The shag haircut is very rock 'n' roll—casual, mussy, and visually effortless. The typical features that make up a shag hairstyle include choppy ends, layers around the crown, and lots of texture.
The modern shag is choppy and has lots of texture but doesn't make you look like you're in an '80s hair metal band. It works on almost every hair texture and length. (Though beware too many layers or the style can appear a bit too choppy and dated.)
The key when it comes to this style, explains hairstylist Erin Powers, is the fringe. "A great shag has got to have the fringe right," says Powers. "If it’s off, then it’s not a shag." We spoke to Powers and hairstylist Kari Bennett of California's Atelier Salon for their tips.
Meet the Expert
• Erin Powers is a hairdresser with more than 16 years of experience. She is based in Tucson, Arizona.
• Kari Bennett is a master hair artist and the founder of Atelier Salon in San Jose, California.
Below, we rounded up our favorite examples of the best shag cuts and styles.
Fluffy Shag with Semi-Parted Fringe
Halle Berry has worn different versions of the shag over the years. Here, she wears a sultry, curly shag. "The key to really pulling off the full shag feel is the wave or curl," says Powers. "It needs to have body and soft texture. I love Hairstory’s Hair Balm ($36) for the perfect shaggy wave." Letting this style grow longer allows for the curls to perfectly frame her face.
Long Shag With Soft Waves
Longer-length hair can still have some great shaping. Actress Natasha Lyonne allows her dyed red locks to look both shaggy and elegant at the same time. This look is easy to get by way of letting hair air-dry and spraying in plenty of sea spray, like Herbivore Botanicals Coconut Sea Mist Texturizing Salt Spray ($20).
Though there are exceptions, shag cuts are at their best when they're not overly done. You know the look: blow-dried to perfection, with not a hair out of place. No matter the hair length, a mussy shag almost always looks better. Dancer and singer Julianne Hough's modern take is more of a grown-out shaggy bob.
If you have straight hair, ask for choppy ends when you get your hair cut. Scrunch it and let it air dry.
"[A shag] can be super short, which leans a little more on the shaggy mullet or longer and feathered side, which gives a softer finish," notes Powers. To get this look, ask your stylist to cut choppy layers from front to back. Here, a deep side part gives a bit more structure to an otherwise mussy cut.
The key to Georgia May Jagger's shag haircut is to not style it too much. Avoid products like gels, which make your hair stiff. Instead, opt for styling creams with a medium hold.
This is a lovely shag hairstyle on model Arizona Muse. It's the perfect example of wash, scrunch, and go. The shag looks best when air-dried or blown dry with a diffuser—just keep in mind that you should always scrunch from below.
Wavy Shag With Soft Fringe
Rihanna debuts a standout style and color combo we can't help but double tap. Keep the golden blonde color looking glossy not brassy by switching to a color-safe shampoo like the John Frieda Violet Crush Purple Shampoo ($8).
The shag hairstyle isn't just for women in their teens and 20s. Here, former French Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld models a gorgeous shag hairstyle that's messy and casual, with a little bit of rock-n-roll thrown in. The face-framing nature of the cut shows off her face shape, and highlights her bright smile.
Short Curly Shag With Bangs
Alanna Arrington's shag is giving us some major model off-duty vibes. For a polished finish, work in some of the SexyHair Wetfix & Chill All-Style Dry Creme ($23)—it'll help hair maintain that bedhead feel in the most natural way.
Medium Curly Shag With Bangs
Zendaya is a bit of a hair chameleon. One of our favorite looks of hers is this curly shag, with loads of volume and thick bangs that frame her face perfectly. Several lighter chestnut highlights draw attention to the shorter layers near the front. "I’ve seen some amazing curly hair shags that are very soft and wispy," says Bennett. The key here, she adds, is to "make sure you dry it thoroughly—to keep volume at the scalp—and use your styling product to show off the texture."
Wavy Shag With Piece-y Bangs
Kerry Washington offers another version of a wonderful medium-length shag hairstyle. This one is accented with soft waves, but it still has hints of that lived-in look, which makes it even sexier.