What is the best shoulder-length hairstyle? This is the question that has been plaguing us. Shoulder-length cuts can look so cute, but there’s always anxiety surrounding them. No one wants a Lord Farquaad moment, no one wants to look like an overgrown version of their middle-school selves, and literally no one wants to return to the days of a bob-gone-wrong. So what is there to do?
The first thing you need to know about shoulder-length hairstyles is that no two styles should be treated the same. Different hair textures and thicknesses should absolutely impact what cut you choose to get. Some shoulder-length styles that feature a lot of volume should be avoided by our thinned-hair friends. Want long-layered bangs? Probably not the best move if you have the thickest hair known to man. There are a lot of cute styles, but many of them can easily go wrong. Luckily for you, we have the ultimate guide to shoulder- length hairstyles.
So if you’re looking to do the chop and opt for a shorter look for 2021, get ready to take some notes. Here are the best shoulder-length hairstyles of 2021.
This easy shoulder-length hairstyle will add a ton of volume to your hair
This is the shoulder-length style for our friends with medium-to-thick hair. If you’re wanting to chop off a sizable amount of your hair, but are looking for a shoulder-length style that is easy to maintain, then this style with natural volume is for you. Celebrities like Emma Stone have been rocking the natural shoulder-length hairstyle forever, and it’s easy to see why. The look is sweet, easy, and doesn’t require a ton of effort. So if you’re someone who knows that the morning is not your friend and are looking for a shoulder-length hairstyle that you can perfect with a quick flick of a brush and blowdryer, then this is for you.
Trey Gillen, a master hairstylist with more than 15 years of styling and coloring experience, told Byrdie that this “side-swoop” look is even more ideal for people whose face is square-shaped. His tip? Use a round brush and some sort of volume-enhancing product to get “a soft, natural, polished look.” Count us in.
Let your roots do the talking with this effortless shoulder-length hairstyle
There was a time that having your roots peeping out from underneath your dyed color was an absolute no, but these days, having shoulder-length hair with your natural roots showing is not only acceptable — it’s come to be desirable. We think the coronavirus pandemic probably played a part, since so many of us who relied on going to the salon regularly to get our haircut and color maintained had to accept that our roots were just going to have to grow, whether we liked it or not.
But, as noted by Marie Claire, the lack of salon access and the number of people who now have outgrown roots have actually created a shoulder-length hair trend that has been seen on the likes of Taylor Swift and Kiernan Shipka. Roots are now “desirable,” and hairstylists are even intentionally creating the look for their A-list clients. So you heard it here: Get a shoulder-length cut, and let your roots have their moment to shine.
Add some flirty bangs to your shoulder-length hair in 2021
In 2021, textured bangs are the element to add to your shoulder-length hair. There was a time when the word “bangs” would give us horrific flashbacks. For the 90s kids among us, bangs were a form of punishment that ran in a perfectly horizontal line across the face — no styling, no feathering, just straight-across bangs that made our faces look two times shorter. But 2021 is seeing bangs come back in a big way, and if you don’t want to believe us, then maybe an expert hairstylist will convince you.
Trey Gillen, a master hairstylist with more than 15 years of styling and coloring experience, told Byrdie that bangs with “shattered ends rather than blunt” are having their moment to shine. Unlike straight-across bangs that truncate the face, shattered bangs allow for parts of your forehead to still be seen. This creates more of a frame for the face rather than a cutoff look. Gillen then recommended to those opting for the look to use a wax (without a ton of shine) to separate the bangs to make them look pieced and placed. These are certainly not the bangs we grew up with.
Embrace layers and opt for this grown-out bang style for your shoulder-length haircut
A grown-out bang and layered look that frames the face is such a good shoulder-length hairstyle for 2021. Not only will this style look super cute, but it will grow out in a gorgeous way that will evade the ever-tragic growing-out period. Anyone trying to grow out their hair knows that the awkward stages between hairstyles can be really bad. If you once had a short bob haircut, but now want a longer shoulder-length look, the stage in between can make you look like Johnny Depp’s Willy Wonka.
