Throwback Haircuts Are In – And So Is The Shag
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Throwback Haircuts Are In – And So Is The Shag

Rock star layers continue to impress

It might sound rude (at least in the UK), but the shag is by no means an offensive haircut. The style, which burst onto the scene in the 1970s, has experienced a resurgence in recent years – and for good reason. Here’s how to ask for a shag (hairstyle) in the salon, and then style it at home.

More 2024 Hair Trends

What Is A Shag Haircut?

A shag haircut is defined by its textured, almost-messy appearance, with feathered layers that start short at the top (particularly at the crown and fringe) and lengthen at the bottom. It’s recently emerged on the salon scene, following in the footsteps of the mullet and wolf cut – but the shag is a style with its own history. Dating back to the 1970s, the haircut was a staple of the rock music movement and was worn by men and women alike, from Stevie Nicks and Farrah Fawcett to David Bowie and Mick Jagger.

These days, you’ll find a similar appreciation for the shag haircut amongst Gen Z, who praise the cut’s ability to add volume, texture and movement to hair while maintaining an edgy and lived-in aesthetic. It’s also gained a lot of popularity on TikTok, where the search term #shaghaircut has over 856 million views. It’s also been taken up by numerous celebrities today, says celebrity hair stylist and MAYFIVE Hair founder Katie Allan, ‘Taylor Swift, Alexa Chung and Zendaya are just a few celebs that have sported the shag in recent years.’

@thehairbros The Subtle Shag. A huge transformation and a hair cut that literalky requires no styling at all. #thehairbros #fy #fyp #shag #haircut #onlygiuro ♬ Paris – 斌杨Remix

How Does It Differ From A Wolf Cut?

The wolf cut, another incredibly popular hair trend that focuses on shaggy, layered tresses, can sometimes be confused with the shag – and there’s good reason why. The wolf cut is derived from the shag, so they can look quite similar, but they are different in essence. ‘The wolf cut is blunter and gives more definition to its outlines, while the shag has much more textured edges,’ explains Katie, who also tells us that the wolf cut can also take on more of a mullet shape overall.

Is It A Unisex Haircut?

As we’ve mentioned, the shag has been worn by both men and women throughout history – making it indeed a unisex haircut. ‘It’s definitely a unisex haircut,’ confirms Katie. ‘These days you see more women trying the haircut, but it’s also one for men (although typically, men would have it cut more to a mullet rather than long strands).’

Who Suits This Cut?

Since this is a haircut that revolves around a messy, lived-in look, there isn’t a lot of emphasis on whether it’s styled on straight, curly or textured hair. ‘A shag can be done on any hair type,’ highlights Katie. ‘You will find that it is accentuated more on straight and wavy hair, but it also looks great on curly hair and can be adapted for textured hair.’

How To Ask For A Shag Haircut In The Salon (& What To Expect)

It’s always worth preparing some reference photos for your stylist to look through prior to your appointment, so that the both of you are on the same page when it comes to executing the look on your hair. Your stylist should know what a shag haircut is, but the pictures will help isolate elements of the cut that you like and want to try yourself.

Once you’ve had a quick consultation with you stylist, then it’s time to get in the chair. Katie walks us through the process of creating the haircut in the salon: ‘The shag will be created by cutting the shape around the face first; typically a Bardot-style fringe with shape through the sides will be the starting point. They will then move on to the internal layers, leaving length and you will gradually feel weight being taken away throughout the haircut.’

@tobiasbellhair My client asked for the 70’s Rockstar cut ✂️ #fyp #shaghaircut #70s #stevienicks #shagcuthair #70shairstyle #70sfashion ♬ Whole Lotta Love (Remaster) – Led Zeppelin

How To Style A Shag Haircut

Thankfully, the shaggy texture of this cut means that styling is just a matter of ‘artfully messing up’ your hair. Coming from a hair wash day, Katie recommends you ‘dry the fringe and sides first’ before ‘starting to elevate the hair through the sides and crown to give height and add definition to the top.’

If you want a super voluminous look, you can apply a little bit of hair product for some extra oomph – like a salt spray or, if you have curly or textured hair, curl cream.

The Future Of The Shag Haircut

So, what’s next for the shag? Bigger (quite literally) and better things, according to Katie. ‘I can see this being accentuated to the max on longer hair, possibly even using extensions to add length and definition to the shape,’ she muses.

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Featured image: Rachel Coyne, Unsplash