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 of 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.
Cropped Pixie Shag
Ginnifer Goodwin proves that pixie cuts can be shags, too. Keep the sides short and the top long and opt for a pomade or balm when styling. We love Ouai Matte Pomade ($26) to achieve a mussed-up look.
Short Pixie Shag
"[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.
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.
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, which 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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Wet Look Shag
We're loving Ashley Graham's wet look bob here. It has an asymmetrical approach, thanks to the parting of her hair.
Wavy Shag With Piecey 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.
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.
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.
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 ($13).
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 ($37) for the perfect shaggy wave." Letting this style grow longer allows for the curls to perfectly frame her face.
Shag With Curtain Bangs
J.Lo's swideswept shag is enviable to begin with. Add her heavy curtain bangs and off-centered part and we're racing to the mirror to copy this look. Don't forget a good volumizing spray like Ouai Volume Spray ($26) to help add even more oomph.
Shag With Baby Bangs
If you're not afraid of the maintenance, baby bangs complement a shag really well, as seen here on Emma Watson. Expect to pop into the salon every four to six weeks to keep the length short.
Alexa Chung is the poster child for the lob shag, so it's no surprise her effortless wavy lob look made the list.
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.
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 Odele Texturizing Sea Salt Spray ($12).
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.
Looking for a modern take on the shag cut (sans the traditional bangs)? Take a page out of Jasmine Tookes's book. She styles her medium-length 'do with slight bends and an ear tuck.
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.
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."
Voluminous Curly Shag
Tracee Ellis Ross's hair is va va voom, with her curls playing the starring role in this afro meets shag combo. Invest in a good moisturizer and finishing product to combat any frizz.
Soft Feathered Shag
Selena Gomez's subtle take on a feathered shag means soft layers and a bit of volume near the crown.
Tousled waves make for the perfect effortless beachy shag. Achieve this look with a wide-barreled curling iron and some texture spray.
Straight Shag With Bangs
Who says a shag has to be, well, shaggy? Heidi Klum's straight shag is polished and edgy thanks to a full fringe that just touches her eyes.
Center-parted Long Curly Shag
Iman's luscious locks cascade past her décolletage and stand out thanks to some shine spray. Try Moroccanoil's Glimmer Shine ($30) spray to mimic her coils.
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.
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.
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.