By Angela Sassoon, with insights from New York City Hairstylist Anita Sun
Shag haircuts are all the rage right now for their edgy, tousled vibe. This in-depth guide covers everything you need to know about the various types of shag cuts and how to find one that fits your personal style.
What is a Shag Haircut?
A shag haircut is a versatile hairstyle featuring choppy, textured layers cut close to the head. It creates incredible movement and volume for an effortlessly undone look.
The shag originated in the 1970s with rock stars like Rod Stewart and Mick Jagger sporting longer, heavily layered locks. Over the decades, the style has evolved but maintained its signature piecey layers and texture. Recently, celebs like Miley Cyrus, Billie Eilish, and Zendaya have brought shags back into mainstream fashion. The modern shag is a little shorter and more textured than retro shags for an edgy yet wearable everyday style.
There are many reasons the shag haircut has remained so popular over the years. The choppy, shattered layers work for all different hair types and textures. The lightweight layers lift the hair to add tons of volume and movement. The mix of shorter and longer pieces creates natural dimension, while the ragged ends give that undone, beachy texture.
Shag cuts are also highly customizable for your unique facial features, hair type, and personal style. Whether you want a precision-cut geometric shape or something more organic and tousled, there’s a shag for you. They can be tailored to complement different face shapes with careful layering and fringe.
Overall, shag haircuts are ideal for anyone looking to pump up the natural texture of their hair with a stylish, modern cut that flatters. You can’t go wrong with sexy, carefree shag layers!
(Related: How to Get the Perfect Bixie Haircut).
The Many Benefits of Getting a Shag Cut
There are many excellent reasons to hop on the shag bandwagon:
- Works for all hair types and textures. Whether you have fine straight hair, thick wavy hair, or big curly locks, a shag can enhance what you’ve got .
- Lightweight layers add tons of volume. Removing weight with razored layers gives hair a lift at the roots.
- Choppy ends create an undone, beachy vibe. Ragged ends with different lengths make hair move gorgeously.
- Completely customizable for your face and hair. A skilled stylist can shape it to flatter you.
- Low-maintenance and quick to style. Shags are designed to be easy, lived-in styles.
- On-trend yet timeless style. The shag has staying power, looking great on everyone.
- Fun and edgy look. Shags have a cool, rock n roll vibe that’s also feminine.
- Allows natural texture to take center stage. It embraces waves, curls, frizz, and cowlicks instead of fighting them.
- Movement and flexibility. The layers let hair bounce and flip with your movements.
- Air drys beautifully. You can hydrate hair with conditioner and let it dry naturally.
- Highlights color dimensions. Choppy shags make colors and highlights pop.
- Endlessly changeable. Part it differently, change the styling, or get creative with accessories!
Breaking Down the Main Types of Shag Haircuts
While shags all share the same DNA, there are a few distinct styles under the shag umbrella to consider:
The Classic 70s Shag
- Originated with rock stars in the 1970s
- Features longer layers with heavy feathering and volume
- Grown out bangs swept dramatically to the side
- Creates a laidback, rock n roll vibe
- Works well with naturally wavy or curly hair
- Allowed to air dry and style with minimal products
- Popularized by famous shag rockers like Rod Stewart
The Modern Shag
- Updated version of the classic 70s shag
- Layers are shorter and more heavily textured
- Features thick, side-swept fringe or bangs
- The look is edgy yet professional enough for everyday
- Works with straight, wavy, or curly hair
- Often blow dried or curled to boost volume and shape
- Sported by current celebs like Miley Cyrus
The Curly Shag
- This style is perfect for those with naturally curly hair
- The layers work wonders to enhance natural texture and volume
- Allows curls to take shape instead of the dreaded triangle hair
- Face-framing shape is key to prevent too much width
- Embraces movement of curls instead of tightly controlling them
- Enhanced with curly hair products like gels and curl creams
- Worn by gorgeous curly-haired celebs like Tracee Ellis Ross
The Asymmetrical Shag
- Features dramatic, angled uneven layers
- The front is longer and the back is shorter
- Creates a bold, high-fashion aesthetic
- Oftentimes features a long side fringe or bangs
- Works best on straight to slightly wavy hair
- Requires more styling to perfect the imbalance
- Seen on edgy trendsetters like Demi Lovato
The Mullet Shag
- A shag/mullet hybrid with short layers on top
- Business in the front, party in the back
- Features longer locks falling past the shoulders
- Grungy stylistic callback to the 70s/80s punk scene
- Requires lots of layering and texturizing
- Worn by rock stars like Miley Cyrus and Rihanna
The Wolf Shag
- Incorporates elements of the wolf haircut
- Very short layers on top and sides with longer length below
- Exaggerated mullet or mohawk silhouette
- Statement style needs confidence to pull off
- Must have sufficient length to achieve the wolf look
- Requires significant upkeep to maintain short layers
- Spotted on fashion-forward celebs like Billie Eilish
As you can see, the versatility of the shag haircut offers something for everyone! Discuss your particular hair goals with your stylist to create your perfect shag style.
