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Turning Barbies into Natural Hair Dolls

Avatar • Aug 11, 2011

by NikG of Beads, Braids, & Beyond

I was so excited to try the Natural Hair for Dolls Tutorial that I went out yesterday and bought a couple of straight haired So In Style Barbie Dolls. I did it a little differently than Kristl but all methods produce beautiful results. A absolutely loves all her new dolls!

Below are the two dolls I purchased. Grace (blue dress) and Chandra (white tee). I bought them both at Walmart. Grace was almost $8 and Chandra was almost $12.


Pipe cleaners in

I started by parting off a small section of hair. I wrapped the end of the pipe cleaner around the section of hair near the roots so it would stay put. I then rolled the hair on to the pipe cleaner. I left a little space inbetween as I rolled the hair on. Once I got to the ends I folded the pipe cleaner over the ends then wrapped it around once or twice and cut the remainder of the pipe cleaner off. I continued this process for about 40 minutes to an hour until I was finished. I then dipped her hair into a pot of boiling water for a 10 count,as Kristl mentions in her tutorial. I left the pipe cleaners in overnight. I removed them in the A.M. and separated her curls. I cut all the straight ends off.


Pipe cleaners in/the back


After removing the pipe cleaners


The back after removing the pipe cleaners


Separated the curls and viola! Big hair!


The back

For Chandra, I knew I wanted a different curl pattern, so I did the same exact process as above, only I parted off much larger sections so she didn’t have anywhere near as many pipe cleaners in her hair. After dipping her hair into a pot of boiling water I only left them in for about 3 hours, removed the pipe cleaners and separated the curls.


Pipe cleaners in


And out


Separated


Grace and Chandra after their makeovers.

I LOVE this!! What are your thoughts ladies? For those of you who have young children will you be giving this a try?
Check out Beads, Braids and Beyond for more natural haircare tips for kids!

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Angie
Angie
9 years ago

This is cute. I love it. I have a son, but if I did have daughters I would so do this!

Raena
Raena
9 years ago
Reply to  Angie

I am impressed! If I knew how to do this to my dolls 15 years ago, I might have had less of a “Straight hair” complex. The dolls look amazing with textured hair!

vonnie
9 years ago

what a great idea! so cute, they look adorable

Vonnie of Socialitedreams.com

anon
anon
9 years ago

Saw this on curlynikki — It’s a good idea and good for future reference. I really wanted to ask though:

As a child if I wet the Barbie doll’s head, the hair would dry frizzy and untouchable. Does that happen with this process?

E.A.
9 years ago

I think this is one of the neatest projects I’ve seen on BGLH :). Makes me wish I was a little girl again!

sosoulful0125
sosoulful0125
9 years ago

Love the options, gives little girls someone they can idetify with, when I was growing up the only options I had was to cut the dolls hair into style to create options.…lol

Jade
9 years ago

This is so cool! I Had about 7 black barbies, 1 Theresa doll, and a blonde barbie. I feel bad that the blonde barbie’s hair lacked color, so I used a blue marker to make her beautiful. lol

Sam
Sam
9 years ago

Awww. I love this idea. I wish I had a Barbie like that growing up. It was soo difficult to find a black barbie.… :c)

serenissima
9 years ago

WOW! that is amazing

http://sartorialme.blogspot.com

Larissa
9 years ago

It*s so great.
I will do it 100 % !!!
I have a boy and a girl and both play with dolls, why not 😉
Where I live i never saw black dolls with natural hair. Even Black dolls with straight hair are hard to get.
I cant wait to make it for may children

John
John
9 years ago
Reply to  Larissa

You really shouldn’t let your boy play with dolls. Give him a ball and send him outside!!!!!!

Carolyn
Carolyn
9 years ago
Reply to  John

Let a person parent the way they wish. Your comment is unbelievably rude and harmful.

