Sunday, November 9, 2014

How To Fix Frizzy Doll Hair - Perfect for Ponies!

I picked up this Pinkie Pie from the thrift shop for $.99 - and over John's protests:

 

"Where are you going to put that?"
"Your room, if you ask nicely."

(This from the guy with the Fluttershy shrine in his man cave. I mean, REALLY.)


Despite being covered in stickers & having a matted frizzball for hair, Pinkie was in perfect shape. Besides, I remembered seeing some tips on Pinterest for de-frizzing doll hair, and I wanted to give it a shot.

About five hours later... BEHOLD:



I used a different method on the tail versus the mane, and you can see the tail is a little more messy and natural looking, while the mane has those perfect Shirley Temple ringlets. I like the mane best, but really, both ways work!

So for the tail, I rolled sections of hair over a section of a drinking straw, bent the straw in half, and secured the two ends with a small rubber band:



Next I dunked the hair in almost-boiling water for a good minute or so:

 

 I let the hair cool, squeezed off the excess water, and had this:


Not bad!

For comparison, this is what I started with:



I tried the same method for the mane, but I made my sections of hair way too big, so the resulting curls were... less than impressive:

 Meh.

So next I tried wrapping much smaller sections of hair around a thin wooden dowel and flat-ironing, like so:

Bingo! Worked like a charm.

Of course you have to watch your heat level, since the hair IS plastic, but I had to crank my adjustable heat iron up halfway before the curl would hold, and even then I had to hold it on the hair for several long seconds. (Don't worry; there were no fumes or funny smells.)

Really the only hard part was separating out the hair to begin with, since the doll hair was incredibly rough and snaggy, and individual strands tend to stretch out instead of break. It gave me something to do while John and I watched TV, though, so I didn't mind. Oh, and I used a small comb, but mostly just the very tip of it to separate the worst of the tangles.


(There's a doll hair detangling spray you can make by mixing a little liquid fabric softener in water, but I didn't have any softener on hand. It looks really helpful, though, so next time!)

Since it's hard to iron the very ends of the ringlets without burning yourself, you can trim off any frizzy tips when you're done. I didn't bother, so you can see the bottom of my curls are a little rough. Adds character, though, right?

You can also just flat iron the hair straight if you don't want curls, but I'd recommend still working in small sections to keep it smooth.

And that's it! So, now to find a matching Fluttershy...


Any questions or tips? Share 'em in the comments!

*****

Come see ALL of my craft projects on one page, right here!

59 comments:

  1. Wow, this is awesome! I've got a couple of dolls with frizzy hair, and now I must try this. I can't believe the difference, the ringlets are so cute! Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow, I'm really impressed with the results! I wouldn't have thought that there was anything that could be done to doll hair that reached THAT state. Now to go rummaging through the box of my childhood toys - I'm sure there are quite some treasures to be updated. (I recalled having had some old "rainbow ponies", the predecessors of today's "my little ponies", but I think they all had pretty tangled manes when I was done with them.)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I've used the fabric softener detangler on several of my daughters dolls & it works great but this is a good tip for putting the curl back in.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This post is awesome! My sister and I have so many old toys that have that same sad hair and I'm definitely going to try this on them! I can't believe how good Pinky Pie looks at the end!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Back in the 80's when I had Barbies and My Little Ponies, I always brushed their hair with the little brushes that came with them. It was definitely my thing (plus we would use straight pins to put Barbie's hair up, just push those pins right through her head). And that's why I was also so devastated to see the state of Stephanie's Barbies and Ponies during recess at school. All matted and tangled and dirty and gross. *so sad*
    But after reading this, I can pretend that she would go home and her mom would fix it... 30-year-old memories soothed... thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's certainly better than imagining Stephanie being the female version of Sid from Toy Story.

      That's impressive, Jen!

      Delete
  6. I have had fairly good luck with them by "washing" them with an inexpensive conditioner (I'm talking $0.88 Suave) and then squeezing out the water. Then I styled them by wrapping around something thin, similar to the straws, or wrapping hair around the neck to give a nice wave/curl around the face like those 1980 ponies had. Let it dry overnight and looks like a new pony! :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'll have to give this a try.

