The Modern Shag Is THE Haircut Of Summer 2021
Is the modern shag haircut is the top hair trend of 2021? All signs point to yes.
If you’re anything like us, the idea of a shag haircut instantly conjures up visions of Meg Ryan circa her ’90s rom-com days. (What a time to be alive, truly.) But guess what? Like all things nineties beauty, the shag is back and is just as popular this season as it was during the glory days of grunge—it’s just been revamped for a more modern and chic look. See Billie Eilish’s new ‘do for reference.
“In the ‘80s and ‘90s the shag was cut with a lot of shorter layers throughout and had a shattered, choppy perimeter,” explains celebrity stylist Anthony Cristiano, owner of the eponymous salon in Chicago. “Today’s modern take has a denser perimeter and lots of softer layers. It has all of the same volume and texture of the past, but is much more versatile,” he says.
To that point, the modern shag haircut can work for pretty much all hair types, says hairstylist Emely Miranda. Wavy, thick, and even curly textures are especially ideal, since shaggy cuts add shape, but a few subtle tweaks in how its cut can make it a great option for almost anyone. (And you can play with the length, too, as it can be kept shorter or longer, she adds.)
The one exception to the rule? Cristiano says those with extremely fine or straight hair probably aren’t the best candidates for the modern shag haircut. “Because a shag by definition has a lot of layers, it can end up removing all the weight and density from finer hair,” he points out. And this will end up having the opposite of the intended effect, making your finished style look flatter, rather than fuller.
Asking Your Stylist for the Modern Shag Haircut
As mentioned, shaggy styles can be tweaked and adjusted for different textures, but the unifying factor is choppy ends and lots of layers, particularly at the crown of the head, says Miranda. “Today’s modern shag haircut also usually has some type of bangs or fringe,” she adds. But if that freaks you out, don’t worry—we’re not talking about full-on, blunt cut bangs that sit straight across your forehead. Rather, think of the fringe as softer, face-framing pieces that blend into the feathered layers on top.
Again, discuss with your stylist, as he or she can customize the length and type of bangs based on both your hair type and texture, and the end look you’re after. Speaking of, both stylists we spoke with underscore the importance of bringing some inspo photos of shag haircuts with you to your appointment. (Keep scrolling for some IG inspo.) “They can then customize the final cut based off those images as well as knowing what works best for your hair,” says Miranda.
How to Style Shaggy Haircuts
When it comes to styling, the modern shag haircut is an especially great option for summer because you can easily forgo any and all hot tools. It’s all about wash-and-wear, says Cristiano, as the end result should look visually effortless. You will want to incorporate a few key styling products, but whereas the shag of decades past relied on loads of stiff and rigid hairspray, the goal is to still keep the hair nice and soft and touchable.
If your hair is on the straighter side, work a lightweight mousse throughout your strands, focusing on massaging it into the roots for extra lift. Try Ouai Air Dry Foam ($28; sephora.com). If you want to enhance the texture even further once hair is air-dried, both Miranda and Cristiano say you can go back in with a curling iron to add a bit of bend at the ends. Finish with a blast of texture spray throughout.
If you have curly hair, apply a moisturizing curl-cream onto damp hair. Ouidad Advanced Climate Control Featherlight Styling Cream ($26; ulta.com) is a great pick for shaggy, curly cuts. You can then either air dry, or, if you are feeling motivated to bust out the blow-dryer, blow-dry on a low setting with a diffuser. At the end of the day, the more texture the better, says Cristiano, making this one of those rare styles that actually looks better the less you do to it.
And what more could you want from a summer haircut? Scroll on for some modern shag inspo shots to take your next hair apppointment.
Short Shag Haircuts
Long Shag Haircuts
Curly Shag Haircuts
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