background decoration background decoration background decoration

What Is a Hair Cowlick?

7 min read 2023 May 22
Written by Moerie Team
background decoration background decoration

Have you ever wondered why some strands of hair seem to defy gravity and stand out from the rest? Perhaps you’ve experienced the frustration of styling your hair only to be foiled by a stubborn tuft that refuses to cooperate for that celebrity hair day. Well, you’re not alone in your hair woes! These little hair quirks are known as cowlicks, and they can be both fascinating and perplexing.

What is a cowlick, to begin with? It is a typical variation in a natural hair growth pattern, affecting individuals of all ages, ethnicities, and hair types. While there isn’t definitive data on the exact prevalence of cowlicks in the general population, it is safe to say that almost everyone has experienced the quirks of a cowlick at some point in their lives.

In this article, we’ll delve into the world of cowlicks, exploring what they are, why they occur, and how they can affect our hairstyles. Whether you’re trying to understand your own cowlick or simply curious about this hair phenomenon, let’s embark on this journey together.

Understanding Cowlicks: Causes and Characteristics 

Ever wondered why some have more cowlicks on their head than others? Keep on reading to find out why. 

The science behind cowlicks and hair growth patterns

A cowlick occurs due to variations in the direction of hair growth within specific areas of the scalp. While most hair follows a consistent hair pattern, a cowlick disrupts this uniformity and creates distinct hair whorls or spirals. These hair anomalies are a result of genetic and structural factors that influence how our hair follicles develop.

Variations in genes responsible for follicle development, as well as the alignment of dermal papillae within the scalp, contribute to the formation of a cowlick. Did you know that even the positioning of the fetus in the womb during pregnancy can also impact a cowlick’s development?

It’s important to note that a cowlick is distinct from bald spots. While a cowlick refers to variations in the direction of hair growth, bald spots are areas where hair loss occurs. Cowlicks and bald spots are not directly related, and having a cowlick does not necessarily indicate or cause balding.

However, it’s worth mentioning that, in some cases, certain hair loss conditions or hair thinning may coincide with a cowlick. If you notice a combination of a cowlick and a bald spot, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional or dermatologist to evaluate and address any underlying causes.

Common locations of cowlicks on the scalp 

When it comes to the locations of cowlicks on the scalp, there are a few common areas where they tend to manifest. One prominent location is the crown of the head, where a circular or spiral cowlick may be present. This crown cowlick can create challenges when trying to achieve certain hairstyles, as it often resists attempts to lay it flat. 

Another common area is along the hairline, where a cowlick can cause a section of hair to stand out or grow in a different direction from the rest. This hairline cowlick can affect the appearance of bangs or framing layers, requiring careful styling techniques to accommodate its presence.

Factors that contribute to the development of cowlicks

Several factors contribute to the development of cowlick hair. Genetics play a significant role, as hair growth patterns are inherited traits passed down from our parents. If one or both of your parents have a cowlick, there’s a higher chance you may have one as well. 

Additionally, the shape and orientation of the hair follicles in specific areas of the scalp can influence the direction in which the hair grows, leading to the formation of a cowlick. 

Environmental factors, such as the positioning of the fetus in the womb during pregnancy, can also impact the development of a cowlick. The pressure exerted on the hair follicles during this critical growth period can affect the natural alignment of hair strands.

Challenges of Styling Cowlick Hair 

Cowlicks, with their unruly nature, can present unique challenges when it comes to hair styling. From hair parting difficulties to limitations in achieving certain styles, working with them requires some understanding and patience.

Hair parting difficulties

One of the primary challenges of styling cowlick hair lies in hair parting. Cowlicks tend to disrupt the natural flow of hair, making it challenging to create clean and precise partings. 

When attempting to divide the hair into sections, cowlicks may cause the hair to separate in unexpected directions, leading to uneven or messy part lines. This can be particularly frustrating for those aiming for a polished and symmetrical look.

Hairstyle limitations

In addition to the hair parting, cowlicks can impose limitations on certain hairstyles. Styles that rely on sleek and smooth hair, such as tight updos or sleek ponytails, may encounter resistance from cowlicks that refuse to lay flat. 

