Greetings and yeah, the crazy Barbie collector is back with a new topic for you. Let’s talk about the hair today. Yeah, that’s what I want to talk about. I guess you never thought about the fibres on the head of a Barbie doll. I asssure you that you’re not the only one. There are different fibres that were used for different dolls in different decades. I give you a pic for every fibre as an example.
I can’t prove it because I’m no chemist but I think the first form of hair for Barbie dolls was Saran hair. Saran hair is soft and silky. In general it’s available in natural colors like different shades of blonde, brown, red and black. I can tell you from my experience in rerooting that it’s a material easy to work with. I heard collectors talking about that Vintage Barbie dolls – the very first ones – have a kind of mohair but nobody was able to proof it. So there a two fronts among the collectors – the ones who believe it and – the ones who don’t it.
I belong to the front who don’t believe it. Why? Saran hair is/was mainly produced in Japan. Guess what? Early Barbie dolls were produced until 1970 in Japan too. Mohair is more expensive. I can imagine from what I know of the Mattel history that production centralisation is/was an important factor. In times before stock reduction and in-time production I’m convinced that they used what they had in their production area or maybe in their own country due to short delivery ways, time and costs.
Importing goods is always time-consuming and expensive when you consider the import-fees and taxes. Wouldn’t it be cheaper produce with the products you have in your own country?
The material Nylon itself was discovered in the 1930s and mainly used for stockings for ladies at first. I found out that the first Nylon wigs were available in the 1960s. I found an ad on youtube. Since I only found chemical formulas I would estimate that Nylon hair was in the 1960s probably too expensive to use it for Barbie dolls. Do I have to mention that Nylon hair is very shiny and comes in thousand different colors? When you need a wig for carnival Nylon is your material. I assume from what I’ve seen so far that Nylon hair was used first for Barbie in the 1980s. The first dolls I know with this kind of hair are Barbie & the Rockers. Nylon hair was not used as widely as Saran hair was for Barbie dolls. I think it appears several times on special occasions but it was no standard.
By the mid 80s a new form of hair was avaiable for Barbie. At first only a few dolls hat Kanekalon hair. I saw a Dream Glow Barbie with it and a Doctor Barbie. Maybe these dolls were something like a test if a child would accept it or not? I don’t know it. Anyway, Kanekalon hair is one of the big topics of the 1990s. Suddenly all Barbie dolls came with Kanekalon hair. There are a few exceptions like Hollywood Hair Barbie and Strollin’ Fun Barbie and Kelly/Shelly but 98% of the production of the 1990s had Kanekalon hair. As far as I was able to find out… Kanekalon is a cheap kind of hair, easy to produce and easy to work with although it tends to tangles. Probably cheaper in the dozen.
That’s why you often see Barbie dolls with bad hair cuts from the 1990s. You find the explaination why these dolls have hair cuts in the fibre itself.
These three types of hair were used in the last 60 years. I don’t think that there’s much going on the market. From what I’ve seen in the last decade Mattel started to use Saran hair again. The amount of hair is smaller than it was 20 years ago but Saran hair is still used as Barbie hair while Kanekalon hair and Nylon hair are almost gone.