    Although I've occasionally caught my daughter using her own spray hair detangler on her dolls, and it seems to do the trick. But now I really want to try curling the hair!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Trust me, doing the fabric softener or even watered down hair detangler makes a world of difference. I have done it for many dolls and ponies. I love all the tips for getting the curl back in. My oldest has an American Girl doll and the curl has died. I don't think I will do the flat iron but maybe curlers in damp hair overnight would do the trick.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've seen tutorials on YouTube for fixing AG doll hair. They recommend (almost) boiling water, though of course you have to be careful not to get it in the eyes. I think they put the doll so her hair is in the sink and then pour the boiling water over it. Or dunk the hair in a pot of water.

      Delete
  9. This is pretty neat. Had no idea that plastic doll hair could be de-frizzed. Wish I'd known these tricks when I was a girl so I could have used them on my Barbies and Strawberry Shortcake dolls. Remember when there were no "kid" Barbies and you had to use Strawberry Shortcake dolls as Barbie kids? Yeah, I'm that old.

    You did an awesome job on Pinkie Pie's mane and tail, Jen. I hope John was adequately impressed by your pony-styling skills.

    KW

    ReplyDelete
  10. When I was little I found a bunch of my barbies and dolls hairs had become pretty matted after umpteen years of playing with them. I used baby shampoo and the "no more tangles" conditioner spray on them and they relaxed a lot. I don't think I managed to make any impressive hair styles though. I'll have to remember this when my son's toys become too matted.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Looks great! Thanks for sharing. Wish I had known too, I could have saved so many of my little sister's MLPs. She had 30 or so when she was a kid (we're talking 25+ yrs ago) and played them to frizzies and beyond. lol

    ReplyDelete
  12. If people are leery of using the hot iron (or don't have one) and still want the more polished curl, setting the synthetic hair into curlers and just putting the doll/toy/hair into a hot environment for a few days (I put a synthetic wig in curlers in the attic for a few days, but I suppose a hot car trunk would work just as well). The curls will set up as precisely as the hair was wrapped into the curlers. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Another option is doing the boil perm method that was done on the tail. Boil perm is a misleading term because the hot water will set any style you have it in. If you have curlers, it'll be curly. If it's in braids, you get a crimped effect. If you put a rubber band around the bangs they'll be flat. But yeah, once I learned about boil perms a whole new world opened up.

      Delete
    2. I've apparently led a very sheltered life, lol, I've never heard of boiler perms! Thanks for the enlightenment!

      Delete
  13. As far as fabric softener is concerned, my mom and I are allergic to man-made fragrances, so we use white vinegar instead of store brand fabric softener, and it works just fine. Maybe it would work with the doll hair too?

    ReplyDelete
  14. As someone previously said, cheap hair conditioner works wonders. I use it all the time with My Little Ponies. I usually wet their hair, rub some conditioner in, then let it sit for 20 minutes to an hour (usually I'm doing a lot of ponies at one time). THEN I'll comb through it--makes it much smoother and easier, and their hair ends up being silky and smooth! I don't mess with it much after that, but it would make it a lot easier to style and curl.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I bought a wig brush for my girls' dolls. Whenever they open a new doll, they know to just get rid of the little brushes that come with them since those are a big part of the problem to begin with. They only use the wig brush to brush their hair. This prevents a lot of the trouble to begin with. If it stars looking a little bad, I just use the same detangling spray on the doll's hair that I use on my girls' hair. A few of their friends didn't think they ever played with their dolls because the hair still looks so nice.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Lovely! I need to try this with the Growing Hair Crissy doll I saved from my childhood.

    Shutterfly and Pinkie Pie are definitely my two favorite Ponies ;)

    ReplyDelete
  17. I wonder if using the straight iron on the tips before you then curled it might tamp down some of the friz? Regardless, this looks amazing!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Wow, I need to try this on some of my old Grand Champions! I have at least two that need this treatment on their tails pretty badly. One, strangely the oldest one of the bunch, never got any tangles it its tail no matter how much I played with it. I have no idea what its hair was made of but I wish the others had had it too--it still looks as good as it did in the box twenty years ago. Now I just have to locate them in the garage (easier said than done).

