Does Barbie Have Real Hair? (Can You Style It?)

Last updated on September 14th, 2022 at 08:52 pm

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Last updated on September 14th, 2022 at 08:52 pm

Raise your hand if you used to give your (or your sibling’s) Barbie dolls a haircut.

(Me too!)

Five-year-old me might not know any professional hairstyling tips for Barbie hair. Yet, I was adamant about giving her a little trim whenever I wanted to get back at my sisters! 

To their disappointment, their doll’s hair never grew back


That’s when I realized that Barbie doesn’t have human hair.  Her beautiful tresses were almost plastic like the rest of her body.

Of course I’ve gotten much older since then and I no longer cut my sisters’ doll’s hair… However, many people have the question of whether a Barbie’s hair is real or synthetic. That’s why I decided to write this article. 

Barbie has synthetic hair made from fibrous material called Kanekalon and sometimes plastic fibers named hollow saran. These hair-like strands appear to come out of her scalp like human hair but they are not real hair. 

Barbie’s synthetic hair is rooted to her head to ensure the tresses don’t come off during play. Besides this, these synthetic fibers are non-flammable, mildew-resistant, and often chemical-proof. 

These characteristics make the hair safer for young owners. The only trouble is that this hair type can prove stiffer and difficult to style when it includes saran.

In contrast, Kanekalon has a more lifelike texture that styles easily, but its synthetic composition can cause distortion when exposed to high temperatures. 

That’s why each doll features a signature hair texture (like an afro, curly hair, straight hair, waves) styled by professionals.

The latest inclusive dolls from Mattel have added more diversity as well. 

Barbie’s hair is not real hair and is actually made of plastic in many cases. So you can’t put it near any heat or it may start to melt or curl up. 

Some newer Barbie’s will have different materials for her hair but none of them use real hair so styling it will be a bit different than styling normal hair. 

In this article, I will dig up some answers my younger self wanted to know about Barbie dolls and their hair.

Keep reading to learn more about how to style your doll’s hair by curling or straightening it.

Can You Style Barbie’s Hair?

Generations of Barbie doll owners have figured out DIY hairstyling hacks for their doll. All you need are some simple guidelines and styling accessories for a magnificent makeover. 

You can find an assorted range of hairstyling accessories inside most Barbie boxes. These may include miniature combs, hairbrushes, clips, and hair ties. All available to achieve different hairstyles for your pretty playmate.

That said, you need to be careful not to use hot styling tools when you (or your children) dress up your Barbies.

Luckily, there are few alternative hairstyling tips for Barbie to create curls and straighten her hair.

How to Curl Barbie’s Hair?

If you or your child wants to take Barbie’s straight hair and curl it you can’t just use a curling iron as that will damage the “hair”. However there is a way that you can curl it. 

Here’s a step-by-step guide to follow:

Step 1: Brush Her Hair

Gently brush Barbie’s hair in short strokes. Ensure that all knots and tangles get removed before step two. If her hair appears too matted, you can soak it in warm water first.

Add a few drops of mild fabric softener and leave in the hair for 10-15 minutes.Thoroughly rinse your Barbie’s hair with lukewarm water. 

Let it dry before brushing it again.

Step 2: Curl Her Hair

If you want your Barbie to have loose, wavy curls, you need to braid her hair. Divide her hair into three sections (or multiple smaller sections) depending on the hairstyle. 

More sections result in a crimped look, while few sections give soft, bouncy waves.

Braid her hair till the end and secure the braid in an elastic hair tie. 

Alternatively, you can use bobby pins for certain hairdos.

Do you prefer ringlets?

You need to twist her hair with drinking straws or aluminum foil for this hairstyle. Cut these items into smaller sections and then roll each strand of hair around the makeshift curlers. Pin the hair up with bobby pins for extra security.

You may use Barbie-sized barrel curlers, if available.

Step 3: Soak and Refrigerate

Before refrigeration, dip your Barbie’s styled hair into hot (preferably boiled) water. Keep it there for ten seconds before placing it down to cool.  After this, you can put her into the refrigerator/freezer.

Next, keep your Barbie doll inside the freezer to set her curls. You may leave your doll inside for approximately half an hour or an hour. Remove her when the curls set (i.e., become hardened).

Let your Barbie cool for a few minutes after applying hot water to the hair. Then put her into your freezer to allow the hair to cool and set.

Once out of the chilled environment, you need to place your doll on a paper towel to let it dry. Dab the wet hair with a towel to ensure it’s completely dry without unbraiding her hair or removing the homemade curlers.

Lastly, unbraid her hair slowly, making sure that they don’t straighten. Use the same strategy to remove drinking straws, toy curlers, or aluminum foil from her hair.

How to Straighten Your Barbie Doll’s Hair?

Are you interested in a sleeker, dead straight look for your Barbie? Then there’s a three-step hair styling tip for Barbie.

Hopefully, this no-heat hair straightening process can work for you.

Step 1: Brush the Frizz

Over time your Barbie doll can get super curly hair with tangles and knots. Use a wide-tooth comb or sturdy brush to detangle her hair. Dolls with long hair may require more time than those with shorter, manageable tresses.

Instead of combing/brushing all the hair together, separate them into smaller sections. Clip the ones you aren’t brushing to avoid more tangles. Then focus on one area by gently stroking the hair with your hairbrush/comb.

Step 2: Soak, Shampoo, and Condition

Barbie dolls have synthetic hair. Yet, that doesn’t mean that they don’t need some tender love and care once in a while. Hair straightening sessions are the perfect time to give it much-needed attention.

Soak the brushed hair in lukewarm/boiled water. Then massage your doll’s hair with a few drops of mild/diluted shampoo. 

Comb the hair again to remove any tangles you might have missed before. The shampoo prevents knots from reforming.

Rinse the shampoo before applying a hair-safe conditioner. Keep it in for a few minutes before combing the hair. Then rinse out the conditioner from your Barbie doll’s hair with warm water.  

Give her head a final brush, ensuring that it no longer features any tangles or snarls.

Step 3: Rinse And Cold-Set Her Hair

After this, you can pour warm water over your Barbie doll’s hair and let it dry. Do not use a towel as it might create frizz. The next step requires you to pour chilled water over your doll’s head.

Comb her hair repeatedly with minimum force.

Voila! Your doll has sleek, straight hair.

Final Thoughts

In the end, Barbie dolls have synthetic hair. You can’t style them like real human hair, nor will they grow back. 

This is why you (and its little owners) need to be careful with scissors. Or, your dolls will wind up with weird haircuts. 

The good news is that there are tons of hairstyling tips for Barbie that you can use. Adding to these techniques are several on-brand accessories that allow owners to give their dolls creative makeovers.

Let the styling session begin.

Last updated on September 14th, 2022 at 08:52 pm

Matthew R

Hi, My name is Matt and I am all about toys! When trying to find accurate information online about toys I was finding it difficult so I decided to make this site.

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