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
Below, we rounded up our favorite examples of the best shag cuts and styles.
Chloë Grace Moretz is nailing the rock-star nature of a shag. The soft bends, parted curtain bangs, and fluffy ends are the perfect recipe for this effortless (but actually you spent a lot of time making it look cool) style.
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.
Undercut Long Shag
If you're looking to make a bold statement, a shag haircut with a side shave definitely fits the bill. Make like Jennifer Hudson and ask your stylist for an undercut. As for the rest of your hair, give it a little love with a texture spray for mussy definition.
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.
Looking for a modern take on the shag cut (sans the traditional bangs)? Take a page out of Jasmine Tookes' book. She styles her medium-length 'do with slight bends and an ear tuck.
This version of the shag, pictured on singer, Ciara, is just the right amount of shaggy mixed with a lot of sophistication. Since bedhead will always be popular, this look will carry you through another year without looking dated.
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 ($10).
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.
Tapered Shag With Bangs
Country music legend Emmylou Harris offers up another glamorous shag that shows off her gray hair. It's a stunning look, and the long layers with full bangs are both classy and timeless.
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.
This curly shag is all about the volume. The key here, says Bennett, 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.
Logan Browning's long curly style isn't your typical shag, but the short layers cut into the style echo the choppy, slightly A-frame nature of a shag 'do.
A shag is a playful style by nature, and you can add even more whimsy with a bold color. Kilo Kish's chin length bubblegum-pink bob gets toughened up with some ragged edges.
Short Wolf Cut Shag
Billie Eilish nearly broke the internet when she debuted her new blonde “wolf cut” shag on Instagram. (In fact, that photo has over 23 million likes….and counting!) She has since cut her hair a bit for this shorter "wolf cut" shag. This cut is the perfect mix of the shag and the mullet. To get this look, ask your stylist for short layers on the top and long, choppy layers around the back and sides.
Shaggy Mullet or Shullet
Miley Cyrus is not afraid to take risks—both in fashion and with her hair. The singer tapped celebrity hairstylist Sally Hershberger to give her this on-trend cut called the Shaggy Mullet or Shullet. To get this cut, ask for shorter layers in the front and sides, with longer layers in the back.
After blow drying hair, use a finishing balm and apply to layers in the front and side for that "piecey" look.
Is a shag haircut better for straight hair or curly hair?
The answer is…both! As long as you aren’t at the extreme end of either spectrum (super curly or really thin hair), then a shag haircut will work for you. Make sure you go to a stylist that is accustomed to working with your particular hair texture to cut the shag cut that is right for you.
What’s a true shag haircut?
A classic or true shag has choppy layers, fringe bangs, a center part and lots of volume on top. See our photo above of Chloë Grace Moretz for an example of the true shag haircut.
Does a shag haircut have bangs?
A classic shag haircut has fringe bangs, however that haircut has evolved into several other shag styles. If you want a shag but aren’t a fan of bangs, opt for longer, choppy layers around the face. See our photo above of Julianne Hough with her Psuedo-Shag Bob.
What’s the difference between a shag and a lob haircut?
A classic lob is a haircut that is similar to a long bob, but is slightly longer in the front versus the back. It has fewer layers than a shag, and does not have bangs. A classic shag, on the other hand, has lots of choppy layers with fringe bangs.