The ‘subtle shag’ haircut is weightless, tousled, and intensely cool

Written by Morgan Fargo

Seen on TikTok, the subtle shag is the work of the leading hairdressing duo, The Hair Bros. 

Grungy, soft, and always stylish, it’s clear to see why the subtle shag has quietly risen to be one of last year’s most popular hairstyles – and it seems like it’ll be sticking around for 2023, too.

Characterised by numerous layers, piecey, feather-like ends, and a natural tousled appearance, the haircut has been seen on red carpets galore. Think of Alexa Chung – arguably the originator of the subtle shag cut – or of Squid Game actor HoYeon Jung, singer-songwriter Billie Eilish, and actor Zendaya for an immediate image, or of Miley Cyrus’s 70s-inspired cuts. 

The Hair Bros (hairdressers Nick Latham and Seán Paul Nother) have broken down exactly how to achieve the intensely cool cut on their TikTok. The secret? Using a razor, which sounds much scarier than it actually is.

In a video showcasing the transformative haircut, Latham explains: “I started off by cutting [model] Giuro’s hair with a razor at the front. A razor gives more of a pencil-like finish for a grungier feel.

“Blending in the side pieces of hair will look amazing when the hair’s up and she can pull those out,” he continues. “The key to a really great fringe, we believe, is going a little bit further back, adding in some different lengths. And just the finishing touches of some freehand cut pieces.”

The subtle shag, a take on the tousled messy looks that feels similar to the wolf, octopus and mixie haircuts we’ve seen become popular recently, can be as dramatic or soft as you like. Chat with your hairstylist about the length you’d feel comfortable with, the shape and depth of your fringe, and how to style it best at home. 

Remember, the haircut you have when you leave the salon is only half of the puzzle. The other half is knowing how you’ll wear it day-to-day and feeling confident trying different things – all areas your stylist will be able to help with.   

Subtle shag haircut inspiration 

  • Short subtle shag

  • Mid-length subtle shag

  • Long subtle shag

  • Layered subtle shag

  • Subtle shag with bangs

  • Wavy subtle shag

Main image: Getty

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