“Is this a cowlick, or am I balding?” — now there’s a question that gets a lot of Google traction.

This pesky hair condition — really a hair “appearance” — is typically found on the crown or hairline. It materializes as a spiral pattern on your head that makes your hair look, well, probably not the way you want it to. The exact way it looks varies from person to person. Some may see their hair sticking straight up, a la Alfalfa in Little Rascals, while others see an entire spiral on their heads. But there is one common denominator: it’s annoying.

So, how do you tame a cowlick? The good news is that there are many ways to do it.

What, exactly, is a cowlick?

The name actually derives from the pattern calves get on their heads from their mothers after they’ve bathed them. That pattern, which might look cute on a baby cow’s head, is not as ideal on a human head.

A cowlick can appear in different places, such as the front of the hairline, the crown of your head, or around your forehead. Basically, it’s a piece of hair that grows at an angle against the rest of your hair, thus standing out.

What causes cowlicks?

Usually, cowlicks are simply hereditary, caused by your genes. They can also happen after a serious head injury, surgery, or even if you’ve shaved your head. That’s because this can affect the way your hair grows. Or, if you’ve had a hair transplant, that could be another factor in cowlick growth, since you can’t really predict the pattern that will result.

There are a number of old wives’ tales surrounding the idea of cowlicks, too. For example, some people believe that having a cowlick means you were dropped on your head as a baby. Or that it can predict the gender of a second child. Or that it correlates to right- or left-handedness. But, fun as they may be, they’re just myths!

In fact, pretty much everyone has a cowlick to some extent — they’re just more obvious in some than others. They can even occur in facial hair, although they’re not that visible.

How do I get rid of a cowlick?

Now that you know what a cowlick is and why you have one, you’re probably wondering how to get rid of them. Here are some tips to fix a cowlick.

Products So, what’s the best product for fixing a cowlick? With so many choices on the market, there’s a lot to consider. Pomade, for example, can not only help you get fuller, thicker-looking hair — it tames cowlicks, too! In addition to pomade, there are a number of other hair products for cowlicks, such as shampoos, conditioners, clays, sprays, and gels.

Hair Styling There are numerous ways to style your hair, often with the aid of products like the ones we’ve described, that will help you hide a cowlick.

One of the simplest approaches is to change your part. Switch it up to cover up your cowlick, experiment with middle or side parts. What looks best for you depends on factors like the direction in which your hair naturally grows and its texture.

Or, try blow-drying your hair in the opposite direction of the cowlick — something that will also make it look thicker and fuller. Depending on the length of your hair, you could also switch up your style.

Haircuts Another approach is to get a haircut that will hide your cowlick. The best cuts, however, will vary according to how, exactly, your cowlick is growing. An undercut, for instance, is a great way to combat cowlicks that sprout from the crown. For pointers on the best cuts for you, ask your hairstylist for advice — they can also recommend ways to style it to keep that annoying cowlick at bay.

Is it possible to experience both a cowlick and hair loss?

Does a cowlick mean balding? Definitely not! That said, because some cowlicks expose skin on the scalp, you may mistake it for bald patches. This can happen depending on the direction of the cowlick and the form it takes. But it’s important to know that a cowlick is not a bald patch or hair loss of any kind.

That said, cowlicks and hair loss can happen at the same time. In fact, some of the same products, like thickening pomade, can be used to address both conditions. With more severe hair loss, however, you may need to consider treatments beyond over-the-counter remedies.

Ultimately, through changes in grooming habits, hairstyling, and the right products and tools you can hide a cowlick. While it’s impossible to banish it forever, you can make it less visible and feel more confident about your hair.