How to Get Rid of a Cowlick – GQ

Unless you’re Tom Hardy, you probably aren’t trying to make the cowlick look cool. Hardy can pull it off, and while we don’t doubt the same for you, we’re guessing that you would rather just do without.

The cowlick is that stubborn tuft of hair that stands above the rest. It rises at the swirling meeting point of different growth patterns on the head, typically at the back of the crown. Before you try flattening it with heaps of gel or a ball cap, allow us to tell you how to get rid of a cowlick. Yes, it’s possible. You can fix it so that it cooperates and blends with the rest of your hair, without resorting to drastic measures.

There are numerous ways that you can manage this situation. So, here’s how to get rid of a cowlick permanently. Try one, or try them all.

1. Embrace the MessBefore we get to legitimate fixes, there’s one option you should consider first when trying to hide a cowlick: Let it rock. You can do this by making the rest of your head look equally as disheveled, which makes your fussy cowlick look intentional as part of the whole picture. (Beach waves, anyone?) It doesn’t fix the issue of the upright hair, but unless you need to look seriously buttoned-up, then this is the path of least resistance. Which, if you’re already rushing to get out the door, may be your best bet.

Try these texturizing, volumizing products:

2. Go With the Grain to Get Rid of the CowlickThis requires a bit of scrutiny: You need to understand the direction which your hair naturally wants to fall, on every side of the cowlick. This is the point from which you’ll comb that hair—after applying product—in the various directions it wants to fall. This might require a handheld mirror in one hand and a comb in your dominant one, reflecting backwards into a bigger mirror. Eventually you can comb the hair from memory. The key is to understand that the hair is trying to fall in various ways at this swirly meeting place, so you can’t just sweep over it with a comb and assume that it’s all going to agreeably fall together. That’s what we call defying physics, and it just won’t work here.

3. Use Stronger ToolsIf you know your way around a blow dryer, you know that small bit of hot air goes a long way. The heat can change the direction your hair bows, especially when paired with the right styling product. (However, it’ll reset the next time you shower.) So, in addition to a blow dryer, it’s probably time to invest in a damp-hair product—something with a little extra hold that won’t come undone as the day progresses. Apply it to towel-dried hair, prior to blow drying. Comb it into place, and train it again with the comb as you apply heat. You can lock it in with a blast of cold air from the blow dryer at the end of the process.

4. Grow It Out (And Wash It Less in the Meantime)Like an angsty teenager, when that stubborn hair grows up it learns to relax. So, in time, if you just grow your hair out, the cowlick will fix itself, since the weight of the hair will pull it all down. However, if you don’t want to change hairstyle entirely, then the simple act of shampooing less—while conditioning more—will allow the hair to increase in weight by preserving natural moisture and oil levels. (Besides, you’re probably shampooing too much already.)

Here are two conditioners that will help rinse away hair product without stripping any natural moisture. (And they’ll pump a bunch of nourishing ingredients into the hair, in the process.)

5. Consult a ProfessionalIf you want to fix a cowlick, then just get yourself to a barber or salon. Novel idea, we know, but if you let a professional handle it, then he or she can snip, texturize, or train the hair in a way that minimizes the cowlick—or perhaps removes it altogether. Or, maybe you’re primed for a new style while you wait for the cowlick to grow out of its fussy stage. All of this can be addressed from the barber chair.

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