As noted by Byrdie, celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence have opted for the “piecey fringe lob,” as it not only looks great, but it defines the jawline. And this next part will please the Gen Z kids among us — Trey Gillen, an expert hairstylist, said that only a center part can do this look justice (no side parts, sorry Millennials). To style such a cut, just use a smaller round brush and use whatever your go-to styling product is to get that fresh, dynamic look. You can’t go wrong with this one, and it’s great for those with thinner hair.
The shoulder-length shag is all the rage in 2021 when it comes to hot hairstyles
Some shoulder-length hairstyles come and go, but the shag is here to stay. The look is effortless, flattering, and 110% on trend. It can look like a more traditional shoulder-length style, or you can opt for the more mullet version. Either add bangs or keep it simple — it’s really the most versatile hairstyle for 2021.
Justine Marjan, a global stylist for TRESemmé, told InStyle that the shag got its footing again once curtain bangs made their way back onto the scene. Once they did, the shag cut just blew up. “Versions of the shag have come and gone throughout history, but … we’ll see more haircuts turn to shag territory as people get more comfortable with shorter layers around the face,” Marjan said. “This cut is amazingly low maintenance when done well, as it complements the head shape.”
This is a cut that you can get no matter your hair texture or thickness. No matter if your hair is curly, straight, thick, thin, or somewhere in between, an iteration of the shoulder- length shag will not disappoint.
This no-fuss shoulder-length hairstyle is totally low maintenance
We’ve talked a lot about shoulder-length hairstyles for 2021 that are easy to maintain and will work for just about any season of life — but this hairstyle reigns supreme. Seen on celebrities like Emma Roberts, this no-fuss shoulder-length cut with a sweet middle part is absolutely perfect for a number of reasons.
Firstly, it’ll work with just about any kind of hair thickness. Secondly, you can add your own twist to it — bangs, outgrown roots, etc. — and, thirdly, it is the perfect style if you’re working on growing out your hair. Roberts has been known to experiment with her shoulder-length hair, so like Elle, we’ll use her as a way to gauge just how much versatility the no-fuss shoulder-length style can have. She was spotted at the 91st Academy Awards with a rich, chocolatey brown shoulder-length look that featured a lot of gorgeous texture. But just as quickly, she switched things up and opted for a blonde, slightly longer look shortly after.
So, if you’re really looking for the shoulder-length hairstyle in 2021 that is mindless and stress free, this is the look for you.
Embrace your curls and opt for this fun shoulder-length look for your hair
Curls are gorgeous, so if your hair is naturally curly and you’re looking for a shoulder-length cut to change up your look in 2021, this is the style for you. Gone are the days when straight hair with absolutely no texture reigned supreme. As noted by Harper’s Bazaar, natural curls cut to grace the shoulders are seeing a cute upgrade with added bang detailing. This is your reminder that bangs aren’t for people with straight hair alone, as they can be rocked by anyone with just about any hair texture.
If you opt for bangs, the shorter locks around the face can be really flattering and beautiful. They’ll serve as a literal frame to your already gorgeous face and can really bring the attention to your eyes. If you’re a fan of TikTok (who isn’t, at this point) then you, most likely, will have already seen viral videos about how to diffuse and treat curly hair. While some of you may be able to get away with letting your curls dry naturally, make sure that you have a hair dryer with a diffuser attachment and a low heat option. You really can’t go wrong.
Leave it to JLo to usher in the sleekest shoulder-length hairstyle of 2021
JLo has had her finger on the pulse of trends and culture forever, so it’s no wonder that her shoulder-length hairstyle is making its way around trendy hair guides for 2021. As noted by Elle, JLo debuted her shoulder-length look at the Toronto Film Festival, and the photos have already been saved to our inspiration wall. Oh, to be Jennifer Lopez. Heck, we’d probably pass out if we were ever even in the same room as her.
Her shoulder-length bob look is incredibly sharp — the ends are bluntly cut, there isn’t a ton of feathering used to soften the harsh lines, and the length just graces her clavicle. To put it simply, JLo could’ve killed with the sharp ends of her shoulder-length haircut, and we love it. JLo’s look was created by none other than celebrity hairstylist Chris Appleton, so while you most likely won’t be going to a stylist who cuts the hair of A-listers, you absolutely can rock a similar look yourself. And who wouldn’t want this look? It’s got the perfect length, the middle part. It’s a yes from us.
