Hoping for a versatile haircut that’s both gorgeous and easy to style? It’s time to consider a shag. “In my 26-year career as a hairdresser, I have seen the ‘shag’ haircut trend under several names—it is nothing more than a very layered cut, always leaving the bangs at eye level or the tip of the nose,” says master hairstylist Lazaro Lambertucci. “This type of cut brings practicality to everyday life when styling, in addition to the fact that the cut lasts longer.”
The beauty of the shag is that it can work with all hair textures and types, as well as lengths. Today, though, we’re going to focus specifically on medium shag haircut ideas. “When asking your stylist for a medium-length shag haircut, you should request an angled and layered haircut and show some inspiration images to help,” Lambertucci reveals. That’s where we come in.
Meet Our Expert
Sally Hershberger is a bi-costal celebrity hairstylist.
Ahead, find twenty medium shag haircut ideas just in time for your autumn hair transformation.
Wavy Medium Shag
Jennifer Aniston may be best known for her Rachel haircut from Friends, but before the iconic Rachel, she rocked a wavy medium shag on the show. “To achieve this natural curly look, the hair needs [definition],” Lambertucci says. His suggestion? Use mousse to combat frizz and create effortless curls. “Just apply it to damp, towel-dried hair after showering and comb it with a wide-tooth comb, then scrunch,” he instructs.
Shags work on curls and coils across the texture spectrum, too. “For curlier hair, I always work with the curl pattern to make sure the layers fall correctly, says celebrity hairstylist Sally Hershberger. “I love adding shorter bangs to really make the curls pop.”
Beach Wave Shag
Hailey Bieber’s beach blonde hair looks effortlessly chic in a medium shag cut. “To achieve this look, it’s important to use products that enhance thickness,” Lambertucci says. “Products from the Milbon Scalp Collection can help clarify the scalp and make the hair appear fuller. Once dried, use a curling iron to leave the waves defined, and then use flexible hair spray. After two minutes, comb the hair to leave the strands separated and voluminous.”
Medium Shag Blowout
Billie Eilish rocked a quintessential hag cut for the promotion of her studio album, Happier Than Ever. To get the look, Lambertucci says to use a heat spray, such as the Kérastase Genesis Défense Thermique Blow-Dry Primer ($45), on freshly washed hair. Then, apply a volumizing mousse before blowing it out. If you’re worried about frizz, smoothing hair with a boar bristle brush, such as the Emi Jay Mini Boar Bristle Brush ($42), can work wonders.
Shag With Grown Out Roots
Rihanna is another great example of a curly shag, not to mention a wolfier silhouette. The voluminous, top heavy style looks effortless, especially with the grown-out root.
Debbie Harry may be equally as renowned for her vocals as she is her iconic shag haircut. “For this look, I suggest washing your hair only with shampoo, as using conditioner will leave hair too silky, to create this volume,” Lumbertucci says. With that in mind, he recommends using the Kérastase Chronologiste Shampoo ($45) to nourish hair pre-blow dry. Then, use a large round brush to blow out your hair, followed by a misting of the Schwarzkopf Osis Session Extreme Hold Hairspray ($20) to lock in the lift.
If you struggle with volume, consider adding a body-boosting mousse or treatment.
Medium Shag With Wispy Bangs
Halle Berry makes a perfect case for a medium shag with wispy bangs. “For this finish, which I love, the hair should be washed and conditioned with Oribe Brilliance & Shine Shampoo ($49) and Conditioner ($52)—this will leave your hair beautiful, shiny, and loose,” Lambertucci says. “To create this look, blow dry hair with a wide, flat brush. Touch up lightly with a curling iron as needed.”
The wolf cut is a mix between a mullet and a shag. That said, if you're looking to rock a bolder tress silhouette, you might want to take a page out of Natasha Lyonne's book.
Blunt Bangs Shag
Taylor Swift is an icon—for her vocals, her style, and, of course, her hair. At the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards, she debuted a tousled medium shag with a blunt bang that’s undoubtedly been recreated by many, many fans. “Fine hair, like Taylor Swift’s, requires washing every day,” Lambertucci says, noting that this can take a toll on volume. “To maintain volume from the roots, I recommend the Big Sexy Hair Powder Play Volumizing & Texturizing Powder ($20). Then, curl with a curling iron and finish with L’Oréal’s Infinium Hair Spray ($30).”
Side Part Shag
Alexa Chung is practically synonymous with her sleek lob haircut but has been known to switch it up every now and again. “I love giving clients with straight, finer hair a shag since it gives so much volume,” Hershberger says. “By keeping the layers a bit longer, it gives the cut a ‘70s, boho chic vibe.”
Shag With Side-Swept Bangs
Kathryn Morris was an early adopter of the side-swept shag, helping to popularize the look back in the early '00s. The trick to recreating her look is to achieve long-lasting volume and body. Using the Dyson Airwrap Multistyler ($600) with the Round Volumizing Brush can help perfect the look. Meanwhile, for a high-shine, frizz-free finish, prep your hair with the Color Wow Dream Coat Supernatural Spray Anti-Frizz Treatment ($28) prior to drying.
Tousled, Textured Shag
“Since shags are so versatile, they can be worn in many ways, such as with a side part, longer layers, or curtain bangs,” Hershberger says. “It all depends on the style you’re going for.” Here, Kerry Washington is rocking a shag cut with a deep side part for a tousled, textured take on the trend.
Color has the ability to totally transform a shag. Where brunette colors give a shag a modest everyday look, a bright blonde shade or blonde ombré, like Chloë Grace Moretz’s hair above, offers a more rocker chic appeal.
Fine Hair Shag
Shag haircuts don’t have to be super edgy. Here, Ellen Pompeo (our beloved Meredith Grey) dons a subtle shag with sun-kissed balayage highlights. All in all, the color and cut work together to make her fine hair look full.
Jasmine Tookes's shag looks extra full thanks to some expert styling. Hershberger's trick for getting this level of texture and lift is to reach for dry shampoo—not a texturizing spray. “To add extra texture and volume, I always use Sally Hershberger 24K Supreme Stylist Voluminous Dry Shampoo ($32),” she reveals.
Shag With Highlights
If you like the idea of a shag haircut but don’t actually want to cut a bunch of layers into your hair, you can use styling to your advantage for a similar look. Here, Chrissy Metz shows off gently waved tresses that take on shag-like movement and texture.
Tight spirals work beautifully with shag cuts. Case in point: Gabrielle Union's side-parted shag with spiraled bangs. To pump up the shine, try using the Living Proof Curl Moisturizing Shine Oil ($34)—over 7,000 Sephora shoppers swear by it.
Curtain Bangs Shag
If you're worried that a highly-layered haircut will be difficult to style, think again. Here, Hilary Duff proves that you can easily pull back face-framing layers while letting curtain bangs stand out.
How stunning is Priyanka Chopra Jonas's subtle shag cut? With long layers, it's a less choppy rendition of the shag trend.
Last but not least, we have Mariska Hargitay (or as we know and love her: Olivia Benson). Hargitay's shag has transformed over the years but it always maintains a series of layers and face-framing snips to accentuate her strong jawline.
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