The Insider’s Guide to Getting a Shag Haircut

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Written by Taylor Augustin

Updated: June 25, 2024

When we think of shag haircuts, our minds immediately go to the likes of celebrities such as Jane Fonda, Stevie Nicks, Billie Eilish, and Miley Cyrus. Over the decades we’ve seen the shag come and go, but in 2024, we are here to say that it’s back and better than ever.

If you love the look of the shag haircut and are considering getting one for yourself, we are here to help!

From knowing if you’re a candidate to maintenance, styling tips, and more, we spoke with Briana Cisneros, celebrity stylist, ARC™ Scissors Team Member, and Wella Professionals Brand Ambassador, and she answered all of our burning questions.


Meet The Expert

Briana Cisneros is a celebrity stylist, ARC™ Scissors Team Member, and Wella Professionals Brand Ambassador.

Continue below for our official guide to getting a shag haircut.

All About Shag Haircuts

Shag 1 450 x 560
image via @jordanaveryz

So, what exactly is a shag haircut?

“There are so many different versions of the shag haircut, but the thing they all have in common is a lot of layering around the face and through the crown area,” Cisneros tells us. Essentially, a shag is jam-packed with layers, especially shorter layers around the perimeter of the face.

How Do You Know If You Should Get a Shag Haircut?

Not sure if you’re a candidate for a shag haircut? The good thing about shags is that they look incredible with any face shape.

Whether you’re round, heart, oval, square, or something else, a shag will look fab! Additionally, a shag cut will work on most hair types, as long as you’re willing to spend a bit extra time styling.

How to Maintain a Shag Haircut

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image via @modernsalon

As we mentioned above, maintaining a shag haircut might require a bit more time to style on a day-to-day basis, so if you’re willing to do that, we say go for it!

As far as maintenance goes at the salon, Cisneros says, “When maintaining a shag haircut, you should go into the salon for a fresh cut as soon as you feel like your hair is just taking too much effort to style or is heavy in areas that are not the most flattering or ideal.”

Also, serious split ends are always a great reason to visit the salon. If you typically wear your bangs shorter then those will need a trim before the rest of your shag haircut does.”

Ideally, a fresh cut and bang trim every 6-8 weeks will work.

How to Style a Shag Haircut

Curly/Coily Hair

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image via @birchsalon

For curly or coily hair, styling is going to start out with wet hair. “First, after a fresh wash or co-wash when the hair is wet, apply a very generous amount of Sebastian Professionals’ Whipped Crème in sections from the root through to the ends,” shares Cisneros.

“Then, place the curls as you’re twisting and encouraging them to move forward and towards your face. You can even add clips at the root to make sure that while your hair is drying naturally or being diffused with a dryer, all the roots are going in the right direction.”

Straight Hair

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image via @un.rooted

Straight hair is going to require a bit more TLC when it comes to shag haircuts, especially if your hair is on the thinner side. For this reason, it’s important to add in texture and the right products.

“If your hair is very straight and you’re hoping to add some movement and lift to your shag, go in at the root with the Wella Professionals EIMI Sugar Lift spray before drying your hair forward,” Cisneros tells us.

“When adding waves and curls I love to let the hair dry naturally and let the haircut do most of the work, but if it needs extra encouragement to wave the right way or flick out here and there I love using my GHD Chronos Styler for that.”

Natural/Wavy Hair

For those with natural or wavy hair, you’re going to find you’re in luck “because the shag is so light and airy your waves should just bounce up beautifully,” according to Cisneros.

“I like to use the Wella Professionals EIMI Perfect Me lotion on the ends to give the hair some separation and a more lived-in look.”

Thick Hair

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image via @cutloosebk

If you have thick hair, trust us when we say you’re going to adore the shag.

“If your hair is very thick, I think a shag could be so liberating for you if your goal is to lighten up your hair and you don’t mind it feeling ultra texturized and thinned out,” says Cisneros.

“I love giving my clients with thick hair shag haircuts because I can sculpt away so much bulk and really tailor the look to meet their needs.”

3 Shag Haircuts to Try Out

#1. Mermaid Shag

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image via @brianacisneros

When we tell you we’re obsessed with this mermaid shag look, we mean it! “This shag is a great example on a wavy hair texture, where very little styling is needed and all of the root area is pushed forward towards her face,” Cisneros tells us.

#2. Curly Shag

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image via @brianacisnero

Another shag haircut we’re loving is this curly one. It’s full of body, volume, bounce, and is sure to turn heads when you walk into any room. If you have a loose curl pattern, you’ll find that this specific look will transform your appearance.

#3. Soft Shag

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image via @brianacisneros

If you’re more into the soft shag cut, we say go for something like this. “This shag is much more commercial with all the elements of a shag without the hair being thinned out or taken to a more drastic outcome,” shares Cisneros. “Very wearable and great for people with thin or fine hair.”

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