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Can't-Miss Shag Haircuts, From Short to Long

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 shag works on almost every hair texture, and in every hair length. You do have to be careful with the shag, though, because it's a hairstyle that can appear dated with too many layers. Search online for "shag hairstyles" and you'll see tons of photos that look like they came straight out of 1999 (or literally did). Think Jennifer Aniston on the early Friends episodes, or a dude with a mullet.

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.

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The Modern Shag

Alexa Chung

 

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Alexa Chung is sometimes credited as the "inventor" of the modern shag hairstyle, and has worn many versions of it over the years. Her looks range from short to long to shoulder-length, to somewhere between the chin and shoulders. It can look both mod and classy, depending on how it's styled, and Chung is proof of that.

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The Shag With Bangs

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The secret to a truly great shag hairstyle fully lies in the cut. Ask for choppy ends and layering. Your stylist may need to create layers with a razor, which helps add movement to hair, and allows the stylist to remove some of the heaviness. As for bangs, they work great with the modern shag, too. Chung has sported some sexy bangs with the shag, including a pretty blunt cut. Long side-swept bangs paired with a shag hairstyle are lovely as well.

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The Mussy Look

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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, mussy shag almost always looks better. Dancer and singer Julianne Hough is a rockstar at the mussy shag. Here's how to mimic her style:

  • If you have straight hair, ask for choppy ends when you get your hair cut. Scrunch it and let it air dry.
  • For curly hair, ask for layers to be cut in so that the fullness isn't on the ends. You want to avoid A-frame hair, where the ends fluff out like a poodle skirt, a look that is accented with curls. Muss up your curls by allowing them to air dry and twist the curls into thick ringlets as they dry.
  • When it comes to wavy hair, you can skip the flat-iron and embrace your waves. With a great cut, your hair should dry naturally into an envious, gorgeous shape. Freshen your hair with gorgeous highlights, instead.
  • When styling, add texture with a texturizing spray like Sachajuan's Ocean Mist ($34).
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The Long Shag

Halle Berry

 

Vera Anderson /Getty Images

Halle Berry has done different versions of the shag over the years. Here, she wears a sexy, curly shag. Leaving longer allows for the tendrils to frame her face along with parted bangs. It still has that wild aspect that makes shags such fun.

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The Well-Kept Short Shag

Jane Fonda

Amanda Edwards/Getty Images

Jane Fonda is another person famous for her shag hairstyles. This is one of her shorter cuts, though she looks lovely with a well-kept longer shag as well.

To get this look, ask your stylist to cut choppy layers from front to back with shorter layers framing your face. This is a neater shag, so feel free to use a molding gel to style your hair.

06 of 23

The Modern Short Shag

Edie Campbell

 

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Model Edie Campbell wears a great hairstyle that is both shaggy and short. It's an interesting, severe look that works particularly well with her platinum blonde, and looks great on her long, slim face. 

07 of 23

The Sporty Shag

Frederick M. Brown for Getty

The key to actress Lisa Rinna's sporty shag haircut is to not style it too much, according to hairstylist Kerrie Urban in Allure. Urban suggests avoiding products like gels, which make your hair stiff. Instead, opt for styling creams with a medium hold.

08 of 23

The Lovely Medium Shag

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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.

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The Soft, Sheek Shag

Dimitrios Kambouris for Getty Images

Karlie Kloss's cut is great for women with some natural wave in their hair. It shows that you can get a sleek, sexy style out of a shag with the proper styling. For this look, the wave is accented by beautiful golden highlights.

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The Subdued Shag

Ciara

 

Michael Stewart/Getty Images

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.

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The Messy Shag

Kevin Winter // Getty Images

Actress Dianna Agron's shag is more messy than mussy, and it's absolutely fabulous. It's another perfect example of a modern shag hairstyle on straight hair and leaves a shorter cut in the back. You can definitely mimic this look after getting the cut. Scrunch in the texturizing spray, and let your hair air dry the rest of the way. The more natural, the better.

12 of 23

The Ombre Shag

Kate Mara


Mike Pont/Getty Images

 

If you feel like really changing up your hairstyle, mix the rocker shag with a funky ombré. Actress Kate Mara shows exactly how hot it looks, with her natural roots and super blonde ends. The highlights accent the choppy ends perfectly.

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The Shag Bob

Carlos Alvarez for Getty

Shag hairstyles are basically bobs—long bobs, long hairstyles, and even pixies—but with choppy ends and lots of layers. Actor Maria Valverde offers us a stunning example of a long bob that has been "shagified."

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The Fall-in-Love Shag

Jason Merritt for Getty

Allure asked Mark Townsend, Jennifer Lawrence's hairstylist and the man who created her layered shag hairstyle, for the story behind the cut. She was apparently inspired by Dianna Agron, and her choice to get the cut was "totally spontaneous." She fell in love with it and "couldn't stop running her fingers through her hair as I was cutting," he told the publication.

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The Bowl Cut Shag

Peyton Knight

 

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Not all shags have extremely noticeable layers. Model Peyton Knight is known for her signature bowl cut. It has just enough of a shag vibe to look amazing on and off the runway, without a ton of choppiness.

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The Mature Shag

Getty Images

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 mussy 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.

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The Gray Shag

Michael Loccisano

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.

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The Shaggy Mop

Steffy Argelich

 

 

Eduardo Parra/Getty Images 

Model Steffy Argelich is well-known for the gorgeous wavy hair that she wears in a shaggy mop. This length is easy to care for, and doesn't require much more than some air drying, and maybe a light product.

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The Curly Shag

Zendaya

 

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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.

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The Gorgeous Blonde Shag

Jason Merritt

Medium-length hair can have some great shaping. Actress Tori Spelling allows her bright blonde bob to look both shaggy and elegant at the same time. This look is easy to get by way of curling your hair around a large-barreled curling iron. It's a quick way to take your style directly to super sweet.

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The Soft Wave Shag

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Sweet and sexy, actor Marley Shelton offers another version of a wonderful medium-length shag hairstyle. This one is accented with soft waves, but it still has hints of that second-day look, which makes it even sexier.

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The Curly Long Shag

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Singer and reality star Ashlee Simpson changes her hair often. When it comes to showing off a super long shag, this look is one of our favorites. The ultra long layers, soft curls, and side-swept bangs work with the deep chocolate color she chose here.

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The Whimsical Shag

Kilo Kish

 

Donato Sardella/Getty Images 

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.

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