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The Shag Haircut Comeback

These Adorable Shag Haircuts Will Make You Want to Grab the Scissors!

When Harry met Sally back in 1989, women of the world met Sally’s shag haircut, a layered hairstyle that would go on to become one of the most copied in recent history. Fast-forward a few years: Model Freja Beha Erichsen came strutting down the runways with a brand-new version of the shag haircut that had editors . . . well, let’s just say those noises Meg Ryan made in her famous sandwich scene were not far off. “The new shag has a definite rock and roll feel,” says hairstylist Sam McKnight, who has tended to Erichsen’s shag.“It’s almost boyish . . . more messy than pretty, like the shag haircut of the ‘70s.” Think allover layers that look positively unkempt as opposed to perky—Mick Jagger, not Meg Ryan. The fervor over Erichsen’s hair has only increased as she’s grown it out, demonstrating the style’s ability to look good at every length.

The shag haircut

According to hairstylist Christiaan, who also cuts Erichsen’s layers, this is because it’s more “ragged out” than its ‘80s incarnation . . . in other words, it has an edgier, hacked-into effect. While the cut may indeed convey toughness, its tousled layers are also undeniably sexy. “Blunt plays well in the boardroom,” Model Solange Wilvert says Christiaan. “But this plays better in before she was the bedroom.” Which should come as no surprise—it is, after all, dubbed the “shag.”

Rough Treatment

A shag’s intentionally messy layers may make it the ultimate do-nothing haircut. Not only is it wash-and-go, it’s don’t-wash-and go: “I tell people to shampoo only every second or third day,” Christiaan says. “It allows the hair’s own oils to give it some natural texture.” If you need a little something more to achieve the right piecey finish, try a dollop of light hair cream (we like Pantene Pro-V Anti-Frizz Straightening Crème and Kiehl’s Stylist Series Creme with Silk Groom). Rub a pea—size dab between your fingertips and scrunch damp or dry hair lightly for the desired look of semi-dirtiness.

As a more-styled alternative, consider erratically straightening your hair: On air-dried hair, smooth random sections with a flat iron, leaving others untouched. (Don’t let the iron linger—a very quick pass over each section will suffice.) “Vary the sizes of the sections,” McKnight says. “On some pieces, do just the roots, and on others just the ends. The more haphazard-looking, the better.”

How to Get the Cut

Not only can a shag be straight, wavy, or curly, it can also be any length, from above the ears to below the shoulders—making it less of a specific shape and more of a mentality. “This is not a cookie-cutter, cut,” says McKnight, global style ambassador for Pantene. “So it’s even more important than usual to go to someone whose work you know and like.”

  • Ask Your Pro to Cut Like and Amateur ~~ Tell your stylist to make it look like you took a pair of scissors to your hair yourself. “That’s what Freja always asks for,” McKnight says.“You’re aiming for a grown-out kind of vibe.”
  • Seriously Consider Bangs ~~ Full-on fringe is not mandatory, but you’ll at least want to think about a few brow-length, bang-like pieces in front, which can be swept to the side. If you forgo them, make sure your shortest layers are longer than ear length. “Otherwise, shorter bits may get in your face and drive you crazy,” says McKnight.

Customizing the Cut

“The shag is really a bespoke cut,” Mcknight says. “It’s different on every individual.” Here, how to tailor the look to your hair type.

  • If you have fine Hair~~ A lot of choppy layers can make fine hair look thinned-out, which, paradoxically, creates an unfortunate fluffiness. As for length: Not everyone with fine hair needs to go short, but if you’re very wispy to begin with, ask your stylist to bring the ends up to at least shoulder length.
  • If You Have Thick Hair ~~ Coarse hair usually works with any length of shag haircut, but it may require additional thinning out to reduce the bulk. This can be achieved either by layenng or cutting with a razor (which should not be done more than once every four to six weeks, as it can split and damage the hair).
  • If You Have Curly Hair ~~ “Loose curls make a shag look, more free,” Christiaan says. (Those with tight spirals should skip this cut.) Opt for a bob length or a short boy version that has longer layers around the ears and the front. “If it’s too long all over, the curls will form a heavy block,” McKnight says.

Shag Layered Haircuts are Back From the Past

Medium Length Shag

Layered shag haircuts are one of the most commonly requested haircuts that I get. Everyone wants a layered haircut, whether they are long layers, short layers, or somewhere in between. What I’m suggesting a lot right now is an updated version of the layered shag. Remember the shag layered haircuts from the 70’s and 80’s? Well, they are back again in a big way!.

Shag Haircut
Taylor Momsen and Kristen Stewart, are just two celebrities to jump on the layered shag haircut bandwagon. Their layered haircuts are a bit more on the extreme versions of this layered hairstyle. I prefer something that you can wear every day, so here are some layered haircuts that are great for everyday wear:

Short Shag Haircut on Lisa Rinna

Short Layered Shag Haircuts

Meg Ryan, first made the short layered haircut famous and Lisa Rinna has now perfected it. Their layered shag haircuts are perfect examples of what I’m talking about. A layered shag hairstyle is great for someone who wants a lot of body, movement and texture in their short hair. If you want to steal this hairstyle, I would suggest asking your hairdresser for super short layers blended into the length of your hair.

This is such an easy haircut to style in the morning, you’ll be able to get out of the house in a flash! Blow dry all over, no need to use a brush and then add some texturizing product like Bed Head Manipulator, into the hair and style. I love these short layered shag haircuts since they are so easy to style and so stylish to wear!

