There’s a certain thrill that comes from committing to a fresh hairstyle. Especially when it’s a little more bold and adventurous than what you would usually opt for. Some might have their eyes set on a full-on makeover consisting of a luscious perm or bombastic colour change, whilst the long-awaited chop might be all it takes for many others. It’s a scary first move to take, but most of us count on the ephemeral quality of a change in our crowning manes to brave the leap.
And considering the beauty enthusiasts we are, we’re always toying with the idea of the next trendy hair look. For the most part of 2022, the wolf cut—the crossbreed of a shag and a mullet—had made its way into our peripheral vision, courtesy of TikTok of course. A throng of celebrities had also been seen sporting the look long before it took off on the social platform; Miley Cyrus, Billie Eilish and Keke Palmer have all worn the layered, shaggy look in the past year, acing the edgy nonchalance that the hairstyle often imparts most with.
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But in 2023, we’re anticipating the louche, slightly messy shag to evolve—be it more layers, more shapes or more face-framing details. Here, we’ve turned our attention to a side of the globe that’s closer to home, as some of the female idols in K-pop have since adopted the hairstyle, whilst having given it a new lease of life. Whilst Girls Generation’s Taeyeon and Wendy from Red Velvet both see a shorter cut that’s rougher around the edges, IU’s longer version of the look gives her a softer, more feminine appeal.
But unlike our favourite Korean celebrities, we are not predisposed to a team of HMU artists at our beck and call. Looking to the aforementioned set as muse then, we’ve taken the liberty to ask the experts on how best to ace the look—from what to ask for at the salon to tips on how to maintain the layered shag for different face shapes.
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In order to achieve this layered shag, what should we request for at the salon?
Similar to the wolf cut, there are a number of “animal-inspired hairstyles” that are all the rage as of late—according to J Lim, the Salon Director of Chez Vous: Private Space. All of which, use layers and textures to create the shaggy look.
So whilst the wolf cut is usually left to hang above the shoulders, there are the “Octopus”, “Butterfly” and “Manta Ray” hair styles that can be opted for if you prefer to try the look whilst keeping your longer hair. The former is “characterised by long choppy layers” whilst the “Manta Ray” style uses “face-framing locks and layers all throughout one’s mane.”
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How should the layered cut be styled for varying face shapes or hair lengths?
The layered style is actually versatile enough to suit all face shapes but when it comes to deciding on the length, it really depends on exactly how short you’re willing to go.
Should IU’s longer, more relaxed version on the look be up your alley, perhaps opt for the “Octopus” hair cut or asking for the “Manta Ray” layers. The latter minimises the effort required for styling your hair in the morning; all it takes is some leave-in product to keep its soft, textured look.
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Any tips on maintaining the hairstyle?
Although the hair style often leaves its wearers with an unbothered air, these are actually not wash-and-wear hair cuts. In order to avoid leaving it as a messy flop after waking in the morning, a tad bit of heat and hairspray would definitely be necessary to glam it up à la Wendy or Taeyeon.
Lim’s tips include using a heat protective spray before blow drying your wet hair after coming out of the shower. After which, you can “use a curling iron or flat iron to create the desired shape” before applying hairspray as a finishing touch to keep it in place. This also helps to beat the local humidity, where it will most likely end up as a frizzy mess without.
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What products should we use to maintain these hairstyles over long hours?
If you’re planning on heading out for a full day affair, there are a myriad of hot tools, sprays and texturising products that will assist you in keeping your hair shape for the day.
For those opting for the shorter wolf shag, a sculpting product such as Wella Professionals EIMI Sculpt Force that will leave you with a “wet, acrylic shine”, according to Menuka Ghosh Rai, the Senior Manager of Education at Wella Professionals. For a medium length shag that sits directly on the shoulders, a combination of the flat iron and a touch of texturising spray (consider the Oribe Dry Texturising Spray) can be utilised in order to achieve a “smooth, flipped-out” look similar to that of Wendy’s. For those leaning towards the longer styles, your tresses will settle well with a simple dose of volumising spray such as Wella Professionals EIMI Body Crafter or Ouai Texturising Hair Spray to create textured waves.