Arts, Crafts and Creations, Barbie

Refurbishing Barbie: Messy Hair Gets a Re-Do!

My sister and I are lucky that the Barbies we are refurbishing for donations to Christmas toy drives are in good condition. Most just needed a comb run through their hair. But what if you want to change Barbie’s hair style or you have a doll whose hair resembles a rat’s nest?

Lucky for the rest of us, others have been here before.

Moms know that little girls can be hard on their dolls. Pretty soon all of that beautiful hair can become a knotted mess. It never occurred to me that once the newness had been played out of a doll that it could be restored. But a search of the internet taught me some tricks and techniques that work remarkably well. It is possible to return Barbie’s hair to its original state and style, or at least give the doll a new hair style that will look fresh and new.

If you have a doll whose hair has been cut by a dangerous little girl wielding scissors, you will have no choice but to work with it and use your own scissors to straighten the cut or carefully give Barbie a better bob. But don’t start cutting just yet. Follow Barbie’s beauty routine first.

Barbie’s Beauty Routine

Give Barbie a bath if she needs one before you start on her hair. There are tips online that can show you how to remove different marks and stains.

Brush or comb out Barbies hair. Spray Barbie’s hair with a solution of liquid fabric softener mixed 50/50 with water. Start at the tip making small brushstrokes and working toward her scalp. Don’t force it. You don’t want to pull out her hair or give Barbie split ends! If needed, let her hair soak in the fabric softener solution for a bit. That should loosen remaining knots and allow you to comb them out. Some people use hair conditioner instead of fabric softener. They claim that it works well too.

Wash Barbie’s hair with shampoo or dish detergent. Rinse well. Repeat.  I had one Barbie whose hair felt sticky no matter how many times I washed it. I finally poured Goo Gone on her hair and washed it out using dish soap. No more sticky feeling!

Condition. Immediately after shampooing, I worked some of the fabric softener solution into Barbie’s hair and then rinsed.

You can now let Barbie’s hair dry straight or move on to create a new curly style.

I used pipe cleaners to create hair rollers for Barbie. Others use plastic straws or twist ties. I carefully rolled Barbie’s wet hair into curls and pinched the pipe cleaner ends to hold the curls in place. The more curls you make, the fuller and tighter the curls will be.Be careful not to roll too tightly near her face. You probably want the hair around her face to remain smooth.

Carefully dip Barbie’s rolled hair into a bowl of boiling hot water. Hold it for 10 seconds and only 10 seconds. You don’t want her head to melt!

Place Barbie in the freezer. I’m not sure how or why or even if this step is necessary. It’s what others did though, so I followed their lead. I removed Barbie from the freezer an hour later. Her wet hair was frozen hard.

Sit or stand Barbie in a way that her hair can dry naturally. It takes about 48 hours to completely dry.

When dry, remove the rollers.

Carefully comb out Barbie’s hair. Comb less for tighter curls. Comb more,  and you will remove the tight curls and make waves. This is the time to give Barbie a haircut if needed.

You might have to fuss a little if your dolls hair is damaged. My Barbie started out with hair that was somewhat frizzy. After combing out her dried curls, the frizz was still there. I ran her curls under a hot faucet – as hot as my faucet will get but not hot enough to remove the curls. I worked in a little fabric softener and gently combed it into the frizzy ends. Then I “scrunched” Barbies hair several times until the frizz was gone or at least no longer so noticable. I sat Barbie aside to once again air dry.

If you don’t like the new style you create, all it takes is another dip in boiling water to remove the curls and make Barbie’s hair straight again. Just dip and comb.

My Barbie’s hair was not in bad condition to start but it had kinks braided into it and was a little frizzy. Her hair treatment took out the kinks and the frizz. She is now ready to be dressed for her new home with a new little girl!


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