When certain haircuts all of a sudden become trendy, chances are they have some serious roots. The shag haircut is no exception. In the early 1970s, the shag hairstyle became popular and is rumored to have been created by hairstylist Paul McGregor for actress Jane Fonda. The most iconic images of the actress and activist show her rocking the now-classic cut with choppy ends, loads of layers around the crown, and lots of texture. It’s a little rockstar, a little sleek, and tons of fun.
The best thing about the shag haircut? It works on any hair texture and face shape. You can go with your natural texture by air-drying for a more low-maintenance hairstyle, or you can opt to blowdry and style your shag to perfection—the choice is all yours. And although we’re used to seeing the ’70s shag on straight hair, a curly shag haircut is just as gorge. Plus, the style works especially well with all types of bangs (curly hair included!), so if you’re partial to fringe, this could be the cut for you.
The best way to try a shag haircut is to chat with a hairstylist about your face shape, natural texture, and lifestyle (aka how long you want to style your hair). From there, the hairdresser will conjure up a cut that works best for you. That might mean a classic shag, an edgier mullet shag, or a modern shag haircut that’s a little less textured. It’s such a versatile hair trend, the options are truly endless.
No clue where to begin? We’ve got you and your tresses. Find all the best shag haircut ideas to take to your next salon appointment below.
About the Experts:
No one rocks a mullet shag like Miley Cyrus. The rockstar vibe of this medium shag fits her perfectly with shorter baby bangs, longer layers in the front, and shorter strands in the back. “The shag is great for anyone who wants a low-maintenance hairstyle,” Katz says. “I prefer to see it on anyone who has some texture to their hair. The grow-out isn’t that tough either! Just make sure you maintain the short layers on top.” P.S. This is a great cut for those with fine hair!
Leave it to Kirstin Stewart to debut the coolest mullet of 2023. Her messy blunt bangs frame her face and can easily be pushed back for a totally new look.
Ciara shows us that tight ringlets can make for a gorgeous curly shag. The long layers provide texture without adding too much volume, and the curly bangs perfectly frame her face. Most people think of shag haircuts as bobs or lobs, but here’s proof that long shag haircuts are just as trendy. “The good thing about curly maintenance is it doesn’t have to be perfect,” Katz adds.
Camila Cabello’s tousled long hair is all about the layers and choppy styling. “A long shag is basically a choppy layered haircut,” Katz says. “Layers are point cut instead of perfectly symmetrical.” These softer, less dramatic layers also happen to work especially well on thick hair. Cabello may have blow-dried her curly hair to create a look that’s closer to a straight hair shag, but this style works so well that she can go back and forth between styled and her natural texture.
Just like Ciara, Zendaya knows her way around a curly shag haircut with fringe. Her style is a shorter lob (aka long bob) with more dramatic layers. This works especially great on fine hair or thin hair that needs a boost in the volume department. “A bob shag is perfect with curly hair because it brings out the volume,” Katz says. “The more short layers the better.”
Taylor Swift has dared to try a mullet shag in the past (major props to her), but our fave is definitely this piece-y cut that’s ultra-flirty and fits her personality. Go for this style if you have fine, straight hair and want to amp up the texture with a bit of waviness. Katz says it’s especially great for those with bleached blonde hair because the messy style hides any unwanted texture.
Or, skip the wavy hair altogether and embrace your straight hair with long layers. Alexa Chung’s curtain bangs keep the look from falling too flat. Pro tip: You can always add a little mousse for a beachy vibe. “Scrunch and go, or diffuse for extra fluff,” Katz says.
If you’re lucky enough to have natural volume—or know your way around a blow-dry—give your straight hair a boost with choppy layers, especially around the face. Halle Berry’s hairstyle is both laid-back and glam enough for the red carpet.
Prefer a hairstyle that can wash and go? Natasha Lyonne proves you can let your natural texture go wild and still look trendy and cool with a shag haircut. The wavy shag is especially low-maintenance in a mid-length style.
There’s nothing that says you can’t play around with hair color and a short haircut at the same time. Kolo Kish rocked a bob hairstyle with tons of choppy layers and piece-y bangs in this ultra-cool, light pink shade, and we’re obsessed. “A powder-pink shag is perfection!” Katz says. “It’s color and texture. What’s not to love?”
If you’re already sporting a set of trendy curtain bangs, add some long layers to get a lob shag like Julianne Hough. It’s a subtle way to try the trend without heading too far into rockstar territory—and it really shows off your highlights. It's pretty easy to style, too. “To style curtain bangs on a shag, I’d take a small to medium-size round brush and first blow dry them forward,” Porter says. “Once I’ve got a bit of volume, split the bangs down the middle and round brush the piece parallel to the ground and then gradually pull back to the side to sweep the bang off the face.”
Vanessa Hudgens often wears her curly hair in super long layers, but this lob is especially fresh on her. With shorter layers around her face, this cut highlights her doll-like features. Even if you don’t have her curl pattern, a shag lob will still work on you. “It works well on so many people, and it frames her face so nicely.” Porter says. “This works on many textures too.”
Have you ever seen a smoother blowout than on Joan Smalls? The model’s medium-length hair has shaggy layers that can take on a more glam vibe when curled under. “This style is great for Joan since it compliments her face shape while showing off the beautiful, natural dimension in her hair,” Porter says.
You might not be able to identify Scarlett Johansson’s shag haircut, but it’s there if you look closely. Her fine hair has movement, thanks to longer layers to provide that subtle shag hitting right above her collarbone.
On the flip side, a pixie cut can look like a trendy shag with the right amount of shorter layers. Michelle Williams’ side-swept bangs flow into her short layers seamlessly. Those with thin hair on the straighter side will find this cut especially flattering and easy to maintain. Plus, “people who have shorter face lengths (round, heart, oval) and want a cut that’s minimal styling will love a pixie cut,” Porter adds.
In between a long shag haircut and a pixie is the shaggy bob. Bob haircuts are always in style and with a few short layers towards the face, it becomes the quintessential “cool girl” shag for a night out or a daytime beachy look. Lucy Boynton nails it every time with her light waves. But if you don’t have that texture, don’t stress. “I personally love this bob length on anyone!” Porter says. “It’s a cute, chic, and effortless cut that’s super easy to style. This is particularly great for those who have very fine hair and want it to look fuller.”
Chloe Grace Moretz’s short shag has loads of layers around the crown, which makes this more of a classic shag. Her razored curtain bangs blend into her shoulder-length, choppy layers. If you have straight hair, this is a pretty low-maintenance hairstyle, but those with a lot of natural texture might have to put a little extra effort into nailing all those retro layers.
“A heavy curtain bang looks great on any hair type, as long as it’s tailored to your features,” Porter says. “It’s a customizable cut and it’s very rocker chic.”
Selena Gomez’s shag haircut is more flirty than edgy. Her layers are especially shorter in the front than in the back, the way a mullet is, for a pretty, face-framing look. The addition of heavy bangs draws all the attention to Gomez’s eyes. “Styling it by enhancing your natural texture is always a great option, this will give lots of movement to the cut,” Porter says.
Barbie Ferreira threw it back to the ’70s shag with a feathered Jane Fonda-style hairstyle. But with her blunt bangs, Ferreira’s cut feels more like a modern shag. The short waves give her feminine features a bit of an edge. “This is perfect for Barbie, since the bangs are perfectly cut to suit her facial features,” Porter says.
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