Wow
Wow
9 years ago
Reply to  Carolyn

Harmful. Oh Lord…

Imani
Imani
9 years ago
Reply to  John

John

I respectfully disagree with your comments as an early childhood educator and former preschool teacher many boys play with dolls in the dramatic play area and act out roles of mothers and fathers. It is a myth that understanding how to care for a baby even if it is a doll has an adverse effect on boys.

Nicole
Nicole
7 years ago
Reply to  Larissa

Larissa your comment makes me so happy. I don’t normally comment on this site but to see a parent not hell bent on installing gender roles into their children… I felt compelled to comment. You’re going to catch a lot of flack from this (especially if you are Black) but please do not worry about that mess at all. It’s ok for little girls to play with trucks and build things out of legos and it’s ok for little boys to play parenting roles with dolls or dress them up. You’re children will be well adjusted and probably more socially… Read more »

Crittle
Crittle
9 years ago

I really like it. In my childhood, I had melted many a Barbie doll head trying to curl their hair. I’ve hair to remember this for the future.

Kesha
Kesha
9 years ago

This is great! I don’t have children, but I have a niece and my girlfriends girls too. I am a big kid at heart and I will be doing this. Looks like fun! I hope I get good results. I have a small black Barbie collection, (remember those Asha dolls)? I will get some new straight hair black dolls to try this on soon. Thanks for the project.

boho.barbie
boho.barbie
9 years ago

makes me wish i was a little girl or had one! lol

Jenny Baker
9 years ago

Love them…love them.…love them!!!…wish these dolls were around when I was a kid. Need to purchase some for my nieces. Live in the UK so please email purchasing details.

kels
kels
9 years ago

What an amazing idea!! Now I can get my niece an American Girl doll for her birthday!

Rachel
Rachel
9 years ago

Brilliant !

Moni
Moni
9 years ago

Super cute! I’ll definitely try this out when I have kids!

Dasia
Dasia
9 years ago

Omg that is soo cute! I don’t have children but, this makes me wanna go out and buy some dolls.

Adeyinka
Adeyinka
9 years ago

Great idea! I would love to share one with my 5 year old sister and I think I want one for myself too!

Royalle
Royalle
9 years ago

My daughter has outgrown dolls…I want one for myself! If only my hair were this easy to style! FANTASTIC IDEA!

Andrea
Andrea
9 years ago

This is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen!!!! I know this is for pure enjoyment but this touches on a deeper issue in that many young girls are psychologically impacted and insecure at a young age because they do not see many representations of themselves in movies, books, advertisements, and yes… even toys such as dolls! When I was younger back in the ’80’s my mom would color the kids’ faces brown on the cover of board games and the like so they could look like me! (ridiculous when I think about it) But I’m so happy we have found… Read more »

Miss Glamtastic
9 years ago

This is too cute! I still love Barbie and I can’t wait to buy a few so I can try this 🙂

sybil
9 years ago

I love love love this. Can you come do my hair LOL!

amber
amber
9 years ago

I really like it. I guess my only question is can it go back to straight? If you can go back and forth whever you wanted, that would be really cool. But I know we are dealing with synthetic fibers here, so I was just unsure of that possibly.

Monzi
Monzi
9 years ago

This is amazing! I wish I knew about this when I was younger!

BTW, when I saw the image with the doll and the pipe cleaners still
in her hair, I thought it was a style. I said to myself:
“UH-OH.…Barbie goin’ to a Carribean Carnival!” LOL =^^=

Bethany
Bethany
9 years ago

That is absolutely perfect! If I have girls in the future I’ll be doing that to their dolls’ hair!

Jordan
9 years ago

OMG! I wish I had a young girl for whom i could “naturalize” barbies!

