November 17, 2022

For some of us bearded guys, we get strange patches of hairs that refuse to follow the direction of the majority - and instead grow in a weird spiral pattern. No matter how much we oil and brush in the direction we want those hairs to point, they simply will not cooperate and continue doing their spiral thing.

This is a beard cowlick. It’s also sometimes called a swirl or vortex or a whorl.

While it’s a totally natural “imperfection” that occurs randomly, it’s still frustrating AF and can dash your dreams of how you always wanted your beard to look.

So what do you do about your beard cowlick? Keep reading. It’s not “curable”, BUT… we’ve got several options to help you avoid having to shave… and avoid hating cows.

What’s the Cause Behind This Beard Cowlick From Hell?

The culprits behind this abnormal swirl-patterned growth of facial hair are genetics and/or lifestyle. Usually genetics are the main cause, which means your spiral hair growth pattern has been handed down by previous generations. Check their beards and you’ll probably see cowlicks that refuse to be brushed into a downwards direction too. Thanks gramps.

If the DNA inside your body isn’t the issue, then your beard cowlick is likely the result of not caring for your facial hair properly. When a beard is not cleaned well, or oiled and brushed regularly, hairs can become densely curly and get tangled into knots. Once that happens, it’s easy for the direction some hairs grow in to be sent haywire.

The good news is that both of those cowlick causes are manageable.

Who Called it a Cowlick?

We’re not sure who gave it the name, but we do know it was named after cows licking their calves and sometimes leaving swirling hair patterns. Awww :)

Can you Fix a Beard Cowlick?

For a genetic cowlick, sadly, no amount of repetitive brushing and training will permanently change the direction of growth. That direction is hardwired in at the follicles.

But There’s Hope…

The uncooperative hairs are usually most frustrating in the early to mid stages of beard growth. So, if you keep your beard really short, try growing it longer!

With a stubble-length beard, the hairs in a cowlick will tend to stick straight out, which isn’t a big deal and won’t be so noticeable.

When a beard reaches half an inch long or so, the “sticking out” continues and looks very different from the other hairs that behave themselves by angling downwards.

Once whiskers get longer, after about 4 months of growth, they’re weightier and can curl downwards with gravity and look more uniform (although the first quarter-inch still pokes outwards). The only exception here might be a cowlick on the underside of your chin or jawline.

Tip #1 If the Cowlick is On Your Cheek or Neck

In this situation, you can find some cool workarounds. Perhaps grow only stubble-length whiskers on the affected area. Or else you could work around it with a chinstrap beard that keeps the cowlick area shaved. Another option is to go with a goatee. Some legends have even hidden their cheek cowlicks by growing long handlebar mustaches.

Tip #2 Grow it Long

If the options in the preceding paragraph aren’t for you or don’t do the trick, then grow your beard long over 6 months to a year. A beard cowlick is most obvious around the 2 to 5-month stage of growth. Then the hairs will be long and “weighty” enough to style more uniformly with a blow dryer, beard oil, good brushing and some beard balm - or even with a dab of mustache wax for super hold.

This will definitely manage your cowlick much better. The only issue may be enduring the cowlick being super obvious during those months of growing out.

Tip #3 Condition and Moisturize Your Beard

How do you do this?

  1. By never washing your beard with regular hair shampoos, soaps or body washes.
  2. By washing only with a beard wash packed with conditioning nutrients.
  3. By applying a light coat of beard moisturizer after washing and before applying beard oil.

Better conditioned whiskers are more cooperative and less inclined to curl, knot and tangle. You want to maintain an ideal balance of essential oils in your beard. Therefore, avoid harsh products that strip those oils away.

Tip #4 Use Firm-Hold Beard Products

After your twice or three times a week cleansing - and after your daily rinse with warm water, apply some products that will give you some extra help:

For those truly pesky cowlick hairs, a tiny scrape of mustache wax can be used to force them into the right direction and make them stay that way all day. Mustache wax contains natural beeswax that sets firmly. Check our blog on how to apply mustache wax.

Tip #5 Brush - Every Damn Day

Although there’s nothing you can do to eliminate a beard cowlick, that doesn’t mean you should stop brushing. Far from it!

You should be brushing at least once every day with a wild boar bristle beard brush. Several times a day with this kind of brush is even better. Wild boar bristles are hardy but gentle and flexible, so they distribute an even coating of beard oil and beard balm, while massaging and exfoliating your pores and follicles below.

The better the health of your beard and facial skin, the better time you’ll have working with that beard cowlick.

Tip #6 Go Messy and Embrace Your Unique Rugged Look

There’s no rule that says you absolutely must obsess over how your beard cowlick looks and that you should work to hide it. Chances are, you are the only one that notices it.

Instead of slaving to make your cowlick match the rest of your beard, you can always let the rest of your beard match your cowlick. Do this by creating a messier look all over.

This solution isn’t for everyone, but it can work. Some dudes don’t want a messy beard. Others may find it challenging to oil and brush and then mess it up without creating knots. But it’s doable.

There’s something masculine and virile about a “scuffled” look. Maybe try it for a getaway or a weekend and see what you think.

What About Beard Straightening Tools for Cowlicks?

We say a big NO to these. Hot blow dryers, straightening irons, even heated brushes… These damage your beard hairs and can even make your cowlick look more obvious.

PERSIST! Don’t Shave Your Entire Beard Off!

Whatever happens, my man… no matter how frustrating your cowlick may be… we beg you to keep your beard in some way, shape or form. We may be super partial to beards, but we  think most guys look 100 times better with a cowlicked beard than totally clean shaven!

Stay the course! Keep your beard! Use these tips to work with your beard cowlick, or even work around it. In time, it will be way less noticeable - or even totally unnoticeable - and you’ll continue on your studly way with the rugged confidence that an awesome beard can provide.

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