5 Expert-Approved Ways to Get Your Cowlicks Under Control

Bella Hadid with middle-parted long, straight, brown hair
Photo: Jeff Spicer/WireImage

Is it just us or does it sometimes feel like hair has a mind of its own? This rings especially true when it comes to cowlicks, those stubborn parts of your hair that grow opposite to the rest of your strands. They can be at the front, the crown, or the back of your head, and often poke out and won't lie flat.

"Depending on the location, type, and your hairstyle preference, cowlicks can sometimes be disguised by a talented stylist who can integrate them into long layers," says Nick Stenson, Matrix SoColor celebrity stylist. "If that's not possible, take matters into your own hands." With the right prep and products, cowlicks are totally manageable.

Keep reading for our best expert-approved tips on how to deal with cowlicks, stat.

Tip No. 1: Do the Flip

There may not be a foolproof way to eliminate cowlicks altogether, but you can definitely trick unruly hair into cooperating. Post-wash, blow-dry and set your hair in the opposite direction, recommends Brooklyn-based stylist Wesley O'Meara. Drying your hair in multiple directions will confuse the hair roots in the area to assist in breaking down the stubborn directions held by the cowlick. Start off by blow-drying your hair in the direction of the cowlick, and after several seconds, switch to drying in the other direction, instructs celebrity hairstylist Corey Tuttle. Consider using a round brush which will make it easy to hold and pull the hair in both directions, as well as a diffuser on a low setting for curls.

Tip No. 2: Comb it Down

When hair is wet, apply a small amount of gel—we like Pattern Strong Hold Gel ($25)—on the area of concern. "If hair is allowed to dry even slightly, the cowlick will conform to its natural shape," says Stenson. When you're blow-drying, set your dryer on low heat and comb the cowlick as you work. For extra reinforcement, you can flatiron the area and hold it with a clip as you style the rest of your hair. To ensure strand stays flat throughout the day, Stenson recommends finishing with a light spritzing of hairspray.

Tip No. 3: Grab a Flatiron

If your cowlick only shows itself once your hair is dried, pick up your trusty flatiron. According to Tuttle, strategically applying extreme heat to the cowlick can help flatten the stubborn hair—just don't forget to apply a heat protectant first. And for best results, make sure you get the iron as close to your roots as possible.

Tip No. 4: Put a Clip on It

This tip might seem like an obvious quick fix to hide a cowlick, but pinning it can also work as a preventive measure. Tuttle suggests using a hair clip—we're fans of these no-crease Alligator Barrettes ($6) by Mad Holly—to hold the cowlick in place before lights out. Come morning, you'll wake to a good hair day (read: no cowlick here).

Tip No. 5: Window Wash It

Cowlicks in your bangs or at the front of your head are hard to ignore. To tackle this type, Cara Wilbur of SpaDash recommends applying a lightweight holding spray, such as Kevin Murphy Anti Gravity Spray ($38), to the roots when hair is very wet. Next, using a fine tooth comb, keep hair flat to the scalp and use a slight back-and-forth motion at the root—kind of like windshield wipers—until hair is 50 percent dry. Continue drying hair, directing it the way you want it to lay. Once it's completely dry, spritz a dry finishing spray, like Kristin Ess Hair Dry Finish Working Texture Spray ($14), for added hold that won't weigh hair down.

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