Upcycling Preloved Dolls.

One of my favourite hobbies is buying tired looking dolls from charity shops and giving them a makeover. I prefer not to buy new toys for Tiny as she has so much already and I hate the waste.

I have a couple of rules – I never spend more than £2 and I avoid the standard blonde Barbie. The more unusual – the better!

The really tatty looking dolls tend to be the best value so I had to learn a few tricks for sorting out their hot mess hair.

To fix tatty, knotted hair I use a mixture of softener and hot water:

1. Soak hair in hot water.

2. Brush as thoroughly as possibly to remove knots and tangles. Hold hair near the scalp to avoid too much loss of hair – although some loss is inevitable!

3. Soak in a mixture of hot water and softener. How much softener to use is really guess work. It depends on the type of softener you have and the state of the hair. I use 1 part softener to 3 parts water.

4. Soak the hair for as long as you have the patience for then remove and brush again. If the hair still looks or feels tatty return to the mixture for more soaking.

5. Leave to dry overnight.

For a quick makeover that doesn’t involve boiling water I use an old leave in conditioner of my daughter’s. You just spray it on generously, and brush through. It’s handy for keeping the hair in good condition.

Here’s the doll collection after a recent conditioning session at our salon:

Another tricky problem that you might face with your dolls is greasy hair. Greasy, sticky hair is caused by glue leaking from the head. It can be improved but I haven’t discovered a way to totally fix it yet so I tend to avoid dolls with greasy hair.

To improve greasy hair:

1. Wash and thoroughly dry the dolls hair. I just use baby shampoo and hot water.

2. Add baby powder gradually, focus on the scalp and allow it soak up the grease. Comb through.

This only really works with light haired dolls. Dark haired dolls will always look dusty! It will leave your doll with a matte finish rather than glossy. It’s not perfect but it’s definitely better and more stylable (Is that a word?🤔) than sticky hair, and it improves over time as the chalk becomes less noticeable.

I think this is great way to rejuvenate tired dolls or spruce them up before selling/passing them on. And it would definitely be a fun project with an older child.

These are Tiny’s dolls and they’re all second-hand except one.

If you have any other tips for rescuing dolls I’d love to hear them.


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