Restoring Barbie To Her Former Glory Part 1 (A How To Guide To Barbie Doll Restoration)

What little girl doesn’t simultaneously love and cherish her Barbie dolls while at the same time abusing them? Barbie is one of the most beloved childhood icons of all time, but boy does she get put through the wringer. Whether it’s intentionally, i.e. when your big brother chops off all of Barbie’s hair just to watch your cry; or unintentionally, through sheer wear and tear, i.e. you play with your dolls so much that they get dirty, their hair becomes a hot  mess, and the makeup on their faces starts to fade away; Barbie gets put through the paces. (Thankfully with advances in plastic surgery, Barbie doesn’t show her age at all. Get it? Plastic surgery? Because she’s plastic….)

pile of barbie dolls

My lame, word pun humor aside, this is a serious problem for you as an auction hunter. Who hasn’t stumbled across a cache of Barbie dolls whom have seen their better days? At first glance, these dolls may look destined for the scrap heap and may appear worthless in value. Even though it is my belief that all Barbie’s go to heaven, I think it’s time we all took a stand against the senseless slaughter of a timeless icon. Especially because with just a little TLC and creativity Barbie can be restored to her former glory, and more importantly, can make you money! Besides, what does Barbie love more than a makeover? Aside from Ken, I can’t think of anything.

In this instructional, I’ve detailed steps for cleaning up modern Barbie dolls (dolls from the 1970s to the present) using around the house items so that she can go back to winning new friends and influencing people and you can work towards putting yourself in the green for the unit she was unearthed from. I’ve broken this down into two parts. In Part 1, we’ll focus on Barbie’s unruly mop top, and in Part 2, we’ll talk about how to properly give Barbie a bath!

Giving Barbie a Hair Do Instead of a Don’t

Restoring Barbie’s luscious mane is the most time consuming piece of the restoration process, as Barbie’s hair tends to clump and dread rather easily and can be a nightmare to fix which is why many dolls get dumped to begin with. To save time, you’ll probably want to try to work on a batch of dolls at once. To begin, collect the following items.

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Detangling spray
  • Steel comb
  • Flea comb
  • Flat plate or dish,
  • Boiling hot water
  • Hand cream/Body lotion
  • Rubber Gloves
    1. Start by detangling Barbie’s hair. Using just your fingers, as much as possible, without ripping or pulling on her hair, work your fingers through the tangles and try to sort her hair into where it should all reasonably sit on her head. It is important to start with your fingers in case there are pins, briars, or anything else tangled in the hair.


    1. Use the detangling spray and the metal comb to brush to give the hair a once over and to try to straighten it out as much as possible while removing any dread locks or matted sections. Instead of detangling spray you may also use regular conditioner, or even fabric softener. Remember to work through the hair in sections.


    1. Pour the hot water over Barbie’s mane and make sure it is completely wet.  It should be close to boiling, but not so hot that it starts to cause the hair fibers to split and create patterns of their own.  (This is where the rubber gloves will come in handy.)


    1. Add some conditioner and use the metal comb to brush through the hair.


    1. Once the steel comb goes through smoothly, you’ll want to fill your plate with hot water and dip Barbie’s hair in the plate, brushing it out with the flea comb. An eyelash comb will also work. Make sure not to put Barbie’s body in the water or she can get water logged and start to rot!


    1. At this stage, while you are combing out the hair, Barbie’s head should be in the water, facing up. The point of this is to allow her head to gently lay on the hair so that it starts to lay flat against her back as it should.


    1. Once you are happy with the placement of Barbie’s hair and you can easily comb through it with your flea/eyelash comb, sit her upright and pour the hot water over her hair. Give her a final  comb and allow her to air dry. DO NOT USE A BLOWDRYER!!!


  1. Once Barbie’s hair is completely dry, you may find that you need to add a bit of hand lotion to her hair to act as a leave in conditioner and help deal with any static that is occurring.


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