how to get rid of cowlicks and add volume

I’ve spent most of my life as a blonde. But every few years or so I can tell that my hair needs a break from the bleach. Fried blonde is not a good look on me and I was starting to reach that point. So while blonde is by far my favorite color, every couple years I darken up for a bit to give my hair a chance to get healthy again. I always love it when I’m sitting in the chair at the hair dressers…then I get home and start to panic at the person I don’t recognize in the mirror. But it’s only hair right?!

Anyway,  this is a bit random, but I thought I would write a post about how I get rid of my gnarly cowlicks every morning (actually, every morning that I wash my hair) and how I use a flat iron to add volume.  Because of my hair pulling, I have really unruly cowlicks in the areas where my hair has grown back in–mostly on the crown of my head and the two spots on the side of my forehead.  And since cutting my hair short, I have noticed weird flipage that happens at the ends of my hair–if I don’t blow dry and flat iron them then one side flips out and the other side flips under.  Needless to say, allowing my hair to air dry is NOT a pretty picture.
photoHere is a before and after picture.  The left is the beginning stages of my hair air drying–it only gets worse the more it dries.  Left is after I blow dry and flat iron out the cowlicks. sam villa blow dryer

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always used an inexpensive drug store blow dryer that usually only cost me $19.99 or so.  I use it for a year or two until it starts to smell like burnt hair and begins to spark. Then I toss it a spend another $20 on a new one.  A blow dryer is a blow dryer is a blow dryer–so I thought.  BUT THEN…then Sam Villa sent me a new flat iron and blow dryer and I learned that there is positively a difference in the end result of your hair based on the quality of your tools.  What a difference I saw with the new flat iron and dryer!  My hair had less fly-aways,  was smoother, had more volume and never got too hot (thus minimizing damage).  AND it dried way quicker than with my drugstore dryer–and since I hate taking the time to dry my hair that was the biggest perk of all!IMG_0104

Here are my daily tools for blow drying out my cowlicks and using a flat iron to achieve a sleek bob style:
Ionic Hair Dryer (on sale in August)
Sleekr Straightening Iron (on sale in August)
1.5″ Thermal Styling Brush (this is the key to volume!)
Wet Brush (the most amazing de-tangling brush ever)
Paddle Brush (it feels like an incredible scalp massage)
Thermal Protectant Spray

get rid of cowlicks

beforeFirst I spray my hair with a heat protectant to minimize damage–this one is my favorite. I blow dry my hair in sections, starting with the very underneath portion first.  Sidenote: I always love the way my hair dresser blow dries me out–but I have never been able to get the hang of the round brush.  But then I watched closely on my last visit and I learned the round brush secret–LET THE HAIR COOL! So use the blow dryer and round brush to get the hair dry–then when the section of hair is dry remove the heat and leave the round brush in until the hair cools–then remove the round brush slowly.  If your hair is ultra-fine you can even use a light-hold hair spray to help it keep its volume.

blow dry 1First layer of hair complete. Extra smooth with added volume.  blow dry 2
I repeat the exact same process on the next layer of hair. blow dry 3
Then I pull down the final (and most important) top layer of hair to dry. blow dry 4I begin by separating the crown portion of my hair from the rest and starting there.  This is my biggest problem area as far as hair thinning and cowlicks and it usually has no volume.  I follow the same steps above on my crown.  Only I let my hair get a bit hotter once dry and I leave the round brush in longer to give it extra hold.  blow dry5

I continue to blow dry my hair in sections moving toward the front of my hair using the same technique of letting the hair cool before removing the round brush.  blow dry 6I use my hand to feel the hair and brush to know when it has cooled so I can release the hair slowly.  If you remove the hair when it is still hot it will lose its volume. blow dry 7
blow dry 8

Now I focus on some of my target cowlick areas around the front and I round brush as closely to my scalp as possible to remove them–blow drying in a forward motion towards my face the who time. blow dry 9

blow dry 10
Once my hair is all dry, I run the paddle brush through it a few times and get ready to use the flat iron. I was shocked when I learned that I could use a flat iron to get volume in the crown of my hair–I always thought I was losing volume the more I flat ironed my hair–but not with this technique.  cowlick 1First, I run the flat iron through the crown of my hair 2-3 times until its pretty hot. Then I immediately roll it up in the thermal styling brush–leaving about 1.5-2 inches between my scalp and the iron.

cowlick 2
Then I use the flat iron in my hair just below the brush.  I slowly move the brush and the flat iron through the section of hair at the same time.
cowlick 3
cowlick 4

Next, I pull the flat iron through the ends of my hair and quickly (while the hair is still hot) I roll it back up in the thermal brush all the way to my scalp.  Then I hold the brush in my hair until its no longer hot to the touch.  cowlick 5
Then I give it a quick spray and slowly release the brush.
cowlick 6
HELLO volume!volume 1

