Head waves are usually considered to be the refracted waves propagating along flat interfaces with an underlying higher velocity. However, the path that the rays travel along in media with irregular interfaces is not clear. Here we study the problem by simulation using a new approach of the spectral-element method with some overlapped elements (SEMO) that can accurately evaluate waves traveling along an irregular interface. Consequently, the head waves are separated from interface waves by a time window. Thus, their energy and arrival time changes can be analyzed independently. These analyses demonstrate that, contrary to the case for head waves propagating along a flat interface, there are two mechanisms for head waves traveling along an irregular interface: a refraction mechanism and transmission mechanism. That is, the head waves may be refracted waves propagating along the interface or transmitted waves induced by the waves propagating in the higher-velocity media. Such knowledge will be helpful in constructing a more accurate inversion method, such as head wave travel-time tomography, and in obtaining a more accurate model of subsurface structure which is very important for understanding the formation mechanism of some special areas, such as the Tibetan Plateau.