Dolores
Dolores
9 years ago

Rare opportunity to show off some of my collectibles! I customized the hair on some of these by sewing in new hair and cutting and styling it.
[img]http://bglhonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/IMG_1968.JPG[/img]
[img]http://bglhonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Barbie Model Muse Pics 024.jpg[/img]
[img]http://bglhonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Barbie Model Muse Pics 006.jpg[/img]
[img]http://bglhonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Barbie Model Muse Pics 018.jpg[/img]
[img]http://bglhonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Barbie Model Muse Pics 017.jpg[/img]

Aptlife
Aptlife
9 years ago
Reply to  Dolores

Love this too! Now that I see that consumers are able to permanently changing the hair to reflect natural hair styles, I’m a bit upset that the companies couldn’t hook their dolls with a natural style vs straight hair as well. :sigh:

Dolores
Dolores
9 years ago
Reply to  Aptlife

Actually, more of the collectibles have kinky and curly hair. The “playlines” (dolls intended for children) tend to have straight hair. But you’re right, I think the dolls marketed to children should reflect more natural hair styles.

Zipporah
Zipporah
9 years ago
Reply to  Dolores

These are beautiful!!! I remember growing up wanting my hair to look like my dolls hair and how much of an influence my barbies had on me and I would love for my daughters to have natural dolls and love their hair and their dolls’ hair. Love it!!!

nubiahbella
nubiahbella
9 years ago
Reply to  Dolores

Loving the hairstyles and the outfits lol!

If it was possible, I will buy yours without hesitation.

Nikki
Nikki
9 years ago
Reply to  Dolores

Do you sell them after you customize them? If so, I’m interested. 🙂

Krystal
9 years ago

Brilliant! Her creativity knows no bounds.

Jai
Jai
9 years ago

@NikG, you are a genius!!! I love the pic of your daughter with her barbies in the convertible, sooooo cute!!!

DeeMajors
DeeMajors
9 years ago

We did this when I was little with Blue Magic and Barrettes!!! It never failed! 🙂 But that is a fantastic idea!!! 🙂

Mara
Mara
9 years ago

Barbies with a twist out. I LOVE IT! It makes me wanna go out and buy dolls all over again. lol
Great pics and cool tip!

Laura
9 years ago

Those look really awesome!

BlaqueInfinite
9 years ago

These are cute!

zyaran
zyaran
9 years ago

Those dolls came out looking really good, who would have thought to do that :). Keep up the good work.

Jocelyn
Jocelyn
9 years ago

I know what my nieces and cousins are getting for Christmas

mishrey216
9 years ago

I’m loving these dolls!!! My 12 year old has been trying to get her hair that way. She will love doing that to her dolls.

You Go Girl!!

Miss_Bilguissa
Miss_Bilguissa
9 years ago

That’s amazing!!Thanks for the tips. I wish I could even have black dolls as a kid because as Black French, there were no black dolls or barbies on the market when I was a little girl so I remember having white dolls either doing braids or cutting their hair and putting products to make their hair kinky lol…I even remember putting the foundation of my mom in their face!!! That’s why it’s really important for next generation to have good future reference looking like themselves and make them feel proud! Love it love it!!! Xxx

bambiix2
bambiix2
9 years ago

LOVE

Ms. Sassy
9 years ago

Wow! Adorable. I don’t a have a little girl but I have the urge to go buy one and try it myself lol

The Notorious ZAG
9 years ago

I have a 2 year old niece who I will definitely be doing this for! As a kid, I used to braid my Barbies’ hair and put black rubber bands on the end. How exciting to find a new hairdo!

Shell
9 years ago

I love this. If I have a little girl, I’m going to do this.

Pamela
Pamela
9 years ago

So awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m a white girl with curls and I am soooo doing this to one! LOL!!! Awesome!!!!!!

Moniforae
Moniforae
9 years ago

YES YES YES!!!!

