How to Get Your Cowlicks Under Control, Straight from the Pros

Cowlicks/Bella Hadid - Lead
Photo: Jeff Spicer/WireImage

Unruly hair can be more frustrating than swiping a Metrocard with an insufficient fare when you’re running late. This rings especially true when it comes to cowlicks, those stubborn parts of your hair that grow opposite to the rest of your strands. Usually at the front, the crown, or the back of your head, these are the pieces that 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.”

In lieu of going rogue and tacking minutes onto our hair routines, we polled four pro-stylists for their expert ways to calm cowlicks.

Do the Flip

There may not be a foolproof way to eliminate cowlicks, but you can trick the unruly hair. After washing it, Wesley O’Meara recommends blow-drying and setting your hair in the opposite direction. Corey Tuttle, Honey Artists hairstylist says to start off by blow-drying your hair in the direction of the cowlick, and after several seconds, switch to drying in the other direction. A round brush will make it easy to hold and pull the hair in both directions, and a diffuser on a low setting will work well on curls. “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.

Comb it Down

When the hair is wet, apply a small amount of strong-hold gel like Matrix Style Link Super Fixer Strong Hold Gel ($18; at the point of the problem. “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 into submission as you work. For extra reinforcement, you can flat iron the area and hold it with a clip as you style the rest of your hair. To ensure the strand stays flat throughout the day, Stenson recommends lightly spritzing it with a hairspray such as Matrix Style Link Style Fixer Hairspray ($18;

Grab a Flat Iron

If your cowlick only shows itself once your hair is dried, pick up your trusty flat iron. Corey Tuttle, Honey Artists hairstylist says that applying extreme heat to the specific area can help flatten the stubborn hair. Just make sure you get the iron as close as possible to the root of the section of the hair.

Put a Clip on It

This tip might seem like an obvious quick-fix to hiding a cowlick, but pinning the out of control hair can also work as a preventive measure. Tuttle suggests using a hair clip (one that won’t leave a dent) to hold the cowlick in place before hitting the lights at night. You’ll wake up to find that the beast has been tamed.

Window Wash It

For cowlicks in your bangs or at the front of your head, imagine wipers on a car window, and that’s exactly how to method works to smooth it out. Cara Wilbur Kevin.Murphy GoldKey Educator and Master Stylist at Soon Beauty Lab in New York, says to start working on the cowlick when hair is still very wet, and apply a lightweight holding spray like Kevin.Murphy Anti. Gravity Spray ($28; to the roots. Next, using a small tooth comb, keep hair flat to the scalp and use a slight back and forth motion at the root 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 Kevin.Murphy Doo.Over ($29; for added hold that won’t weigh the hair down.

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