Do your kids’ dolls perpetually look like a hot mess because of their messy hair?
If you take a regular comb to a doll’s matted mess, the doll’s hair can pop right out of its head thereby ruining it.
Such a bummer to lose a beloved dolly!
I have good news: there is hope for saving tangled dollys!
Barbies, Baby Alive dolls, American Girl dolls, and other modern dolls have synthetic hair. Synthetic hair refers to the fibers that are spun into shape to resemble human hair. It is generally attached to the doll using a wig base to which the synthetic hair is woven, or the hair is rooted into the dolls head in small clusters and glued into place from the inside.
Here are 4 methods for detangling synthetic doll hair:
1. Fabric Softener
One method of detangling doll hair is to add 50% fabric softener and 50% boiling water together:
- Place it in a bowl large enough to cover the doll’s head.
- Dunk dolly’s head in the mixture until it’s all covered.
- Let it sit for 20 minutes.
- From there move the doll to a towel and take a new or clean human hair brush with wire bristles and brush the hair from bottom to the head.
‼️ Do not use your own brush without cleaning it because it will transfer the oils from your head to the dolls head. Do not brush from root to tip as the tangles will magnify.
The American Girl store recommends using only water to clean and detangle their dolls’ hair. In fact, they may not tend to dolls at the store’s salon if fabric softener has been applied.
They suggest slowly brushing water through the hair with a wire brush from bottom to root.
‼️ Do not get the water in the doll’s eyes or else they will rust. If the hair is curly, use a toothbrush rather than a brush to comb water through in the same fashion.
3. Dog Brush
Another method of detangling doll hair is to use a dog brush. Dog brushes are typically more abrasive than human hair brushes.
- Brush the hair out with the dog brush from tip to root.
- Apply hair conditioner. Comb that through.
- Then dunk the dolly’s hair in boiling water, rinse off the excess conditioner and air dry.
- Brush through with the dog brush again and the hair should be silky and smooth like new.
4. Clothing Steamer
For frizzy and kinky hair, another method (which uses less water overall) is to apply a clothing steamer to the hair.
‼️ Human curling irons, flat irons or blow dryers are all too hot for dolls hair and will ruin the hair by melting it.
A clothing steamer is made for synthetic materials so it should be just right to add enough heat and steam to get the kinks and frizz out gently.
How did it go?
Playing with dolls and doing their hair in different styles is one of my favorite activities to do with my daughter and I expect we will try each one of these methods with various dolls as the years go on.
Let us know if you have any other tried-and-true methods or if you try one of these techniques and have success (or horror stories) to share!
I’m Laura and I am a former lawyer, current Canadian stay-at-home mom of 2 lovely kids (a boy and a girl) and married to her high school sweetheart and best friend. I’m also a motherhood & lifestyle YouTuber who loves to share both the high and lows about her life.