7 Tips for Managing Beard Cowlicks

A cowlick is defined as a lock of hair that grows in the opposite direction of your natural hair growth pattern.  Cowlicks are not easily combed flat and will often stick straight up from the surface of your skin – making them downright annoying to deal with.

Just like the hair on top of your head, facial hair is susceptible to having cowlicks.  Here are a few tips on how to manage beard cowlicks.

1. You Can’t Train Them Away

One of the biggest myths about cowlicks is that you can quickly fix them by training your beard.  This often means that if you comb or brush your beard repetitively in the same direction for several days, the facial hair will learn the new growth direction and then grow that way permanently – however, this simply isn’t the case.

Unfortunately, beard cowlicks will never suddenly change their growth direction. 

Instead, factors such as hair health, genetics, age, and even facial hair color may cause gradual changes in beard growth patterns over several years as your body slowly ages.  In short, there is no quick and permanent fix for a beard cowlick.

2. Stubble or Long Facial Hair Only

When managing beard cowlicks, it’s best to either grow your facial hair very short or very long.  

illustration showing how beard cowlicks can be managed

A cowlick on stubble facial hair will be less noticeable and easier to maintain.  

Medium-length beards, those with approximately one to four months of growth, rarely have enough weight to help bend the direction of the cowlick.

Conversely, if you let your facial hair grow to a substantial length (at least six months), gravity can help physically bend and pull down the cowlick, so your facial hair looks more uniform.  This, of course, depends on where the cowlick is located.  If the cowlick is under your chin, gravity won’t help much, whereas a cowlick on your neck or cheek has a better chance of being pulled downwards.

3. Choose a Facial Hair Style to Compliment the Cowlick

Building from the previous section, selecting a facial hair style that embraces a beard cowlick is often the best course of action.

If the cowlick is on your cheek or neck, then simply growing a stubble matched with a longer mustache or goatee is a great way to still have facial hair without a noticeable misdirection of hair growth.  

Additionally, if you let your facial hair grow for six to 12 months, the hair from the cowlick area will likely be hardly noticeable when styled appropriately.

4. Styling Beard Care Products

Beard conditioners such as beard balm or mustache wax have styling agents such as beeswax that can help to tame unruly facial hair.  Applying a beard balm with a firm hold to your beard may provide some structure of the cowlick and the rest of your facial hair.

For an extra firm hold, mustache wax should be considered.  This has a much higher concentration of wax that will provide you with an even greater level of control.

5. Adding Heat to Lock-In the Style

Adding heat through the use of a flat iron, blowdryer, or electric beard straighter should be used as a last resort.  While effective at manipulating curly or unruly facial hair, these tools can also cause permanent damage and beard split ends.  

6. Using the Right Conditioner

When washing your beard, you must use a conditioner that restores the necessary moisture and oils to your hair follicles.  Rather than using a harsh chemical-based shampoo or body wash that dries out and strips the vital oils away, consider using a natural beard wash instead.  

This should add a bit of weight to your beard, making it slightly easier to manage the hairs sticking straight up from a cowlick.

7. Embrace The Cowlick

Truth be told, cowlicks are completely natural and are found in the facial hair of many men.  The chances are high that most people won’t even notice one unless you point it out. So rather than going through extreme measures to resolve a cowlick, embrace it.  

It’s a distinct characteristic of your facial hair that makes you unique.

Adam Williams

As the lead editor of Tools of Men, Adam loves men's grooming products. Particularly of interest is managing facial hair and perfecting the art of the modern man's skincare routine. His work has been featured or quoted in several publications, including New York Magazine, Vice, Sharpologist, MIC, Elite Daily, and more. When Adam isn't working, he enjoys spending time with his two little kids who keep him both on his toes and young at heart.

Ask a Question