Cowlicks may create bumps or irregularities in the hair, making it challenging to achieve the desired sleekness and neatness. It may require extra effort and the use of appropriate styling products and techniques to tame cowlicks and achieve a desired hairstyle.

Furthermore, cowlicks can affect the appearance and behavior of bangs or fringe. They may cause sections of the bangs to separate or curl in an unintended manner, making it difficult to maintain a consistent and cohesive fringe. 

Styling techniques such as blow-drying with a round brush or using specific styling products can help manage cowlicks in the bangs area, but it may still require some experimentation and adaptation to find the best approach.

Tips for Managing and Styling Cowlicks 

A cowlick may pose styling challenges, but with the right techniques and strategies, you can tame and even embrace these unique hair patterns. 

Here are some tips to help you tame (but not get rid of!) a cowlick and create hairstyles that work harmoniously with them:

Hair care techniques

Proper hair care can help minimize the appearance of unruly whorls. Start by choosing a suitable shampoo and conditioner that cater to your hair type. Avoid using heavy products that add weight to your hair and make a cowlick more pronounced. 

Additionally, blow-dry your hair using a round brush or a round-barrel blow dryer, directing the airflow in the same direction as your cowlick to encourage smoother hair growth and reduce the appearance of unruly strands. Avoid pointing your blow dryer in the opposite direction, as it can make a cowlick more prone to sticking straight. 

Styling tricks

To work with cowlicks rather than against them, incorporate some styling tricks into your routine. Experiment with different styling products, such as mousse or texturizing sprays, to add volume and control to your cowlick areas. 

Consider using a flat iron or curling iron to manipulate the direction of your cowlick, coaxing it into a more desirable shape. Opt for hairstyles that embrace the natural volume and movement of your cowlicks, such as tousled waves or textured updos, where the quirks of a cowlick can add an element of effortless charm. Whether you have short hair or long hair, adding a few waves to your hair texture may even out the unruly whorl and make it less noticeable. 

Haircut considerations

When it comes to managing a cowlick, the right haircut can make all the difference. Work with an experienced hairstylist who understands cowlicks and can recommend suitable haircut options. 

Layering can help minimize the bulkiness often associated with a cowlick, while strategic haircuts can create balance and camouflage the appearance of cowlicks. For instance, a side-swept fringe can help redirect the direction of a front hairline cowlick, while incorporating textured layers can add movement and soften the look of a crown cowlick, making it less noticeable.

By implementing these tips and developing a personalized approach to styling, you can manage your cowlick with confidence. Remember – while you can tame most cowlicks, it’s impossible to completely get rid of a cowlick. Embrace the unique swirling pattern of your hair, and let it become a defining feature that adds character and charm to your hairstyle.


Cowlicks are intriguing and often unpredictable hair patterns that add a touch of uniqueness to our individuality. While they can present styling challenges, understanding their causes and characteristics empowers us to embrace and work with them to create hairstyles that celebrate our personal flair.

Remember, cowlicks are not limited to any specific gender or hair type. They can occur in both males and females, and their prevalence varies from person to person. Whether you’re contending with a crown cowlick or a hair whorl, know that you’re not alone in this.

With the right techniques and a dash of creativity, you can manage and style your cowlicks with confidence. From hair care techniques that minimize their appearance to styling tricks that make them work to your advantage, there’s a world of possibilities to explore. Embrace it!


Your Ultimate Guide to Healthy Hair: Best Hair Care Practices
9 min read 2023 Jun 6
Some say you should wash your hair as rarely as possible, while others are telling you how damaging it can be. Some say a blow dryer is your...
Read more
Biotin vs. Collagen
7 min read 2023 May 5
Biotin and collagen have gained tremendous popularity in recent years thanks to their ability to support and enhance the health of our hair, skin, and nails. Both ingredients...
Read more
Why Does My Hair Grow So Slow?
7 min read 2023 May 5
Are you frustrated by the seemingly sluggish growth of your hair? Hair growth rate plays a crucial role in our appearance and confidence. By understanding the factors determining...
Read more
background decoration background decoration background decoration background decoration background decoration

Moérie is here to help with thin, damaged, slow-growing hair

Everyone’s hair is different. Tell us a bit about yourself to see if we can help you.

Haircare products
take a quiz
take a quiz