Because reborn dolls aren't made with actual human hair (that would just be weird), many artists and collectors are lost when it comes to styling. As a result, they either style it the wrong way or avoid messing with it altogether. This lowers the overall realism of the doll by creating a messy, unnatural head of hair, which is something no artist or collector wants. The bottom line is that you must properly style your reborn doll's hair to create a realistic appearance that's similar to what you would find on a real baby's head; otherwise, you are leaving an important feature out.
Hair Products - What NOT To Use
It's a common assumption that traditional human hair products are acceptable for use on a reborn doll. While there are certainly dozens of hair products that are perfectly fine to use on a reborn doll, there are others that may result in damage. Whether your reborn doll features a head of mohair, viscose or synthetic blended fibers, you should use caution when choosing hair products. In addition to the possibility of damaging your reborn's hair, chemicals from these products can drip down onto the doll's body where it slowly eats away at the paint.
So, what products should you avoid using on a reborn doll's hair? The worst thing you can use is a hairspray with "extra" hold, as most of them contain alcohol and other chemicals that could damage your reborn doll. In fact, I stay away from all hairspray products just to be on the safe side. Damaging my doll's delicate hair is a risk that I personally don't want to take, specially since rooting their hair is such a time-consuming, painstaking process that most artists (including myself) seem to dread.
Here's a brief overview of products to avoid using on your reborn doll's hair:
- Hairspray (especially extra-hold)
- Pomade or similar wax-based products
- Extra-strength gel
- Curling iron
Note: Some doll artists may use straighteners and/or curling irons on their reborn's hair, but we don't recommend either of these methods. The problem is that both curling irons and straighteners create intense heat. While this heat is necessary to transform and shape of hair, it can also damage the surface of your doll. To prevent such disasters from occurring, avoid using these products.
Styling Method #1 - Leave-In Conditioner
Now that you know all the products to avoid using in your reborn doll's hair, you are probably wondering which products are acceptable. One of the safest and best all-around hair products to use is leave-in conditioner. It's inexpensive, easy-to-use, and you can rest assured knowing that you won't be causing any damage to your reborn doll. In addition, leave-in conditioner gives you the freedom to style your reborn's hair exactly how YOU want to.
So, how exactly are you supposed to use leave-in conditioner on a reborn doll's hair? Well, it's pretty much the same way as you would use it on your hair. Take your reborn doll and carefully place their head underneath the water faucet. Use caution to ensure the water only flows over their head and not their body. Small amounts of water and moisture probably won't cause any serious problem, but prolonged exposure can and will damage your doll; therefore, you should only wet their head. While the water is flowing over your doll's head, gently massage their hair to ensure it cleans and rinses evenly.
The trick to styling a reborn doll's hair using this method is to apply the leave-in conditioner when the hair is damp. After removing your reborn doll from underneath the faucet, rub their hair down with a dry towel to remove most of the water. Give it a couple more minutes to dry some and then make 2 or 3 squirts of the conditioner into your hands. Rub it thoroughly in your hands to loosen it up and then rub it into doll's hair. You should now be able to style their hair just about any way you desire.
Styling Method #2 - Light Mousse
While some of the heavier mousse products may prove to be too much for a reborn doll's delicate hair, there are a number of light moos products that work great. The next time you are at the salon or even grocery store, check around for a light-to-medium hold mousse. You don't have to spend $30 or more for some expensive designer brand of mousse, as the cheap ones will do just fine. After all, your reborn doll won't be able to tell the difference, so save your money on other things that you can actually use.
The application method for mousse is pretty self-explanatory. Squirt a minimal amount into the palm of your hands, rub it around a bit, and then apply it to their hair. As with any hair product, be sure to gently massage it through all parts of their hair. Missing spots will result in an even hair style that must be fixed.
The great thing about styling a reborn doll's hair with mousse is that you can use it when their hair is both damp or dry. In fact, I personally know of several doll artists who bring bottles of this stuff along on road trips to conference shows. When you are far away from home, you can use a bottle of mousse to instantly style your doll's hair in just minutes. Remember, though, too much mousse will weigh down the hair, creating a sloppy, unrealistic appearance.
Washing Your Reborn Doll's Hair
When you get ready to change your reborn doll's hair style, you'll need to wash out all of the old product. To do this, place their head under a running faucet until the hair is wet throughout. Next, remove the doll from the water and rub in a very minimal amount of gentle shampoo (preferably baby) into the hair. Continue rubbing it in until their hair is nice and sudsy. You can then place the doll back underneath the faucet to rinse the shampoo and any old hair styling product out. Dry the hair thoroughly and it should now be clean and ready for styling once again!