Meg Ryan’s ‘90s Shag Is Only The Tip Of Her Iconic Hairstyle Iceberg

Time to dive in.

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Meg Ryan shaggy '90s haircut

In the ‘90s and even still today, rom-com queens simply don’t come bigger than Meg Ryan. Her breakout role in 1989 as Sally Albright in When Harry Met Sally paved the way for the entire decade, redefining the entire genre. Ryan then took on other major hit films like French Kiss, Sleepless in Seattle, You've Got Mail, and City Of Angels. On top of her notable acting that led her to countless awards and nominations, the Connecticut native’s legendary shag haircut deserves a trophy of its own. As a matter of fact, Meg Ryan's beauty evolution of iconic hairstyles started more trends in a handful of years than many do in a lifetime.

Ryan’s most famous shag first came to be for the film French Kiss in 1995, courtesy of celebrity hairstylist Sally Hershberger. “The movie called for a situation where she couldn’t do her hair, so we thought it would be best to give her a cool, messy short haircut,” Hershberger tells TZR. The hairstylist says the movie plot called for unwashed hair, further detailed in an essay Ryan wrote for InStyle. Her character in the film was stranded in Paris without any money or luggage, Ryan explained, so clearly, she didn't have any shampoo on her either. Hershberger had the task of making Ryan's hair look good and “bad” at the same time, which is how she decided on the shag. “The thing with actors is that they don’t wear wigs and you [have to] do their hair according to the movie that they’re taking on,” the hairstylist explains.

Hershberger believes this cut got attention because it wasn’t, in her words, “momsy.” She says back then, girls either had really short hair, or it was overly done. "This [shag haircut] was really disheveled and messy, and it looked like you didn’t do anything, which is why I think so many people liked that look," Hershberger explains. In fact, the hairstylist thinks the hairstyles that create the most buzz are the ones that are a little undone and a bit scruffy.

Below, find Meg Ryan’s complete beauty evolution from the late ‘80s until now. Don't be surprised if you find yourself calling up your hairstylist asking for one of Ryan's signature looks — they're still that good.

Cross Your Heart Premiere, 1987

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Ryan attended the premiere for Cross Your Heart in 1987. For the event, the actor arrived with curly locks and very minimal makeup under her circular frames.

When Harry Met Sally Premiere, 1989

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Though Ryan often sticks to short styles, she switched things up with long, straight hair for the premiere of When Harry Met Sally in 1989.

In When A Man Loves A Woman, 1994


Hershberger says she gave Ryan a choppy bob for the movie When A Man Loves A Woman in 1994, complete with a wispy set of bangs. “She really did [the style] before anyone else did,” the hairstylist notes.

In French Kiss, 1995

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Both her role and her shaggy hair for the film French Kiss in 1995 put Ryan on the map. The rom-com — and her close-cropped flippy cut — became instant modern classics.

Addicted To Love Premiere, 1997

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Hershberger says Ryan's hair for her role in Addicted To Love garnered a ton of attention and generated plenty of excitement in 1997. Choppier and a little bit edgy, “it was more like Edie Sedgwick vibes,” she explains.

In City of Angels, 1998

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For her role in City of Angels in 1998, Ryan sported cute, short curly ringlets. They were cut so that shorter layers fell charmingly into her eyes, blended all the way around her head.

Hanging Up, 2000


Ryan started the early 2000s off with a cool, textured bob for her role as Eve in Hanging Up. The key to the look is her short layers, styled for subtle lift through the ends — an aesthetic hallmark of the era.

On Location for In the Cut, 2002

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In 2002, while on set for the movie In The Cut, Ryan looks almost unrecognizable with her straight, caramel-brown hair and long, wispy bangs. It’s a significant departure from her usual buttery blonde curls and waves.

Against the Ropes Premiere, 2004

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While still sporting that warm, cozy caramel tone, Ryan added lots of layers to her hair for the premiere of Against the Ropes in 2004. The razor-cut bangs create even more movement through the front bits.

Crystal & Lucy Awards, 2008

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In 2008, the actor branched out from her classic short bob and arrived at the Crystal & Lucy Awards with long curly hair. Her signature blonde was restored, and a pair of long, off-center bangs added.

63rd Annual Cannes Film Festival, 2010

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At the 63rd annual Cannes Film Festival, Ryan went back to her signature curly bob. Her makeup was all about full, fluttery lashes and glossy lips, an unbeatable combination.

Out In New York City, 2013

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Photographed out and about on the streets of SoHo, Ryan’s tousled bob is effortless and chic as she runs errands behind a reflective pair of sunglasses.

Screening of Ithaca, 2016

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Hershberger says Ryan's hair is very thick and wavy, which is evident in this look for the screening of the film Ithaca in 2016.

AFI Life Achievement Award Gala, 2017

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At the AFI Life Achievement Award Gala in 2017, the actor took to the red carpet in curly hair that just touched her shoulders, as well as a subtle smoky eye.

Friar’s Club Event, 2018

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Ryan brought back her pin-straight strands for a Friar’s Club event in 2018. And while she typically rocks a light pink lip, the actor went a notch darker here — it totally pays off.

Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Governors Awards, 2019

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For her hair at the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences Governors Awards in 2019, Ryan played with layers and highlights. The brighter blonde tones around her face are especially illuminating, its glowy finish echoed in Ryan’s dewy skin.

Annual amfAR Gala, 2021

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With her grown-out curls falling just past her shoulders, Ryan’s hair enters that coveted mid-length territory that bridges the gap between short and long. It looks like she’s all about her natural texture here, too, with just a bit of enhancement from the curling iron.

Taping The Today Show, 2023

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These days, Ryan’s returned to her signature style wheelhouse. Her bright blonde is in tact, made a bit more modern by the low-key brown rooting toward her scalp, and her curls are as voluminous and bouncy as ever.

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