Doll hair just looks better when it’s curled into adorable little ringlets that are going to be destroyed by an enthusiastic five-year-old girl shortly after receipt.
There are a few different kinds of curls you can go for, and this tutorial focuses on curling hair into ringlets as opposed to natural wavy curls.
What you need:
- A doll with medium-long hair
- Tinfoil (sort of optional)(actually, not optional)
- A comb or brush
- Boiling water
To start, your doll hair needs to be straightened and brushed. If you’re starting with a doll with messy hair, follow THIS tutorial to brush and straighten the hair. Then come back here!
We’ll use Violet as our model today.
To see how I repainted Violet, check out here Transformation Story HERE! Also, look for her in my Etsy shop later this month. She’ll have clothes on by then, because even faeries can’t walk around naked all the time.
1. Cut up the tinfoil and pipecleaner.
The tinfoil will be wrapped around the bottom of the small sections of hair, so the size of the rectangle depends on how small you want your ringlets to be. The smaller the ringlet, the smaller the foil. For a section of hair slightly smaller than the width of a pencil I make my rectangles about 1.5 x 1 inch (approx. 4 x 1.5 cm). You could probably go for a square, too: 1 x 1 inches or 1.5 x 1.5 cm.
You need one foil rectangle for each section of hair you curl, in between 10 and 15, depending on how much hair the doll has.
The pipecleaner straws should be cut into lengths in between 2-4 inches. Sort of up to you and what style of curl you’re going for.
2. Get the hair wet.
You don’t get a picture of this.
It shouldn’t be drenched, but wet hair is a bit easier to work with than dry hair because wet hair will stick together and isn’t affected by static.
3. Section and wrap the hair.
Now you can start sectioning out the hair, wrapping the end of each section with the foil strip or square.
What a pain! Why do I even have to do this!?
You don’t have to do this. But the foil strips will help the ends of the hair stay in place, and it will also help the hair sections curl down to the very tip. Without the foil strips the hair will curl the same, but I often have to clip off the ends of the hair when the ends didn’t curl as well as the rest. If you don’t care about cutting the doll’s hair feel free to not use foil.
*NOTE: some people like to combine this step with the next by sectioning out a piece of hair, wrapping it in foil, and then wrapping it around the pipecleaner before sectioning out the next piece of hair. The advantage to this is that you can get slightly neater curls by brushing out the section, wrapping in foil, and then wrapping before the section of hair gets mussed. Feel free to mix and match the steps!*
4. Put the hair in ‘rollers.’
Did you guys hate having your hair in rollers as much as I did when I was a kid? My mom used to put these horrid pink plastic rollers in my hair for Easter. It was the dreaded Easter hair-do to go along with the dreaded Easter dress to go along with the dreaded Easter mass.
If you hated rollers like I did, you can now get some vindictive pleasure out of making an innocent little doll suffer, too. Now is the time. Seize the day.
Take a section of hair and make sure the foil is covering the end of the hair. Pinch the foil-wrapped end with the pipecleaner by folding the end of the pipecleaner over the foil. This will help keep the end of the hair section in place. Now roll the pipecleaner up the strand of hair.
When it’s all rolled, secure the roll by wrapping the pipecleaner around it.
There are different ways to roll. If you want looser ringlets you might want to roll so that each rotation isn’t directly above the previous rotation. You basically roll the section of hair so that it spreads out over the space of an inch or so. If you want tighter ringlets you do want to roll so that each rotation is directly above the previous rotation, so that the completed roll is only about 1-1.5cm wide (you all love how I’m mixing my measurement units from metric to imperial, I know).
Violet’s curls will be very tight because I rolled all the hair on top of each other.
So now your doll looks something like this:
5. Boil the head.
This is another point at which you get to torture the doll.
Boil water by whichever method you prefer. If you are a small child or just an accident-prone person PLEASE GOD GET SOMEONE TO HELP YOU WITH THIS. Hot water is hot.
Put the hot water into a bowl deep enough to submerge the doll’s hair. Then stick the doll’s head into the water, making sure that all of the rolls are submerged.
This is an easy one. Just let the doll lounge around in the hot water for five minutes or so. I normally forget about it and just leave the doll until someone in my family tells me to get the creepy doll off the counter.
7. Cold set (optional)
After taking the head out of the hot water, put her head into some cold water to set the hair.
NOTE: you only have to do this if the water she was lying in was still hot/warm at the time you pulled her out. If you forgot about it like me, and by the time you remembered the water was cold, you don’t need to cold-set.
8. Let dry. Or don’t. Whatever.
After you take the doll out of the water, hold her upside-down over the sink to let any water in her head drain out. You can lightly dab at the hair with a towel to get some of the excess water out.
Now let the doll’s hair dry. You can let it dry halfway or all the way before removing the pipecleaners. I normally dry it halfway because it makes it easier to tame frizzies if it’s not completely dry.
9. Remove the hardware.
Gently undue the pipecleaner rolls and slide the foil off. If the curl gets messed up during this process you can neaten it with your fingers. The curls will snap back into place when they are unrolled, unless they weren’t boiled enough.
Other stuff you can do to make the curls look nicer.
Every time I take the pipecleaners out I’m always a little disappointed. Mostly this has to do with me being impatient and rolling the hair as fast as possible. But the way that the curl’s get rolled up is the exact way they will lay when they are unrolled. That said, it’s hard to get them perfect!
I always break up the ringlets with my fingers after unrolling them, and this takes all my disappointment away! I split each ringlet in half, and it makes the curls look MUCH better.
Tips for keeping the ringlets nice.
First, don’t give the doll to an enthusiastic five-year-old girl. But in the event that that isn’t an option, there are a couple other thing you can do to help the ringlets.
Second, don’t brush the ringlets, unless you don’t want them to be ringlets anymore. Like I mentioned above, if your ringlets are larger than you wanted them to be, you can split each one in half by separating the section of hair with your fingers.
I have had some success with taking the pipecleaners out of the hair while the hair was still damp and lightly spraying each ringlet with hair spray. I don’t like to do this when the hair is dry because the spray won’t go on clear (unless you use really nice hair spray but I refuse to use my nice hair spray on a doll I found in a thrift store).
I’ve also put a light coating of hair mousse on each ringlet while the hair was still damp. This works super well if you have the patience to re-roll each section of hair after applying mousse, but I’ve never had that kind of patience.