As a hair seller, I get asked about different types of doll hair all the time, thought I'd share this here for anyone who wants to know about different types of doll hair Hair Style Guide:Nylon
– Nylon hair (Nylon 6), is commonly found in My Little Ponies and various other toys. It has a melting temperature of 410-428 Fahrenheit (210-220 Celsius). Nylon is a porous material that is idealistic for dying. You can easily dye nylon hair with Rit or Acid dye. It can be boil washed and permed. All true Nylon hair will accept regular Rit or acid dye. Hair dying tip- human hair dye will stain and eventually fade, markers will stain as well. It is best to avoid using those products to keep from ruining your doll/toy. Nylon hair is one of the easiest types of hair to work with and comes in a wide range of colors. Kiwi Hair
– Kiwi is a newer product that came out in 2013. Most doll and toy companies are switching over to this type of hair. It is superior to Nylon and Saran, has longer durability and fades less over time. It feels like silk and simply put is gorgeous stuff. Very easy to work with. Kiwi is a porous material that is idealistic for dying. You can easily dye kiwi hair with Rit or Acid dye. It can be boil washed and permed with ease.Saran
– Saran hair is commonly found in Barbies, most monster high dolls (with the exception of a few dolls- for example the first Venus release has doll grade kanekalon) and various other toys. It has a melting temperature of 320 Fahrenheit (160 Celsius). Saran is a non-porous material which means it will not take normal dyes such as Rit or acid dyes. There are types of industrial dyes that will work such as Rit Dyemore or iDye Poly however you still run the risk of it staining because this type of hair is not meant to be dyed- when using these dyes be sure to set your dye properly and wash it out well. It can be boil washed and permed. Using a flat iron or curling iron with saran is not recommended.Monofiber
– Monofiber has a melting temperature of 400 Fahrenheit. Monofiber is the highest quality type of synthetic hair (also known as henlon) there is- ALSO KNOWN AS HIGH TEMPERATURE SYNTHETIC FIBER. High temperature fiber is NOT Nylon. You will most often find this type of hair in BJD wigs or cosplay wigs, it comes loose (like I sell) or in weft format. It is a non-porous material that does not dye with regular rit dye or acid dye. It can be boil washed and permed, it can be trickier to hold a curl. To get it to hold the curl- dip in boiling water for 5 seconds and then immediately dip in a bowl of ice filled water- repeat this process 3-4 times and allow to dry overnight. An easier way to work with this hair is by using a flat iron to straighten it and a curling iron to curl it. You can use the products idye Poly and Rit Dyemore to dye this hair however you still run the chance of it staining. Hair dying tip- human hair dye will stain and eventually fade, markers will stain as well. It is best to avoid using those products to keep from ruining your doll/toy. Monofiber is very silky and slippery to work with- it behaves better if you work with it while it's wet- keep a spritz bottle handy. Quick tip- when working with any type of hair it's a good idea to have a spritz bottle with water and a very tiny amount of conditioner in it and a. It is very light and wispy and works best to root while wet.Polypropylene
– Polypropylene has a melting temperature of 320-347 Fahrenheit (160-175 Celsius). Poly is easily confused for nylon, but it has a drier feel to it. It also has a harder time curling like saran and sometimes has a tendency to tangle a bit while working with it. The only dye that will work on this is idye poly (or Rit Dyemore). Regular Rit and Acid dyes will not work. It also separates very easily into plugs.Kanekalon
– There are so many types of kanekalon. Doll Grade Japanese- the softest and nicest- it breaks easily and is recommended for using the needle knot method in rooting as the tool is too hard on it (This type of kanekalon is found in Monster High Dolls- the color Absinthe that I sell is an exact match for Venus). Doll Grade Silky- this is stiffer and takes the same process at curling as saran- usually recommended for straight hairstyles. Last but not least is regular kanekalon- this is super kinky and floofy- awesome for styles like mermaid and crimped 80’s and also used for dreadlocks. The doll grade silky and regular will only withstand low temperature settings. The only type of dye that will work with these is idyepoly (or Rit Dyemore). Regular Rit and Acid dyes will not work.Nylatex
– Nylatex is a mid grade nylon- so not as high quality as nylon but still lovely to work with. Nylatex is similar in texture to silky Kanekalon- its stiffer than regular Nylon. It can be boil washed and permed, it can be trickier to hold a curl. To get it to hold the curl- dip in boiling water for 5 seconds and then immediately dip in a bowl of ice filled water- repeat this process 3-4 times and allow to dry overnight. An easier way to work with this hair is by using a flat iron to straighten it and a curling iron to curl it. You can use the products idye Poly and Rit Dyemore to dye this hair however you still run the chance of it staining.Acetate
– this used to be used on dolls. It has a more “natural” feel to it, it’s made up of cellulose. I’m not sure about styling or dying for this as I do not carry it.Synthetic
– When a hair is labeled as “synthetic” this is usually because the manufacturer’s didn’t specify as to what type of hair this is, so it is basically a generic term- my guess is it’s probably closest to either yaki hair (very similar to kanekalon but not heat resistant- meaning it will melt in heat easily), or kanekalon. It’s a coarser type hair in comparison to nylon and other hairs but still fun to work with. When hair is labeled as synthetic- it is a good idea to test a small strand when you are wanting to work with boiling/hot water or curling products such as flat irons and curling irons.*Ombre Synthetic
- this is a high temperature hair, it can withstand up to 360 degrees, you can use a curling iron and flat iron on low settings. It works awesome for making dreads, mini braids, you can make straight hair with the flat iron or leave it wavy for a fun mermaid style look or 80's style.
*I’d suggest testing any type of hair you are unfamiliar with using out before any type of styling- just to make sure it will work for the project you have in mind.
I have been selling doll hair since 2011 and customized a wide variety of dolls/toys/action figures since the early 2000's, (and making doll clothes and other types of art since I was 6 or 7 - so 30 years, whew!). I'm always happy to answer any questions you might have. I'm on pretty much all media sites as Retro Dolls US, I mainly sell out of etsy which has in stock almost 300 hair colors (600 total including pre-orders), as well as sell customs, art, vintage toys & collectibles and more. I have an instagram featuring my work @retrodollsus and one featuring artists who use Retro Dolls hair @retrodollsusfeature. You can find me on Facebook (Retro Dolls US, as well as my customizing group, RDUS), Tumblr, Twitter, Wordpress, Flickr and ebay (seller id: rdus4151980). The best way to contact me is through etsy, instagram, or facebook. I hope you enjoyed this guide and look forward to seeing where your imagination takes you! Thank-you for your support!
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