Everything You Need To Know About Cutting a Shag On Curly Hair

Shags are having a moment that we think is safe to say isn't going anywhere! Be sure you're able to offer the trendy style to all your clients—regardless of hair type! The low maintenance style is perfect for easy client upkeep and serves major personality and character when paired with curly tendrils.

Who is a curly shag best for?

We reached out to Arizona hairstylist Mariah Walraven (@mo_raven) for her tips and tricks on ensuring a flawless shag on any curly client. "This look is ideal for clients with medium to thick density and a naturally wavy to loose ringlet curl pattern," says Mariah. “I wouldn’t recommend it for straight, fine, or super curly hair."

Key elements to cut a curly shag

For curly hair, you need to be sure your tools are able to withstand moving through texture without damaging the hair. Mariah uses ARC™ Scissors PHANTOM II to cut a curly shag because:

  • The razor-sharp blades are versatile enough to cut hair wet or dry
  • Slide cutting becomes effortless with controlled weight removal 
  • "They work perfectly for both wet cutting and slide cutting to remove weight and texturize,” says Mariah. "Two things that are super important to achieve the detailed look that a shag gives!"

Mariah uses the ARC™ Scissors PHANTOM II for curly shags:


What is the maintenance like?

One of the reasons why shags have become so popular is the maintenance required for the look is minimal. “The grow out is very nice on this cut and I recommend cleanups every 3 or so months,” says Mariah.

Step-by-step tips for cutting a curly shag:

Check out this killer head sheet Mariah made to give you more of visual!

STEP 1: Section out a star at the crown of the head, making sure no hair is left out at the recession of the head. Clip the rest of the hair out of the way. 

Check out a demo of Mariah's sectioning:

STEP 2: Take a half inch section from the back of the star point and elevate to 90 degrees. To create the first layer, point cut to where the head rounds (between 4 and 6 inches). “I shoot for the layer to hit around ear length. Use this as a traveling guide taking horizontal sections towards the front of the head,” explains Mariah.

STEP 3: Section from the crown to the ear and clip away the rest of the hair.

STEP 4: Starting at the front hairline, take half-inch sections vertically and over direct to the opposite side of the head in front of the face. Slide cut from the cheek bone to the front length. Over direct each section and repeat to create a face frame! 

Pro Tip: If you're not comfortable using a razor but want major texture added, use an ARC Scissors Texturizer. Completely customizable to weight removal, there's an option for every curly client! 

Get 15% OFF any ARC Texturizers!

Use code ARC15 at checkout!


STEP 5: Razor slice, slide cut or texturize to blend the top layer into this face frame. Repeat on opposite side.

STEP 6: Section from temple to temple and back to where the forehead begins to level out with the crown of the head. Use your guide from the star point layers to razor slice and connect with the face frame.

STEP 7: Beginning in the back of the head, take a vertical section from crown to nape. Elevate to 45 degrees and using the crown layers as a guide, slice using your razor to connect into the length.

PRO TIP: Use this as a traveling guide all the way around the head to connect the length into the crown layers. Make sure not remove too much weight around the ears!

STEP 8: Following the same pattern used to create the layers and shape, go though with your texturizer to cut vertically through each section to remove weight.

PRO TIP: “This is a very visual process. Pay attention to how the curls are sitting, where you see weight lines and where the hair isn’t flowing," explains Mariah. "I then round brush straight to see where there is weight remaining and texturize by slicing with my ARC™ Scissors PHANTOM II shears to blend anything I may have missed wet."

Should I be pricing differently for trendy cuts?

“This is considered an advanced cut, so I charge $80 for the cut and style,” says Mariah. Always assess what you're charging when trendy cuts start filling up your books. For advanced cuts that take a lot of time and skill, consider upping your menu pricing if these client requests begin to fill your schedule. 

Ready for more PRO TIPS to cut a shag?! Check out our go-to guide: