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Last updated: April 22, 2018

7 Tips To Rock The Shag

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Hair by Sally Hershberger.


If any haircut has its roots firmly planted in the fertile fashion soil of rock ‘n’ roll, it’s the shag. Think back to the ’70s, picture Mick and Keith, Rod Stewart, Bowie…and there it is. Later, consider, the boys and their hair bands—K.I.S.S., Alice Cooper, Ozzy Osbourne; their shags were as “regulation’ as their skin-tight pants and sky-high boots.


Then the ladies got into it, putting a fashionable spin on the layered look. Jane Fonda kicked it all off in “Klute;” the cut went on to be embraced by Pat Benatar, Joan Jett and even Mrs. Brady herself, Florence Henderson.


A modern take on Joan Jett’s rock ‘n’ roll shag. Hair by Paul Stafford.


Over time, the choppy, disheveled look evolved. Sally Hershberger put her spin on it for her client Meg Ryan, and layered haircuts exploded once again.


Today, there are modern shapes like the popular, textured lobs and long-layered haircuts that contain plenty of shag swagger. “Queen of Cool” model Freja Beha Erichsen spots an edgy yet feminine version. Stars like Taylor Swift and Julianne Hough have recently embraced short and shattered shag-inspired cuts.


No matter what decade they’re from, or how they’ve been refined, shags always have several commonalities. Layers for sure. Lots of them. Wisps that frame the face. A bit of disconnection. Massive movement. And most importantly—an unyielding, disruptive rebellious streak.


Ready to get your shag on? We’ve got seven crucial tips for achieving this look from the artists who have a special fondness for this rock ‘n’ roll chop.


Image courtesy of TIGI®.


1. Squares and Circles
To help visualize your shag cut,” advises Sally Hershberger, celebrity stylist and owner of Sally Hershberger Salons, “imagine fitting a ball into a big square box so that the top of the ball is visible above the top of the box. What that means is you’re building in square layers and rounding off the top with round layers to follow the head shape.”


2. Cut + Color
“It’s never just about the cut,” says three-time North Ireland Hairdresser of the Year Paul Stafford. “Amazing color work can completely change the effect of the shag by adding dimension.”


Left: Hair by Dani Blakeley
Right: Hair by Paul Stafford


3. Disconnection Direction
“Over-layering is important, but I switch to disconnection in the crown,” says co-owner of L.A.’s Ramirez | Tran Salon, Anh Co Tran, pioneer of the lived-in haircut. “It’s more modern when an undercut is involved.”


4. What Lies Beneath
“It’s under-layering that gives the shag a modern edge,” says Paul. “It’s an amazing, invisible technique for creating disconnection within a shape.”


5. Modern Shape
“For a modern twist,” suggests Paul, “create a square bob with a heavy fringe, then layer heavily, short to long, in the interior.”


Hair by Johanna Cree Brown at Trevor Sorbie.


6. Finish Strong
Shag haircuts absolutely need the right styling and finishing products to produce separation and definition in the layers, believes TIGI® International Creative Director Thomas Osborn. Depending on the hair type, choose a spray wax, mousse, texturizing spray or styling cream to achieve the desired result.


7. Curl Conscientiously
For the most realistic-looking finish on curly hair, suggests Sabrina Michals of Bumble and bumble, make sure the curls aren’t uniform. Shape them with a large iron and alternate the curl direction—backward and forward. “Inconsistency creates a natural, fluid look,’ she notes.


Left: Image courtesy of Bumble and bumble.
Right: Hair by Anh Co Tran


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Sally Hershberger