In the last days I had the idea to share with you some documents about Barbie hair and I wanted to upload the document on Facebook but it seems impossible since Facebook pages don’t support documents, only pics. What a bullshit… So let’s avoid the problem. I post it here and then you can get it from here. No problem.
I want to test the whole thing and see if you like my idea. For the start I’ve only done one doc. Let me know if you like the idea. I could also do it for other hair fibres than Kanekalon hair.
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?
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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.
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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.
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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.
Have you ever asked yourself what kind of material they used for Barbie hair? I did ask myself this question years ago and I found the answer. The answer is not so easy to explain. The material changed within the years. I’m not 100% sure but I think the early Barbie( 1959 – 1984?) dolls had Saran hair only. Some of the early Barbie dolls and their friends have the problem that the hair feeling is similar to straw. Maybe they changed the composition of materials within the decades?
Anyway, nowadays you can buy Saran hair, Nylon hair and Kanekalon hair ( used from the late 1980s on ).
You can see Saran on the right and Nylon on the left. Nylon hair was used for the Rockers and Rockstar series in the mid 1980s. I assume there are more Barbie dolls with Nylon hair but I don’t have all of them so that I can look it up. Nylon hair is much shinier than Saran hair. Saran hair is available in natural colours like blond, brunette, titian and black. The main difference is the effort to style it. Nylon hair is easy to style. Just one hot water treatment and the job is done. For Saran you need more effort. It’s not so easy to bring it in any form you want it to. It has a kind own character.
The third material is Kanekalon hair. Kanekalon was first seen in the late 1980s and has a feeling like wadding. It’s also called wadding hair among collectors. It was mainly used for the 1990s dolls with massive amounts of hair like Totally Hair Barbie or Jewel Hair Barbie. I assume the reason they used it is the price. Saran is more expensive. Hollywood Hair on the other hand has Saran hair. Kanekalon hair tends to tangles. You think you have all tangles out and bang new ones are in. No problems for collectors but for children a real nightmare.
Kanekalon was widely used for Barbie dolls in the 1990s. Ski Fun Barbie & Midge, Paint n Dazzle Barbie and many more had Kanekalon hair. There are a few exceptions like the Strolling Fun Barbie & Kelly.
Maybe some of you had the problem of sticky hairs. Barbie dolls from the 1980s often have this problem. Sometimes even when they are NRFB. The cause for the stickiness is the softener that is contained in every doll head. I have no idea why and I’m not good in Chemistry but I know that it (the softener) managed to get from the head into the hair. The good news is that you can get rid of the stickiness. It’s no problem. At first all you need is a bowl with lukewarm water, normal hair shampoo (the brand doesn’t matter) and conditioner. Dip the the head of the doll into the bowl. When the hair is wet put a mixture of shampoo and conditioner mixed together in one of you palms and massage it softly in her hair. Then put the hair in the bowl. The important thing is that the hair has to be in the bowl for at least twelve hours. For the next step you need a big cooking pot. Fill it with water, put it on the stove and switch it on. Wait until the water is cooking. Then put the hair and the head in there for 5 minutes. Insure yourself that the hair doesn’t touch the walls of your cooking pot. It’s going to melt when it does touch the walls of your cooking pot. After that you can remove the the head from your cooking pot. Use a guest towel for the drying process. Put the doll towel and wait until the hair is dry. Then the stickiness should be gone. If not, repeat the process for a second time. My doll needed the process two times.
Please consider that you should only do the process with dolls from the 1980s. When you do it with Fashionistas the result might be that your doll is bold. The method of how the hair is fixed inside has changed in the last decade.
This time I would like to introduce Cool & Crimp Skipper and Courtney. They are from 1993. I’m always surprised when I discover fashion trends from the past. The overalls are great. They remind me to the 1990s. I also can remember the dummies. I had a lot of them myself. I can’t believe this was a trend almost 20 years ago.