowlick Hair with Plant-Based Conditioners 

    What Is Cowlick Hair?  

    A common question in the world of hairstyling is “what is cowlick hair?” Why? Because, as a 1972 study revealed, 94% of newborns are born with cowlick hair. If that is not common, I do not know what is. As of now, it looks like cowlicks are genetic. It is also true that you cannot get rid of a cowlick permanently. A cowlick, that swirling pattern that occurs typically at the crown or in the front of your hair, got its name from the mother cow’s tendency to lick her baby’s head. The affectionate move created a swirling pattern similar to the one people find in their hair. The name has stuck for decades or longer.  

    The good news is that while you cannot get rid of a cowlick permanently, it may change over time. Your hair patterns often change over your lifetime. Sometimes hair grows in thicker after a shave or cut; sometimes it grows in thinner due to age, illness, or diet. Also, an injury or surgery on your head may cause a cowlick or cause it to go away. Many environmental and biological factors may contribute to cowlicks. For now, you must learn to work with it.   

    5 Most Efficient Ways to Deal with Cowlick Hair 

    1. Smoothing Hair Oil 

    Because cowlicks are stubborn and do whatever they want, a soothing hair oil or smoothing spray can help calm the cowlick and the rest of your hair down, allowing you to coax it into the style you want.  

    2. Blow Dry on Low Heat 

    While styling your hair, if you use a blow-dryer, you can put your setting on low heat and “train” your cowlick in the direction of your choice. You must be patient and persistent, but you can persevere and get rid of a cowlick (even if only temporary) in the end.  

    3. A Thin Flat Iron 

    A thin flat iron will also allow you to gently train your hair to do what you want it to do and, eventually, to tame a cowlick. You will want a good holding spray or other similar styling products after you have finished styling to keep the straightening in place.  

    4. The Perfect Cut 

    It may take time, but you can work with your stylist to cut your hair in a way that works around your cowlick. Tell him or her about your cowlick and explain you want a style that thins it out. Your stylist can also cut the hair around your cowlick to work with it instead of against it.  

    5. Embrace the Cowlick! 

    If you know me at all, you had to know this option would be on the list. Just go with it is one of my favorite mantras in life, especially with personal style. Julia Roberts has a wide smile. Madonna has a gap in her teeth. And on and on. Some of the most famous people in history have had “flaws” they embraced, and often those flaws made them even more lovable. So cut your hair how you want it, style it how you want it, and learn to love your cowlick. Learning to love how your hair grows might even give you new ideas for innovative styles.  

    Cowlick Hair: Living on the Wild, and Natural, Side 

    It is ever more imperative upon us to live on the wild side. The world with all its beauty campaigns insists on telling you what is wrong with you, why you should feel bad about it, and how to fix it. They often create a problem and then sell you a solution. Look, there is nothing wrong with creating a product that meets a real need in the world. I love that about the advancements in technology and marketing. We can reach each other! But when it comes to your genetics, your biology, and what makes you, inherently, you, no company or corporation should make you feel ashamed. Period. It is okay to go a little wild. Take it from someone who has gone a lot wild after moving to a little town in the mountains to chase my dreams and watching them come true! Quite often embracing who we are brings out even more of the best of us. Your cowlick is natural, you can learn to work with it, and you can even call it your own little piece of wild.  

    Smoothing Cowlick Hair with Plant-Based Conditioners 

      One of the surest ways to get hair that grows in a cowlick shape to agree with you is to invest in a plant-based hair oil that will help smooth your hair. Hair oil can be a fruitful addition to your shelf because it smooths down your spiraling hair long after you leave the shower and during your drying process. Check out some of your options from Wow Skin Science below.  

      Onion Black Seed Hair Oil  

      This hair oil has all the ingredients you want to help calm your hair down. You can use it both as a biweekly treatment before you wash and condition and to work with your cowlick when you’re styling your hair. Win/win. 

      Moroccan Argan Hair Oil 

      I love argan oil. It is a great ingredient to have on hand for smoothing and calming both skin and hair. In this hair oil, it is sure to help you work with your cowlicks.  

      Browse the site through the links above. You’ll find a range of all-natural, plant-based products that might be useful for your beauty regimen.  

      Shanna Mendez

      Shanna Mathews Mendez is a freelance writer and blogger on topics related to self-care, naturopathy, female empowerment, and motherhood. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and children, where she enjoys traveling, being active outdoors, and studying herbalism and plant-based remedies in her free time. Drawing on her graduate degree in comparative literature and her own life experiences, she is currently writing her first book. She can be found online at her website

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