Mr. C
Mr. C
9 years ago

this is greatness. my daughter will love this

trackback

[…] friend allison sent us this tutorial on making black doll hair into natural-looking, curly hair. it works wonderfully, and led me to some other links about black dolls that were helpful — […]

trackback

[…] We came across this awesome tutorial on Black Girl with Long Hair […]

Takeda
Takeda
9 years ago

this is so cute i want to go buy black barbies and try this out

Kris
Kris
9 years ago

I was jst about to spend $60+ to get 2 natural barbies for my nieces for Christmas, now I will do it myself, thanks so much!

Alicia
Alicia
9 years ago

I love it!!!

I’m a white girl and wish I had known to do this to my white Barbies back in the day! I love this hairstyle, especially when it’s shoulder length. 😀

Arviette
Arviette
9 years ago

I love love love this!!!!!! My youngest says she’s gonna try this with her big doll head.…

Lisa
9 years ago

Thank you, thank you, thank you! Best idea ever! Now all of my daughter’s dolls will have kinky hair. Very important. Love you for this!

Parker Francis
9 years ago

Wow!!! Sister,

I was surfing the net promoting my business and I saw this!!! I am impressed. You are truly a beautiful Sister and worthy, because to take the time to create a way to change the style of the hair of, well.…barbie doll so that it could reflect more of who we are as a people and then share it with all of us is… LOVE, God Bless you. I have two beautiful little Princesses this is “PRICELESS”
thanks,

trackback

[…] a look at these natural hair dolls on BGLH! And you can make your own…what?!?! How cute is […]

Deborah Kloeppel
Deborah Kloeppel
8 years ago

Wow. The dolls you did look so wonderful! My daughters are brunette and blonde but they have dolls of all colors. As a curly redhead, I always wanted a doll with hair like mine but had no idea how to obtain the look. I am SO going to do this! My granddaughter is too little for Barbies yet, but this will be in my file of “Must do later” items.

Thank you so much for sharing these directions. I can’t wait to run out and get myself a doll to try this with!

All the best!
Deborah

K.
K.
8 years ago

Wow! This is SOOOO cool. I wish I had known about something like this when my daughter still played with Barbie dolls. She did have one with coily hair but the others had straight hair. Those are all gone to Goodwill. Now she only has the collectible Barbie dolls that we don’t take out of the boxes.

Andrea
Andrea
8 years ago

WOW! WOW! WOW! Your dolls look beautiful! I wished my Barbies looked like this when I was growing up… Geez oh man, that is so creative & I love how easy & quick it was. Would love to do this to a doll that was a gift. Never give a straight haired doll to a curly haired girl again!

trackback

[…] Here’s the tutorial […]

linnie
linnie
8 years ago

What a wonderful idea! I wish I had thought of this when my daughter was little! I always had a problem with that straight hair, even though I always bought her Black dolls. This is just great!

Karen
Karen
8 years ago

Pure genius! You have just invented something that affects so many women positively; no matter what color hair, it can be done for any of us girls with big hair! I hope you patented it! I hope you make a gazillion dollars… 🙂 I am just so impressed at your creativity and you deserve accolades!

Liz
Liz
8 years ago

I could kick myself. I used to have a black Barbie with the most gorgeous face I’ve ever seen on any Barbie (the ones today don’t even come close), and she came with curly, textured hair. I loved her and played with her constantly. I so wish I still had her. This tutorial makes me want to go out and buy a Barbie, hahaha. There’s still a little girl in me. 😀 As a curly girl myself — don’t let my Gravatar fool you; the flat iron is my best friend — I always wondered why very few Barbies ever had curly… Read more »

Ms Lici
8 years ago

I so love this! My daughter has barbies mostly as collectibles, but I will be doing this to her dolls that she plays with. I am so happy to have found this!

trackback

[…] time to create a very special gift for her; Barbie’s with hair like hers! I found a tutorial at Black Girl with Long Hair and used it to create, what I call, […]

carla jones
carla jones
8 years ago

fabulous!

Tria
Tria
8 years ago

Does anyone know if this would work on an American Girl doll?

