I’ve never been someone who’s put a ton of effort into styling their hair, but repeatedly scrolling past wafty bangs and voluminous shag haircuts in my feed motivated me to quit ignoring things and finally (!) get a fall haircut. I have naturally wavy hair with more defined curls underneath and straighter pieces at the front, so I’ve always felt my long hair required *some* sort of heat—curling iron or otherwise—to balance the texture.
A shag haircut, with its seemingly perfect, retro choppy waves, always felt intimidating because I thought there would be a ton of commitment involved in the upkeep. Turns out, it’s actually a low-maintenance hair style. “[The shag is] a heavily layered cut that’s worn messily,” says Corinna Hernandez, my longtime hairstylist and founder of Pony Salon in Oakland, California. “Bangs can be short to long, and layers can be short in the crown or just [have] more framing to accent your best features.” The shag isn’t necessarily a new hairstyle, but it’s seen a flurry of trendy takes this year alone. In the spring we saw the pretty shag; in the summer the wolf shag took over. Everyone from Zendaya to Alexa Chung has put their own stamp on this hair trend.
And that’s the beauty of it. “There are so many versions of [the shag]—there is always the right style version for you,” says Ryan Trygstad, hairstylist and co-founder of Mark Ryan Salon in New York City. “On one end of the spectrum is Miley Cyrus with her stronger, fashion-forward Joan Jett version. A softer version of the shag is the look worn by Freja Beha Erichsen, which showcases a beautiful fringe and cheekbone-skimming shorter pieces.”
Basically, I could create my own mash-up and tack on the voluminous, wafty curtain bangs if I wanted. “The wafty bang is a key element of the new shag,” says Trygstad. “It feels more fluffy and conjures up a Farrah [Faucet] vibe.”
I knew I was in good hands with Hernandez, who gave me my first razor-cut bob haircut years back. We settled on a laid-back shag that would be easy to style—no heated tools required. “The more subdued shag is going to be more client-friendly and work for almost anyone with any hair type,” says Hernandez. If you’re into it for yourself and not exactly sure of which version to ask for, it’s not worth getting tripped up on the naming convention of shag hairstyles; explain what you’re looking for once you’re in the stylist’s chair. Want choppy layers? Just ask. Rather a short shag? Buckle up.
A queen of the razor, Hernandez immediately started removing bulk and length, first in the back, then the sides, with a ton of focus around the bangs. The cut took less than 45 minutes, and we were onto styling and maintenance. Regardless of length hair, the benefit to getting a shaggy haircut is that it does the heavy lifting. Save for prepping the hair after a wash, there’s not a ton you need to do to get your piece-y shag looking its best.