Taming Wild Hair

Vintage dolls are likely to have very wild hair, if they've been played with. And Baby Face dolls have hair that can be difficult to manage. This page offers tips for taming that wild, tangled hair!

CLEAN HAIR FIRST. If the doll's hair is dirty, you can shampoo and condition it, much the way you would clean your own hair. Only use a little bit of shampoo or liquid soap; it doesn't require much. Too much soap can be hard to rinse out.

FABRIC SOFTENER or CONDITIONER. You will also need fabric softener or hair conditioner (any cheap hair conditioner will do.) I like to leave the conditioner in the hair while combing it, then rinse after the tangles are removed.

SPRAY-ON BLEACH CLEANER. You may need to use some bleach if the hair is very gray or very dirty. Blonde hair may look gray - and bleach is the only thing that will restore the original golden or platinum color. Spray-on bleach cleaner is my favorite for grayish dirty blonde hair. Rinse thoroughly if you've used bleach, because it can leave a residue.

But be careful, because some vintage colors do fade, such as carrot top. And the redheads are so rare that you don't want to lose that lovely carrot color. So only use bleach if you have to!

METAL PET COMB. I like to use a metal comb on doll hair; it slides through synthetic hair a little easier than a plastic comb. You can buy them at most grocery stores on the pet supplies rack.

START AT THE ENDS. When combing tangled hair, start at the ends and work your way up to the scalp, little by little. Using this simple trick you can comb out almost any tangled mess of hair! I've combed out Barbies with more than a foot of hair that was completely tangled in a ball, and it didn't even take very long. Be careful not to pull hair out from the roots if you can help it, because doll hair doesn't grow back.

I comb the doll's hair while it's still wet from their shampoo. It helps to leave the hair conditioner or fabric softener IN the hair while combing. Then rinse the conditioner out after you've removed the tangles.

KNEE HIGHS. When the hair is clean, combed, and styled, then put a knee high nylon over the head to keep the hair in place while it dries. I buy cheap knee-highs at the dollar store, and I cut each knee-high in three pieces so I can use them on more dolls.

CURLING IRON. For Baby Face dolls, I like to finish up with a hot curling iron on slightly damp hair. I just curl the ends, and I take thin layers for best results. I count out 15 or 20 seconds with the curling iron, for each curl.

I use a very small 3/8 inch curling iron; the rod is only 5 inches long so this appliance is very small. You can find them on ebay and they don't cost much but it's worth it for styling Baby Face dolls.

The curling iron by itself doesn't tame the hair, but it is very helpful for doing the finishing touches.

CAUTION with the curling iron!! Many dolls have hair that will MELT, so you absolutely MUST test a small area to find out if your doll has the kind of hair that can be curled with a hot iron.

STEAM IT. If the hair tends to "rise up" even when it's dry, then I steam it. Several people told me about steaming. Apparently the Blythe collectors have been doing it, and they learned it from the My Little Pony people.

Put a damp washcloth over the doll's head, and then steam the hair flat with an iron. Make sure the cloth is damp. Make sure you don't steam near the eyes where you might flatten the Baby Face eyelashes or melt them.

I use lots of "puffs" from the steam iron as I work. The steam trick does work for flattening stubborn hair, but the knee-high stocking will usually do the job also if you leave it on for a week.

STRAWS FOR ROLLERS. For tiny dolls such as the 8 inch Ginny by Vogue, you can curl her hair using straws for rollers and bobby pins to hold it. I cut the straws in 1 inch pieces.

PERM RODS for ROLLERS. For medium size dolls I use perm rods for rollers. Perm rods are cheap and they come in various sizes. The small ones are generally my favorite.

PROTEIN STYLING GEL I like to use hair gel when rolling a doll's hair, or to make stubborn hair stay in place. Read the labels: I look for hair gel that's made with protein. Protein gel seems to work especially well on doll's hair because it doesn't leave a shiny residue on the hair or vinyl. But actually, any cheap jar of gel will work.

Copyright (c) 2002, 2012 Cynthia Stevens All Rights Reserved