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A Vinyl Dolls Makeover

A Day at the Beauty Parlor

These are before and after photos of the same doll. I bought this poor little doll on eBay. She was in terrible condition as you can see. She had the remnants of a white Native American dress on. It was leather. I did keep it but it's in really poor and dirty condition and was stapled on to the doll. The doll herself was also very dirty, had white coating on her eyes, and her hair was terrible.

The doll's hair was originally rooted as you see in the photos with a long line on top and a bit at the sides to be braided. I washed her hair in water and a bit of dish soap being careful to aviod the eyes. I rinsed her hair with Downy laundry softner.

There are somewhat different methods you want to use when trying to fix a dolls hair, depending on what type of doll you have, and more importantly the type of hair and how it's put on the doll. In the case of the vinyl dolls, most of them have rooted hair. Vinyl hair is sewn together under the dolls head. The hair bunches that come out of the holes are called plugs. Some dolls that have been played with are missing plugs, which means the hair from one of the holes is all gone.

When brushing dolls hair you want to be careful and not pull to hard which pulls the hair out of the holes and can also break it. There will always be some hair lost when you brush it, so try to do so as little as possible and very carefully. You don't always need to brush all of a dolls hair, but in this case it all needed work. Start at the bottom ends of the dolls hair and brush out a little, then work up, brushing out a little more until you get to the top of your dolls head.

To clean the rest of the doll I used forumla 9-1-1 from Twin Pines. I've also used liquid dish soap but it isn't as good on some cleaning some of the things that get on old dolls, like wig glue. Which ever cleaner I use I clean the dolls with a damp cloth and the cleaner. Clean the doll as lightly as possible. If you have areas with stubborn dirt you may have to lightly rub the area several times. It can be surprising how a little light elbow grease can magically transform a doll. Just remember to be careful. Don't use harsh chemicals and don't use excess water. You don't want water to seep inside the dolls to mold or cause parts to rust and you don't want water in your dolls eyes.

Water in dolls eyes can ruin them, making the eyes foggy. You can very carefully clean doll eyes but you can't let water run into the eyes. Some old dolls will get the white film on their eyes like this doll has. I'm not sure if this is a fungus or bacteria. Either way it grows on the doll plastic. It can eat into the plastic on the eyes. You don't know how bad it is until you've actually cleaned it off.

Sometimes after cleaning the eyes look almost like new and sometimes the can be pitted and cloudy. Eyes are delicate, and very important to the look of the doll. Be very careful when cleaning the eyes, use a soft cloth or q-tips, as dry as possible and as little pressure as possible. It's much better to back and lightly clean them several times than realize too late that you've scratched the eyes in an overzealous cleaning attempt.

After she was all cleaned up I tried several different hair styles but went back to the original. The difference before and after is pretty amazing, and shows what a little simple work can do for a doll.

The dress she's wearing in the photos is a bit big for her but what I had on hand at the time. She's wearing a different skirt and blouse now. Unfortunately she is missing a few fingers on one hand, probably the same misshap with what looks like a dog, that destroyed her original clothes.

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