Terry Crawford
Terry Crawford
8 years ago
Reply to  Tria

Yes, the boil perm will work fo any doll with synthetic hair.

You could also put a tighter pattern in to frrizz the hair and thn make an afro

Kelly
Kelly
8 years ago

This is brilliant! My niece is adopted (from China into a Caucasian family) and I’ve been searching for dolls/barbies with a variety of ethnicities. What I’ve found is along with Asian dolls, black dolls with naturally curly hair are few and far between. I love promoting the natural look because I want my niece to know that beauty is not about how much product you use or how much time/energy you put into primping — it’s about loving who you are and being confident in your natural beauty. Thanks for this post! I will definitely be trying this with some… Read more »

Jocelyn
Jocelyn
8 years ago

I used to play with my barbies and literally hate the hair that grew out of my head! It was in the past couple of years when I started to appreciate my curls. I am African American, and having a few dolls with hair like this really would have put me at ease as a child! Great tutorial, I hope parents incorporate loving your natural hair into their child’s lives!

mightycurly
mightycurly
8 years ago

I love this! I am not of color, but had a jewfro growing up. I was so jealous of Barbie and Farrah Fawcett and all of the girls with straight or feathered or anything other than short, q‑tip styled curly hair. My mom clearly did not know what to do with it. Nothing in the world could make my hair straight! I would have loved to have a doll who had hair like me! I love my curls now and rarely pine for the straight hair or even do a blowout. Women stop me all the time asking if I… Read more »

Dr. D.
Dr. D.
8 years ago

I’m just a white guy, so I don’t have as much invested in this from personal experience, but I came across this story and I’m really impressed by the do-it-yourself spirit of it. Someone should submit this to Make magazine.

Next step, someone needs to figure out a do-it-yourself solution to make your Barbies not so damned skinny!! 🙂

Jazzgirl
Jazzgirl
8 years ago
Reply to  Dr. D.

LOL!!!! Thanks for your input, Dr. D!

sewing girl
sewing girl
7 years ago
Reply to  Dr. D.

Love the skinny remark!!! I just think the hair would be cute on ANY of the dolls, because I have super straight hair and always tried to get cute curly hair, I think it would be fun to do this on some Barbies just for variety. I have twin 2 year old daughters and they already love them. Funny thing, one of the off-brand dolls we have is a blonde with hair so kinky curly for some reason it shoots out from her head like Sideshow Bob! My girls especially love her. (We are white Hispanic)

Erica
8 years ago

I have a little girl and I would certainly buy or if I had to make it myself; give my baby girl dolls with hair like her own. I want my daughter to love her hair. I love my hair. No perm.

Tina
Tina
8 years ago

I LOVE THIS!!! I remember having a red headed doll with curly hair when I was a kid! I think my daughter would love to add some diversity to her dolls! She is a straight haired freckled red head, but really likes diverse dolls! Her favorite is a Clawdeen Monster High doll 🙂 I think she would love giving Perms to her barbies, no matter what color their hair or skin is 🙂

Susie
Susie
8 years ago

Beautiful! Both dolls came out so lovely. That sweet little girl looks so happy with her new dolls. I love it.

Lil Tandy
Lil Tandy
8 years ago

This is wonderful. I wish you could make your technique all yours. Someone else will try to make it their’s , as often happens to Black folk.

Jazz
Jazz
8 years ago

one word.… AHMAZING!!!! thank you for sharing this! I wish I had thought of this when my daughter was younger… we come from a mixed family (my mother is chinese, my father black / white mix… and my daughters father is also black / white… so my daughter has naturally curly, reddish colored hair but with fine coils. I unfortunately gave into pressure from her (wanting straight hair, mainly being influenced by seeing a lot of it at school etc.) and started texturizing her hair… She is 13 now and thankfully has decided she wants to embrace her naturally curly hair —… Read more »

Angela
Angela
7 years ago

OMG, this is the best remake of a doll ever. Thank you for making the dolls look more like us. God bless you for the esteem that you give our girls!