Medium Layered Shag Haircut

Medium Layered Shag Haircut

Incorporating this shag hairstyle, are great for those in the process of growing out their hair. It will give you a fabulous new look while your hair is ‘in-between’ hairstyles. For a medium layered shag, you can get away with longer layers. Have your hairdresser cut in all over layers and then go back and do loads of texturizing throughout for that shaggy look.

Long Hair Styles

Long Layered Shag Haircut

I love, love, love this look! This is a great way to add a lot of volume and body to long, lifeless locks. If you love this long layered haircut too, ask your hairdresser for a lot of choppy layers throughout your long hair. You can style this by flipping hair in and out with a flat iron or large barrel curling iron and then spraying a dry wax spray throughout layered pieces. I like Paul Mitchell’s Dry Wax, because it doesn’t seem to leave too much of a build up on strands.

These long layered haircuts are so hot right now, I think I may just have to copy Ashlee Olsen’s hairstyle and claim it as my own. Remember that we are all about change and switching up your hairstyle this season, so why not try one of these shag-alicious styles.


How to Get the Shattered Shag Haircut

The Shattered Shag Haircut

  • The Cut ~~ Long, sliced-in layers make one of the sexiest shag hairstyles I’ve seen from the hands of Heidemarie Hisle of Phoenix, AZ, the cut truly emphasizes today’s on the edge styled woman. The longest pieces appear in front for the illusion of length; back and side layers are short enough for control. Jagged bangs bring the feeling full circle.
  • The Color ~~ Cool russet with a hint of copper comes from a custom formula you can only get in a hair care salon. By using natural brunette as the base and adding the top tones, you get natural depth and dimension.
  • How to Style It ~~ Work mousse throughout your hair and dry as you use a round brush to create the basic shape. When hair is damp, mist on spray gel or a finishing spray and continue to dry, emphasizing the piecey layers. To finish, take a touch of styling crème and finger-comb the front and surface strands.


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Long Live the Shag Hairstyle

Long Layerd Shag Hairstyle

The Layered Shag Hairstyle Should be Considered Amongst the Classics

The shag hairstyle has been one of the longest living hair trends, it is said to be created by barber Paul McGregor; it came to mainstream popularity when Joan Jett, Mick Jagger, and Jane Fonda all rocked this androgynous style in the 70’s. It appealed to many Americans at the time for it’s rebellious feel, the unisex style giving some the feeling of equality, while giving others an outward statement of their opposition to the social norm.

Joan Jett

The shag hairstyle has maintained it’s popularity throughout the decades by riding the style line between edgy and glamorous finding it’s way on the heads of many of Americans. Celebrity stylist Sally Hershberger has become known for her shaggy shapes, adorning the heads of Joan Jett, Meg Ryan and many others.

Layered Shag Hairstyle

The shag maintains it’s place in the hairstyle hall of fame for it’s versatility, it can be work for all hair textures and face shapes. Most recently it has been featured in hairstyle collections and on runways. It began it’s resurgence when Kristen Stewart chopped her locks for the hit film The Runaways. A shag is characterized by it’s short to long layering pattern, and although it seems like it may be a easy thing for your hair stylist to do you should make sure they are comfortable with it to give you just the right shag. If you get the right shag it can be a fun, easy look to achieve, and trims on the shag hairstyle should be about only be every 6-9 weeks.

Longer shapes can still be worn by all as long as the length is carefully selected. Oval face shapes can wear shags however they see fit, where as short or round shapes should avoid length past the collar bone.

The following looks are some great long shag options to print, show your hairdresser and wear yourself:

This look came from the Marc Jacobs Fall/Winter 2013 runway show,
While an extreme version, it can be worn both sleek and sophisticated or wild and free.

Layered Shag Hairstyle

To achieve this undone look;

  1. Apply salt spray (or light volumizer) from mid-lengths to ends and blast dry
  2. Turn head upside down and shake head while spraying a light hairspray, flip back over and shape into place

Layered Shag Hairstyle

For this longer curly style:

  1. Apply curl enhancing product into damp hair, smooth fringe by working back and forth with a flat brush, then diffusing remaining hair till dry.
  2. Use flat, or curling iron to shape curls in place and spay with light hold hairspray to finish.


For this voluminus shag:

  1. Apply volumizer at roots and styling cream from mid-lengths to ends.
  2. Rough dry hair by using hands to remove excess moisture till hair is 70% dry.
  3. Use medium to large round brush to shape and lift sections creating bends at the ends of the hair till completely dry.
  4. Utilize flat iron to finish shaping and bend ends towards face.
  5. Finish with light wax or paste to give separation to ends.

Layered Shag Hairstyle

For this shattered style:

  1. Apply thickening creme (or smoothing cream for those with plenty of hair)
  2. Rough dry hair to 80% dry
  3. Utilize paddle brush to dry and smooth hair
  4. Straighten ends with flat iron
  5. Blast the hair with light shine spray and cold air from your dryer for separation.

Long Layered Shag Hairstyle

For this more traditional long shag:

  1. Apply styling creme from mid-lengths to ends, and rough dry hair.
  2. Smooth ends with large round brush.
  3. Use texture powder on roots and mid-lengths to create separation and lift.

Which ever shag hairstyle you choose this season make sure you wear it with confidence, because nothing says beautiful like a woman who radiates confidence.

Kalvin Pugh
Contributing author Kalvin Pugh has been a licensed hairdresser since 2007. After advanced training at Toni&Guy in Dallas TX, Kalvin became an educator and shared his love of hairdressing with thousands of salon professionals around the US. In 2012 became an ambassador for TIGI. In 2013 Kalvin fulfilled his dream since beauty school opening up his own hairdressing space Kalvin Pugh Hairdressing in Overland Park, Kansas.

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