To minimize damage and maximize volume, I try not to flat iron every square inch of my hair.  So now I just focus on the ends and ironing them so they don’t flip out.  Then I flat iron the sections of hair around my face and bangs area (another cowlick prone area). cowlick 8
cowlick 9
cowlick 10
get rid of cowlicks tutorial
You can watch a SUPER helpful video tutorial of this technique here:

To watch how I use a flat iron to create beach curls in short hair, check out this video post:

how to curl short hair

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  • Reply
    August 19, 2014 at 9:35 am

    i love your hair color it looks pretty! and by the way, your eyebrows and lip look amazing:)

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    August 20, 2014 at 11:12 am

    Good post. I learn something totally new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon everyday.
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    August 20, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    You give the best beauty tips! Love your blog! I always look forward to a new post 🙂

  • Reply
    August 21, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    Instead of letting your hair cool on the brush… wrap the section in a 2 inch Velcro roller to cool . Then repeat with more heated sections and Velcro rollers . I finally realized this trick 😉 much easier way to get volumn and smoothness !

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    September 1, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    Sam’s products are amazing and he is too. Just curious…what darkest color on your ombré? It’s beautiful.

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    September 11, 2014 at 3:53 am

    Thank you so much for writing this! I have also struggled with Trichotilomania and have thinning hair and cowlicks at the crown of my head. My hair is fine and straight and I can never seem to get any volume on top. I cannot wait to try out this method to see how it will help!

  • Reply
    October 16, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    Have you ever tried using velcro rollers to let your hair cool??? They come in all different sizes to create different looks and the best part…your hair cools while you continue drying the rest of your hair. And when thats done, you can multi-task (apply makeup, do some housework). When you remove the rollers, use a little hairspray to hold the curls and within an hour they’ll relax into soft waves. I find this method to be extremely efficient and everyone asks if I just had my hair done.

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    November 10, 2014 at 6:55 am

    You would look great with a deep auburn color on your hair. Your skin is more olive so blonde tends to blend in with the skin unless it’s almost platinum. A deep auburn with your side part would play up your eyes and compliment your skin. Thanks afor the volume tip about cooling the hair before removing the brush. No wonder I lose volume. Great tip I’m going to try in the morning!

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    March 20, 2015 at 6:18 am

    oh thank you thank you thankyou!
    My hair looks so much like yours when it’s naturally dry complete with curl under on one side and flip out on the other. I can’t wait to try out this technique! right after I buy a decent hairdryer!!

    again, thankyou!

  • Reply
    April 28, 2015 at 10:56 am

    Instead of holding the brush in the hair while it cools and rolling and re-rolling the hair in the brush, use the cool shot button (blue button) on your Sam Villa blow dryer to cool the hair before unrolling it from the brush. It helps lock the style in place.

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    June 17, 2015 at 7:39 am

    You really make it seem so easy together with your presentation but
    I find this matter to be really one thing that I think I’d never understand.
    It kind of feels too complex and extremely broad for me.
    I’m taking a look ahead on your subsequent put up, I will try to get the
    cling of it!

  • Reply
    June 24, 2015 at 4:22 am

    Hi Ashely!

    On average how long does this hairstyle take? I’m completely new to round brushing and a flat iron but would love to be able to get rid of my cowlicks in the back of my hair.

  • Reply
    December 9, 2016 at 12:16 pm

    You are using too much heat on your hair and your ends are looking a little fried. If I were you I would trim off the ends and apply a heat protectant if your not already using one and only use the brush to get volume. You don’t have the thickest of hair so I suggest using a round boar brush only it will give you volume, shine and less fly aways. The one in the picture has a metal barrel and they will get hot and stay hot longer. Also, only ppl with thick hair should use Ionic tools. Try using ceramic and/or tourmaline tools. You hair will thank you.

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    April 17, 2017 at 8:03 am

    I can’t do anything with the HUGE cowlick I have on the left side of the crown. Always a battle.

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    October 15, 2017 at 10:47 am

    Looks like a lot of trouble!!

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    Anita Weigel Manis
    November 10, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    I just loved this column! You hairstyling techniques are so right on & useful! I just have one comment that is different! I think some of you all are using the term cowlick wrong!
    A cowlick is a part of your hair that for some reason has decided to grow in a different direction than the rest of your hair. Generally at the crown or right in the middle of your hairline on your forehead! Your hair will be growing nice & straight right across your fore head & all of a sudden it will twist a little! You look like a cow walked up to you & gave you a lick, thus the name!
    I personally think they are beautiful. But the people that have them; not so much! You can’t redirect them with curling irons or anything! That hair grows that direction! You can curl that hair anyway you want! But at the base, it still goes as it grows!

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