How to Style a Shag Haircut for Gorgeous Results
One of the best aspects of shag haircuts is that they are meant to be easy, lived-in, and low-maintenance styles. Some simple styling techniques include:
- Air dry for natural texture – Shags look amazing when you skip the blowdryer. Apply some volumizing mousse and let your locks air dry naturally. Embrace the waves!
- Use sea salt spray – Mist your damp shag with sea salt spray. Scrunch hair as it air dries to bring out sexy, beachy texture.
- Blowdry with a round brush – Turn heads by boosting volume with a blow dryer and round brush to flip up your ends.
- Curl pieces – Amp up the volume and shape by curling random sections with a curling iron. Leave ends unfurled.
- Smooth flyaways with oils or serum – Calm frizz and flyaways with a tiny amount of argan oil, marula oil, or frizz-fighting serum.
- Finger style – Sculpt shape using just your fingers to twist, scrunch, and lift pieces.
- Change parts – Switch up your part from side to middle to create new dimension.
- Embrace second day texture – Touch up with dry shampoo and enjoy tousled, sexy second day volume.
- Accessorize – Adorn your shag with fun headbands, barrettes, or bandanas.
Shag hairstyles call for quick, simple styling using your hands and basic products. Have fun bringing out your hair’s natural beauty!
How to Find the Right Stylist for Your Dream Shag Cut
Booking a consultation before your shag haircut is the key first step:
- Look for stylists experienced in cutting shags and layers. Many stylists can handle basic layers. You want someone with mastery of razored texture and volume.
- View online portfolios to see examples of their shag work. Instagram can provide inspiration, but also look through salon websites for real client photos.
- Get personal recommendations from friends who have great shag cuts. Word-of-mouth referrals from people you know always help.
- Discuss hair type, goals, lifestyle etc. during your consultation. Share your hair background, styling abilities, and vision to see if they’re a match.
- Make sure you feel comfortable with their skill level for your desired cut. Don’t feel pressured. Get a second opinion if you’re unsure. It’s your hair!
- Ask questions and share inspiration photos. Have a collaborative discussion. Bring pictures of looks you love to design your custom shag.
- Book a more experienced stylist if going dramatically shorter. Making a major chop requires an expert eye to get the proportions right.
Invest time chatting with potential stylists before committing to the right shag cut for you.
Helpful Tips for Preparing for Your Shag Appointment
Arrive ready to work with your stylist for shag success:
- Come with clean, product-free hair. Don’t arrive with dirty hair. But do skip any product so they see your natural texture.
- Bring multiple inspiration photos. Show examples of shags with shapes, lengths and styles you love.
- Share your hair background. Discuss details like if you color, highlights, relax, or use heat styling.
- Be honest about your daily routine and lifestyle. Do you prefer low maintenance looks? Are you willing to style with hot tools?
- Talk about your hair texture and concerns. Share challenges like fineness or thickness so they can assess your needs.
- Have realistic expectations for upkeep. Understand that shags require trims andstyling for optimal shape.
- Come open-minded! Your stylist may suggest tweaks to help your hair look its best in a shag.
- Show up with clean, dry hair. For best cutting results, don’t arrive with wet, greasy, or styled hair.
Being prepared for your shag consultation helps your stylist recommend the most flattering cut for you.
What to Expect During Your Shag Cut Appointment
When you settle into the stylist’s chair, here’s what typically happens:
- The stylist will do an in-depth assessment of your current hair condition, growth patterns, damage, etc. They’ll discuss your hair background if meeting for the first time.
- To remove any bulk or heaviness, thinning shears may be used strategically. This helps create light, airy layers.
- The stylist will section your hair cleanly to use as a guide for the layered cut. The layers will be cut close to the head for lift.
- Clippers or razor shears will be used to slice into the hair and create messy, choppy texture on the ends.
- Face-framing layers around the hairline will be customized to suit your particular facial features.
- Shorter layers in the crown will be trimmed to increase volume at the roots for a sexy tousled effect.
- If desired, customized bangs will be cut to flatter your face shape. Curtain bangs work well with shags.
Don’t be shy about sharing your length, layering, or shape preferences. This is your haircut – feel comfortable speaking up! Open communication with your stylist is key.
Tips for Maintaining Your Fabulous Shag Haircut
Caring for your shag cut between appointments is important to keep it looking chic:
- Get regular trims every 6-8 weeks. This maintains the silhouette by sharpening up layers as they grow out.
