Recently I was asked how to care for curly doll hair by a lovely customer who had purchased Kidz ‘n’ Cats Laura, a doll with the most beautiful curly brunette hair. I contacted Sonja Hartmann who is the doll artist creator of the Kidz ‘n’ Cats and Petite Fleur dolls, and she gave me this great advice.
Curly-haired dolls like Laura and Ariane can have their hair washed, if care is taken not to get water inside the doll so as to prevent mildew. Kanekalon the fibre used for the wigged hair, is very similar to human hair. If you wash the curls carefully in luke warm water, using a mild human hair shampoo and mild conditioner then towel dry the hair, being careful not to disturb the curls more than necessary you should get a good result. Dry the hair on a very low heat, or preferably air dry only.
Sonja was careful to stress that the biggest enemy of doll hair is heat. When Laura arrives her hair is in ringlet curls which is how they put the curls in at the factory. Part of the curl setting process is to wind the hair onto rollers which create ringlets when the rollers are removed. After washing the hair you can finger curl to get a ringlet effect back.
When I met up with Sonja at the New York Toy Fair where she was exhibiting her new Kidz ‘n’ Cats dolls she very kindly gave me a little demonstration of how to manage the curls. She is not keen on the ringlets that the curly-haired dolls wear straight from the factory. Sonja’s preference is to have the curls ‘a little less organised’ and more natural looking and you can see in this short film how she achieves that effect.
It is alright to spray a little water on the hair, just not excessively as it is not to enter the body. Human hair care products are fine, use mild shampoos and conditioners. Keep any heat at all very low. It is best not to use a hairbrush at all as this can loosen the curl too much. Finger styling is best for curly hair but if the hair is very tangled a metal toothed hair pik or wide metal toothed comb can gently be used, not plastic as plastic can snag the hair. Take very small sections of hair at a time and comb gently at the bottom of the hair first. When a section has been combed go back to finger curling the hair. After the hair has dried a very small amount of good quality hair cream can be applied to treat the fibre and enhance the lustre. Sonja uses a brand called Brisk which she buys in Germany and it is ordinarily for sale as a men’s hair styling cream.
Curly doll hair takes more looking after than straight doll hair but as kanekalon is an excellent fibre for doll hair if the guidelines are followed the curly doll hair will stay curled and look beautiful for years.