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hmmm I wonder if this method would work on a Disney Animator's doll....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can say that it does - I used foam rollers on a Disney Animator Aurora's messy bangs, then submerged them in was-just-boiling water. They curled up adorably, and held.

      Delete
  20. Any tips for sticker removal?
    That hair looks great!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, my first thought was "you can't mention sticker removal and not tell us how you did it!" :)

      Delete
    2. I don't know what our illustrious jen used, but there is a product called goo gone that could pull the stickers right off and kill the gummy residue. It's whole purpose is to remove residue from stickers and tape and such, after all. I'd spot-check for color damage first, tho, especially if you're dealing with a painted section (eyes, rump). Also, if you have a strong aversion to smells, be warned that goo gone typically smells *strongly* of oranges.

      Delete
    3. I've had success with olive oil, and most oils and even peanut butter should work. WD-40, too. I usually follow that with dish soap, you know, to de-grease.

      Delete
    4. I have had wonderful results with a product called Un-do. You can find it in most Michael's or other craft stores. It takes the sticker off without leaving any sticky residue behind.

      Delete
    5. Un-Do is actually lighter fluid. So try lighter fluid if you have it.

      Delete
    6. Another option is using hand sanitizer. The active ingredient is alcohol, but because it's in gel form it doesn't evaporate quickly, so you can put it on and leave it for several minutes and scrape off. You might need to do it more than once but you don't have to worry about having to de-grease or deal with any leftover residue.

      Delete
  21. Wish I could show you the photos of the MLP I rehabbed last year - a super long hair Rainbow Flash who's mane and tail were almost completely dreadlocked with random objects added in... It was a mission, but she now looks almost like new. Shampoo and condition, gentle comb while conditioner is still in, leave with conditioner in for at least a couple of hours, rinse well, squeeze dry with a towel, flat iron carefully then wrap around neck or hind leg while still hot and hold in place overnight. Note that this won't work for all doll hair or even all generations of MLP's - some are a lot more heat sensitive than others and some can react to particular shampoo's or conditioners, so do a strand test first if you're not sure. Really badly fuzzied ends probably can't be entirely straightened, but often the ends are uneven anyway and need a tiny trim which can help. If you've got an MLP you can't identify, check out Strawberry Reef for a handy reference guide. I found it invaluable when collecting them cheaply from thrift shops etc for my MLP obsessed niece.

    ReplyDelete
  22. So I was up in my attic today (NOT digging out Christmas decorations! Just, uh, the snowmen! And a few penguins. And maybe a wreath because my door needed a little cheer) I came across the few ponies I saved, and a FairyTale. Decided they would look much better curled up and on my shelf! I'm off to try these ideas.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I have a Pinkie Pie myself that could use some tlc, I'll be trying these! Also, would the first method work on synthetic wigs? I'm actually planning to cosplay Pinkie, and I'm worried about how to get the curls right and cut down on cheap-wig frizz~

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I've seen cosplayers use these techniques on wigs quite often! Give it a test underneath first, though, just to be extra sure.

      Delete
  24. I'm all for getting deals but spending 5 hours on pony hair on a 99 cent pony? I would examine the cost vs benefit ratio there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, for me the "benefit" was having fun trying a new technique - but keep in mind most folks will be applying this to the little dolls, which would only take a matter of minutes to fix.

      Delete
    2. well Karl have you any idea what a pony goes for at a trade show her 5 hrs is well spent because she could resell that baby at the trade show for several more bucks now that she has updated it again. Please dont knock on the up cycling of old toys the collectable toys are worth value and should have been kept in better shape although played with we were rough on our toys and now its rare to find these treasures in good shape so hats off to anyone who is willing to keep our childhoods in shape and from vanishing. History is worth saving if only for its nostalgic values.

      Delete
    3. There's more to life than money. The pleasure of a hobby has very little to do with "cost vs benefit ratios."

