A cowlick is that often annoying little sprig of hair that seems to grow in a different direction from everything else and just won't lie down. A cowlick is often present at the crown, but can occur anywhere on the head where the growth direction forms a spiral pattern. Often, guys can have more than one cowlick.
Got a tuft that's always sticking up? What's a guy to do? The easiest solution, naturally, is to cut it all off. Obviously, not every guy wants a buzzcut, so there are other options for controlling your 'lick.
Cowlicks at the Crown
When you have a cowlick at the top and back of your head (your crown), you'll often find this will stick up if not properly cut. To control a cowlick at the back of the head, you'll either need to leave the hair long enough so the weight of the hair holds it down or cut it short enough so it doesn't stick up in the first place. Examining the direction of the hair growth can also be helpful. Often a cowlick will pop up as a result of trying to style the hair against the growth pattern and simply brushing the hair in the opposite direction can fix the problem. For those wanting to go short, an Ivy League haircut is often a great option.
Cowlicks in the Front
Nothing can be more annoying than having that odd sprig of hair sticking up in the front. As with any cowlick, cutting it off or leaving it long enough so the weight holds it down are two options. If these don't work, trying to style the hair in the direction of the cowlick's growth pattern should help tame the little beast. A shorter textured haircut can also help minimize the problem. Of course, there's always styling gel -- give a little product a try.
Cowlicks at the Neckline
Most guys don't spend a lot of time looking at the back of their own head, but everybody else sees it, so it's not a bad idea to take a look once in awhile. Cowlicks at the nape are often sections of hair that grow in an upward pattern causing the hair to stick out at an odd angle. I'm beginning to sound like a broken record, but the two best solutions are to go real short or grow it long enough so the weight of the hair pulls it down. For neckline cowlicks, a short classic taper or bald fade are my favorite options.
Controlling a cowlick, no matter where it is on the head, takes patience and a great haircut. Finding a skilled barber or stylist is essential. The reason many guys end up with cowlicks sticking up all over the place is because of an unskilled haircutter. For guys with bad cowlicks, I suggest asking your barber or stylist to cut the hair dry so there's no water weight on the hair that will unnaturally hold the cowlick down. You should also ask for your haircutter for recommendations on the best style to help minimize your 'licks. A short, buzzed style normally works, but a longer layered style or messy textured cut can also be great options, too.