anastasia
anastasia
7 years ago

Good lawd, thank you for posting this tutorial, truly thank you!Purchasing ‘natural hair’ dolls are sooooo expensive.
Have two lil one’s in the fam and they desperately need black dolls, with hair like theirs or at least something similar, in their life.Thank you! Will be getting pipe cleaners this weekend-yeah!!

golden sun
golden sun
7 years ago

I tried this with bobby pins with great results! I wish i had a picture to upload. You simply use the bobby pins like you would use a flexi rod or straw set!

maria
maria
7 years ago

I love this. Although I’m not of African decent I’ve got a daycare child who is and now I know what I’m getting her for her birthday. She has the most beautiful hair, and unfortunately some people have made her feel bad about it and even though I have ethnic dolls NONE have hair that resembles hers. Thank you Thank you for this amazing and simple solution to this dilemma.

deevahg
deevahg
7 years ago

Lovely! Thank yous SO MUCH for sharing. I’m African American and had a Barbie when I was young. I remember having to wait until an African American one came out because my mom felt I should have one that represented me. I wish I had known about doing this to my Barbie’s hair back then. I kept my hair natural up until my junior year, permed it for 12 years and am now back to natural. My daughter has very curly hair and said to me recently that she wanted straight hair because everyone else in school has theirs straight.… Read more »

Patricia
Patricia
7 years ago

I have been looking for curly hair extensions and will try this with straight hair extensions. I hope it works..

How exciting…
Thank you..

Heather
Heather
7 years ago

I do OOAK Kelly dolls for charity and one thing I’ve discovered is that the Tamika dolls, though they do have the “relaxed” style common to most Barbies, the texture of said hair lends itself well to microbraid styles. I use an embroidery needle to separate three plugs for each braid; braid them together, then tie them off with cotton thread. I’ve seen other doll artists do ‘rows, twists and Bantu knots on the dolls too, and they all look pretty cute.

Charmaine
Charmaine
7 years ago

This is a wonderful Idea! I remember seeing Chime do this on a doll for an experiment. But anyway, I bet now they will start making black Barbie with natural hair now. I know they have her with curly hair, but she is so rare. We can just make out own now, but they will most likely start making her with curls so that they can get more money out of us!

Leslie
Leslie
7 years ago

I think there should be natural hair dolls. Some company should be the first. We don’t need Barbie! It may have the same impact on other companies as black women’s transition to natural hair.

Laini
Laini
6 years ago
Reply to  Leslie

There is a natural haired doll in CP Toys catalog. They have a website too.
[img]https://bglh-marketplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/image-26.jpg[/img]

Elle
7 years ago

Ah how sweet and cute! This a great idea I always wondered where these natural hari dolls came from.

Starr Forbes
Starr Forbes
7 years ago

Makes me wish that I had a daughter just so that I could do this for her dolls’ hair.

Linda Shabazz
Linda Shabazz
7 years ago

This is an awesome idea. If our little girls played with dolls with natural looking hair, maybe they will want their hair that way. My daughter is now age 43 .with no children, but I have step-grandchildren (2 little girls) and I think I will give them dolls with natural hair styles for Christmas. Thanks for the idea!

Miss Cleezy
Miss Cleezy
6 years ago

I am soooooooo happy to see this! I will definitely do this for my 4 year old who loves her natural hair!
[img]https://bglh-marketplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/image-23.jpg[/img]

Jainell
Jainell
6 years ago

OMG LOVE IT!!!! You should patent something because (M**) will come along and do it. Then charge an extra $10 bucks.

Janine
Janine
6 years ago

I like this alot. With this, little girls will see that beauty comes in all colours and hair textures and will cultivate a culture of self acceptance. Great Job!!

Coco
Coco
5 years ago

Love it! I will definitely be doing this to some of my daughter’s dolls!

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