      Delete
  25. I used to be quite into the vintage 1st generation (G1) ponies and since they're so old (for toys!) most likely that not the hair will be a royal mess. There is always the option of completely replugging the hair but it's a pain in the behind and take a lot of time.

    What I found works much better is just to start out by treating it like you would people hair, a good soak in warm water and then a deep condition. I usually left the conditioner on for 12-24 hours then rinsed it out. It makes quite a difference!
    Once it was dry I'd use a curling iron on low to get it back into shape. Now I have a flat iron I bet that would work even better. The conditioning seemed to make a really big difference on the super frazzled ends in particular. If it wasn't in bad shape and just needed styling I'd usually wrap their tail around one leg and put a hair tie around it, made just the right size curls after it dried in a few days.

    I would spend hours and hours on a 25 dollar box of 15 ponies that had been through hell and end up with at least 10 that looked nearly brand new. Any exceptions were usually victim of smooze (pin dot mold) or a kid with a marker. There was help for them sometimes but it's labor intensive as best.

    ReplyDelete
  26. My daughter has a rapunzel doll you could really have fun with. (I've tried 3 different methods, including fabric softener, with little success) Boiling water is a new idea...may have to try...

    ReplyDelete
  27. If you mix hair conditioner with water about 25% to 75% ratio it makes a good spray on conditioner to help you separate the hair strands

    ReplyDelete
  28. I recommend "lighter FLUID" for sticker removal! Saved yourself $19 as those toys are like $20 !~

    ReplyDelete
  29. Use some fabric softener and some water in a spray bottle. Works great to take out tangles

    ReplyDelete
  30. This technique works amazing for hair extensions THANKYOU

    ReplyDelete
  31. I can't wait to try this. Thanks for a great post!

    ReplyDelete
  32. I do something similar with wigs ! I had to make a spiral curled wig (I work at a children's theater) I used small sponge rollers and a blow dryer on high heat and it works the same and takes less time ! I let it cook and pull them out I think it would work the same !

    ReplyDelete
  33. I've used the fabric softener on my nieces dolls hair and it doesn't really work that well, I used left over conditioner and it worked best for combing the hair especially when wet, I also used it on her my little pony tail and mane which made it easier to comb and shine

    ReplyDelete
  34. I'm curious to know if both options will work...I have a Pinkie Pie Build-A-Bear, and made the mistake of messing with the mane and not keeping it in its curls. I want her to be beautiful again!!

    ReplyDelete
  35. Although this doesn't explain how to de-tangle a real, live Labradoodle, it's quite ingenious! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  36. I own a lot of wigs and beards for costumes.. Will this work the same way? I bought them and they are all knotty and dreaded.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it should! I know lots of cosplayer boil their wigs to shape them.

      Delete
  37. That is so cool! I had no idea you could fix doll hair.

    ReplyDelete
  38. TLDR: isopropyl alcohol is cheap and removes most stickers from non-porous surfaces with no residue. Be careful on ponies where there are printed designs though!

    I use isopropyl alcohol to remove stickers from books all the time. It also cleans off grimy fingerprints. It's a lot less oily-feeling than goo gone and the alcohol evaporates quickly enough that it doesn't damage most covers. It works great for hardback slipcovers in particular. Exceptions: non-glossy covers, some board books, and anything with too many creases breaking the glossy surface of the cover. I used to be a librarian at a very small, very poor library near several wealthy libraries, and we would buy practically new library discards at their used book sales and replace their spine labels and such with our own. Now I buy hardcover picture books for my toddler which would cost $15-20 new for a few bucks (most book sales price library discards really cheap) and take off the ugly stickers.

    ReplyDelete
  39. How cool! Pinning for future reference :)

    ReplyDelete
  40. Hi,
    Love this! Did you wash the hair before curling?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't, no, but since doll hair is just thin plastic, you definitely could! Just depends if you think it needs it.

      Delete
  41. Great idea! I love reading about different techniques to fix doll hair!

    ReplyDelete

Please be respectful when commenting; dissenting opinions are great, but personal attacks or hateful remarks will be removed. Also, including a link? Then here's your html cheat sheet: <a href="LINK ADDRESS">YOUR TEXT</a>