- Use dry shampoo and volumizing products. Dry shampoo boosts fullness between washes. Mousse or salt spray enhance texture.
- Blow dry and curl pieces as needed. Use heat styling to perfect the shape of the precision-cut layers.
- Embrace natural cowlicks and waves. The choppy texture is perfect for accentuating natural kinks and texture.
- Part hair in different spots. Change up your part from side to middle to mix up the style.
- Refresh ends with trims. Book standing appointments every 2 months to nip away split ends.
- Adjust layers over time. As your shag grows out, update the layering to keep the silhouette fresh.
- Use repairing treatments. Penetrative protein-rich treatments can revive overprocessed or damaged hair.
Continual care will keep your shag haircut looking fabulous month after month. Don’t wait too long between cuts!
Shag Haircut Inspiration from Celebrities and Real People
There’s endless inspiration online for shag cuts. Here are some favorite celeb shags and real girl shag hairstyles based on hair type and texture:
Celebrity Shag Haircut Inspiration
- Jane Fonda – The iconic actress proves sophisticated shags work at any age.
- Halle Berry – Her bouncy shag with warm highlights is hair goals.
- Priyanka Chopra – Priyanka’s messy textured shag with side-swept fringe slays.
- Selma Blair – Selma’s shag is sexy nerd chic perfection.
- Anjelica Huston – Angie’s piecey black shag with curtain bangs is eternally chic.
- Tavi Gevinson – Tavi’s short curly red shag is youthful retro perfection.
Shag Hairstyles for Different Hair Types
- Curly shags – Tracee Ellis Ross and Yara Shahidi rock flawless curly shags.
- Wavy shags – Taylor Swift and Maggie Rogers show off chic, touchable texture.
- Straight shags – Sleek straight shags on Olivia Wilde and Demi Moore are striking.
- Thin shags – Katie Holmes and Lucy Boynton work magic on fine hair.
- Thick shags – Kerry Washington and Cardi B look gorgeous with texture.
Modern vs. Retro 70s Shag
- Compare shorter, piecey modern shags to longer, heavily layered 70s style shags.
- Discover why Gen Z icons are bringing back retro 70s shag styles with a modern twist.
There are amazing shag out there for straight hair, curly hair, short hair, and more! Collect inspiration photos tailored to your hair type.
Answers to Common Shag Haircut FAQs
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about shag cuts:
What hair types work best for shag haircuts?
Shags work beautifully on straight, wavy, and curly hair. The layers help thinner hair gain volume, while thick hair gets shape and movement. Very coarse or thick hair may need additional thinning.
How often do I need to get my shag trimmed?
To keep the layers shaped and the ends fresh, plan on a trim every 6-8 weeks. Curly hair can sometimes stretch a little longer between cuts. To be safe, make standing appointments with your stylist.
What types of products are best for styling shaggy hair?
Volumizing mousse, sea salt spray, texturizing powder or spray, and volume powder help enhance texture and pump up the volume. A dab of lightweight oil can smooth flyaways.
How short are the layers in a shag cut?
Layer lengths vary from chin level to shoulder level and are shorter in the back to create lift. Face-framing pieces around the hairline are left longer to softly frame the face.
Is a shag haircut high maintenance?
Not at all! The choppy layers are designed specifically to be easy, tousled, and low-maintenance for busy lifestyles. Quick styling with heat tools or hands is all you need.
Can I still put my hair up in a ponytail with a shag cut?
Yes! The many layers may stick out, but you can easily pull shag hair back into a ponytail, top knot bun, or even a claw clip for an off-duty look.
Have any other questions about shag cuts? Ask your stylist!
Take the Plunge – Go for the Shag Cut You’ve Always Wanted!
Is it time to take your hair to sassy new heights with a shag? Consider going for it! Book a consultation with an experienced stylist. Show them inspiration images of dreamy celeb shags and ones that flatter your texture. Discuss the specific face-shaping layers and length you want. Talk maintenance and styling. Then take a deep breath and make the chop!
With so many edgy, sexy shag variations to try, why not go for that short textured pixie or shoulder-skimming wolf cut you’ve always admired? A good stylist knows how to cut your shag so it enhances your natural texture and bone structure. Don’t be afraid to embrace your inner rock star!
The right shag haircut can transform your look and self-confidence. Play with volume and sass up your style. Change is good. Be bold – take the plunge into fabulous shag hair!
Iskra Banović is our seasoned Editor-in-Chief at BlueFashion. She has been steering the website’s content and editorial direction since 2013. With a rich background in fashion design, Iskra’s expertise spans across fashion, interior design, beauty, lifestyle, travel, and culture.