For those who like their hair looks effortless and low-maintenance, enter the shag cut...
As people are better embracing their natural hair – for all its texture or lack thereof – the 70s shag haircut has seen a revival at just the right moment. It’s a trend that started in 2019 and is set to grow in 2020.
A sign of the times, the shag cut is messy (in a high fashion way), voluminous, multi-layered and undone. Again, high fashion. It’s imperfect, and it works for just about anyone, no matter the length, fullness or texture.
It’s seen some updating, though, and isn’t quite the ode to rock ‘n’ roll it once was – breathe a sigh of relief. Instead it’s softened, yet somehow maintains a subtle edge. The cut’s modern take sees full fringes turn to gentle side sweeps, or layers that frame the face; a blessing for commitment-phobes.
So, what do you need to make it work? (Other than one of the best hair dryers, obv.) We spoke to a couple of the hair industry’s biggest names to get the lowdown.
Shag hairstyles: what to ask for at the salon
Internationally renowned celebrity hairstylist Paul Edmonds suggests you do your research first – ‘go armed with pictures’ when you see your hairdresser, and get their advice too.
‘Hair thickness and waves will help determine the length of the layers, and it can be adapted to suit your face shape’, Paul explains. Having that conversation first will make sure that you get a shag cut best suited to your natural hair type and features.
In terms of variation, Paul says that ‘the ends can be cut blunt, or textured and cut through’. Blunt ends will give hair a fuller, heavier look, which can work well for thinner hair. Once decided, ask for it to be roughly blow-dried and kept shaggy for a true finish on the cut.
Maintaining the cut is easy, according to Paul. ‘Conditioning needs to be a first priority and a high gloss finish is a must. Shu Uemura Essence Absolue Multi-Purpose All-In-Oil, £33, adds body while protecting and adding gloss’.
How to wear the shag haircut
‘Less is definitely more when it comes to the shag,’ he says. ‘Keep it simple; wash and towel dry the hair and apply a primer product. I love a mousse.
‘Then use your hair dryer – my favourite is the ghd Helios [£159 at Fabled] as it does all of the work for you. Keep the dryer on a medium setting, and taking handfuls of hair gently scrunch together with the dryer aimed directly into the hair until dry – that’s it if you want an authentic shag’.
‘If you want to add detail, pass the ghd Platinum+ Styler, £189 at Fabled, through the ends of random sections of hair and gently press to add definition. Mist with a spray and then you are done’, explains Adam. To enhance the body and hold of the hair, try Bardot Lift + Volume Spray – a product created with Bridget Bardot in mind, an iconic wearer of the shag before it’s official inception.
Another tip from Paul is to ‘turn your head upside down to get root lift’ while blow-drying. Once finished, dust Maria Nila Style & Finish Power Powder, £19.99 at Sally Beauty, into the roots for more height.
The style ranges from sleek choppy waves to edgy tousled curls that sit so they just narrowly miss the eyes. How far you take the shag cut is up to you.
Need some inspiration? Keep scrolling for some celebrities that have nailed shag hairstyles…
Words by Tanyel Mustafa
Queen of all things messy – and unashamedly so – Claudia Winkleman’s heavy long fringe and blunt ends show a more classic take on the shag cut. The ends of her fringe land on the face, which Paul Edmonds says ‘is a great way to emphasise the eyes and lips’.
Ever-so cool and grungy, Alexa Chung’s short curled layers frame her face while adding texture to her otherwise sleek hair.
Big and loaded with texture, Jennifer Lawrence’s hair has cut through ends, making them look shaggier, while shorter pieces are given heaps of volume and lift. The result is stylishly messy, and we love it.
Never one to shy away from trying a new look, Zendaya has styled her hair in just about every trend imaginable, and it always looks chic. Who says fringes aren’t for curly hair?
Halle Berry is often pictured with shaggy layers and a fringe, but this is how to make the cut work in an up-do. Let short layers at the crown tumble down and curtain any fringing. This frames the face and softens any harshness in having hair tied back – wispy fringes become elegant.
Famously sporting a shag since the 90s, Meg Ryan knows how to rock a layered look. Heavy layering with the ends flicked out makes Meg’s hair look thicker.
Taylor Swift’s fresh approach to the shag cut is lighter and has more lift due to her swept side fringe and bob length. Where hair is finer, waves help to add volume and create a layered effect.