Hi there! Notice that I added a new little tab up there ^ to explain how I feel about writing tutorials. I'm always eager to share knowledge but I'm rarely the right person for this, no matter the subject. Now that more projects of mine are coming to an end, the number of tutorial posts in my drafts is is getting dangerously high. I'm going on vacation tomorrow and I won't be back until November. Don't worry, your comments will publish themselves and I'll reply to everything when I come back. I played a lot with my dolls' hair and I felt that I can't cover everything in only one article. I'll try to tackle each topic separately in a logical order. Today we'll brush (heh!) on hair cleaning - I'm talking sticky, nasty, gooey gel hair.
I encountered my first case of gloo hair (as I'll call it) on my Muse Dori. The doll was used, but with the original (although pretty battered) hairdo in place. There was a little bun with some sticky gelled strands under it. I cut the elastic band off, soaked and washed with soap as usual, and... nothing. There was absolutely no change. I panicked and ran to Legendary Tutorials' forum to asked for help (you can see the actual thread here). After trying everything in my house, eventually the hair got clean somehow and I was just glad it was over.
I had pretty much forgotten about it until a few weeks ago I decided to take down Teresa's ponytail after over a year of not messing with it. Besides a huuuge bald spot in the centre of the head, another surprise was waiting for me. You guess it - Teresa had the gloo hair too! Just about the same time a new post from The Toy Box Philosopher came out, in which she complained about glue leaking from her new doll's head. I remembered some recent adventures with hair boiling, how I marveled why the more I was boiling it, the nastier it was... and everything snapped into place. I realized I'd be seeing this issue again and again and I had to get to the bottom of it.
Soo... here's a breakdown of what I found out:
Gloo hair can be caused by three things (I'm only speculating here):
- glue that holds the hair inside some dolls' heads, melting and leaking on the outside
- old styling products left in the doll's hair (gels and such). If you ever plan to move the hair around or if the hairstyle can be recreated, I'd recommend to give it a good soapy wash from the beginning, especially if kids will be playing with it. Gel hair is yucky and attracts lint, which makes it yuckier.
- some types of hair elastic, I'm almost positive, have something to do with this. My two dolls with hair ties had much worse gloo hair than the ones without them. Coincidence? I think I'll replace future elastics with thread to be on the safe side.
With Dori, the first victim, I tried the following solutions by themselves and in various combinations, with hot or cold water. Neither worked.
- dish soap, hand soap, laundry detergent
- chlorine free bleach
- nail polish remover
- sticking it wet in the freezer
- baking soda
The hair became oily in addition to being sticky, I couldn't get rid of the oil and it smelled like alcohol.
My salvation was mom's stain remover for laundry. I gave the hair a couple of washes with it and it was so clean, I couldn't believe it!
Now, with Teresa and a couple of Draculauras, I began with just the stain remover to see if it could work on its own. It didn't. The hair was still weird and unpleasant to the touch. Someone on Emily's post said they soak the hair with tea tree oil then wash with tea tree oil shampoo. I hate how much tea tree oil stings my skin and I don't trust shampoo; I adapted this idea to my previous process and here is what I did and will do if I have the same problem in the future:
How to clean it
(Now would be a great time for a "before" shot, but since I can't find mine, try to picture your favourite doll's hair smothered in earwax and stuck in an unthinkable shape. Done?) Let's go.
[Update 05/04/2014] I came across an engineer's insanely detailed experiments with MH gloo hair on a Russian forum. Her daughter is a chemist. Not only did they work out a few methods of cleaning the hair, they also explained from a scientific point of view why stuff like acetone and my list above doesn't work.
Summary: she poured a solution containing toluol (U-Pol) inside the head several times, poured it out, rinsed; then she cleaned the hair with a butylglycol solution (Profoam) 2-3 times. Alternatively, she cleaned the hair with a ultrasound machine and hot concentrated laundry detergent.
What I did:
2. Add a few drops of tea tree oil to about a spoon of vegetable oil (mine was sunflower, if that matters). Apply to hair and let soak for a few hours.
3. Wash with soap to remove the excess oil. Squeeze excess water.
4. Gently apply the stain remover into the hair according to the directions. Ah, who am I kidding. OF COURSE I lathered all over and spent half an hour later to redo the part.
My stain remover was called "Smacchio Tutto" and came from an obscure Italian brand. I'll put here the list of ingredients and I'm sure you'll find a substitute:
Stain remover ingredients
5-15% non-ionic surfactants, anionic surfactants, soap
<5% phosphonates, aliphatic hydrocarbons (they don't say which though), ethyl alcohol
Other ingredients: enzymes, perfume, methylisothiazolinone, benzisothiazolinone, hexyl cinnamal, benzyl salicylate
5. Let dry, repeat if there are stubborn spots.
6. Wash with soap, rinse well.
7. Condition to your liking (either with fabric softener or with hair conditioner), rinse well and done!
This hair is perfection:
I discovered during an experiment that fabric softener applied to wet hair and not rinsed gives a kind of "wet look" without being sticky or crunchy in the least. I don't know how it holds over time, but seeing how fabric softeners are usually antistatic, I assume it would attract less lint and dirt than gel. If you like the look or want some very defined curls, I think it's worth a try.
[Update 26/08/2015 - It holds. I do all the fringes and bobs like that now.]
|This hair is completely dry|
To get extra pop into previously sticky hair, try rubbing some baby powder into greasier looking spots. You will forever forget the hair was greasy at all :)
Don't do it like this though:
You only need a tiny bit. Dip the very tip of a toothbrush in the powder, tap as if shaking eyeshadow from a makeup brush and comb until you can't see it. Kind of like a dry shampoo for dolls.
This is it for today. I hope it's been a useful post. I certainly would have wanted to find something similar when I was wrestling Dori's hair snakes into obedience. This was the first part of a trilogy of doll hair posts I'll continue when I return in November. I'll be happy to listen to any advice or questions. Will you share a doll care horror story with me? :)
The Black Kitty ~(^^)(^^)~~~~