Capture the 70s with this Farrah Fawcett-inspired shoulder-length hairstyle
The 70s are making a huge comeback, so it really comes as no shock that the Farrah Fawcett-inspired shoulder-length cut is back in 2021. The 1970s were truly an iconic era for hair. The looks were large, the bangs were feathered, and no one embodied the era better than Fawcett.
As noted by The Zoe Report, Fawcett-inspired hair started popping up on TikTok — it’s since taken the hairstyle trends for 2021 by storm. “Coming off of a decade where the bouffant was one of the most popular hairstyles, I think people loved the Farrah because of its ultra femininity and softness,” celebrity hairstylist Laura Polko said. “I think for the TikTok generation, nostalgia is really big. The Farrah style is so iconic and so easy to recreate at home. Voluminous hair is so fun and sexy, so it’s easy to love!”
This Fawcett look has been rocked by a ton of different celebrities and is absolutely the perfect shoulder-length look for 2021. Get your rollerblades, find a cute pair of corduroy pants, and you’ll be good to go.
If volume is more your style, this shoulder-length haircut with body is perfect for you
If you’re looking for a shoulder-length hairstyle for 2021 and you’re feeling nostalgic, this Old Hollywood look is for you. There’s something a bit daring about Old Hollywood glam. So many of us can’t help but look at the old pictures of Hollywood bombshells and then ask ourselves if we could pull off such a look. That element of timelessness is truly hard to beat, and this look is great if you have a lot of hair to work with.
The aspect of Old Hollywood glam that makes it so appealing is the volume of the hair, so the more you have to style, the better off you’re going to be. You might also want to bust out your hairpins, hairspray, and your wide-barreled hair curler, because, unlike other shoulder-length hair styles, this look does require a bit of maintenance. But, as noted by Elle, with this style, you could be in the company of celebrities like Emily Ratajkowski, who looked stunning at the 73rd Tony Awards, or Ana de Armas, who opted for a new look in 2021. This look is timeless, dramatic, and flattering. Who wouldn’t want this style?
If you have thicker hair, this shoulder-length hairstyle should be your go-to look
We love effortless waves and everyday textures, and if you have thicker hair that you just don’t know what to do with, this shoulder-length cut and color combo could be for you. As noted by Byrdie, it’s hard to take the plunge and opt for the shoulder-length hair style. For some of us, it’s a huge switch up from the long hair we’ve always had. So, if that’s the case for you, opt for a classic cut and a balayage color job — it’ll help with the long hair phantom pains. “With balayage color and trending brighter ends, chopping off a few inches into a lob is almost necessary from time to time,” expert hairstylist Trey Gillen said. “It removes all those tired, over-processed dry ends and allows you to hit the reset button on your hair.”
Gillen added that medium-to-thick hair textures will work wonders for this look. So you heard it here — if you’re looking for a shoulder-length hairstyle for 2021 that is approachable, pretty easy to stomach, but absolutely gorgeous, this is for you.
The best upcoming shoulder-length hairstyles embrace natural curls and hair color
2021 is all about shoulder-length looks that celebrate your hair. We’ve all spent so much time on expensive cuts, outrageous color jobs, and overpriced hair treatments just to conform to a trend, and 2021 is saying absolutely no more. As noted by Byrdie, the upcoming looks in shoulder-length hair include a lot of what many of us already have — natural texture. Instead of fighting against the original texture of our hair, we should embrace it. So, if you have insanely curly hair and want a shoulder-length style for it, give it some layers and a face-flattering shape and leave Mother Nature to take care of the rest.
Marie Claire noted that it’s time we start taking care of our hair, too — giving it the nourishment, the oils, and the hair masks it needs to recover from years of the straightening iron. 2021 will also see a move towards natural hair color. So, instead of dying your hair at home once a month or going to the salon for an insanely expensive color treatment, just rock the color you have. It’s daring in its simplicity, and it’ll be kind to your bank account, too.
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