With the recent release of the Barbie movie, I got into the whole world of Barbie Dolls again.
I’ve been a Barbie fan since I was old enough to talk – I collected Barbie dolls, Barbie shoes, and clothes, and I played with Barbie dolls till I went to college.
I even made Barbie accessories out of paper and cardboard, and I’m grateful to have had such a colorful and creative childhood.
I was a Barbie enthusiast.
I know I’m not the only one with a strange fascination with Barbie hair – I’ve spent a lot of time cutting, dying, and styling it!
In this post, we will journey through the evolution of Barbie’s hair, tracing its roots from its humble beginnings to the modern innovations that have transformed how we perceive and interact with this timeless toy.
Let’s look into what Barbie’s hair is really made of. I’ll try to add some fun facts to this post to make it an interesting read!
Let’s dive in!
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What is Barbie Hair made of?
Barbie’s hair has evolved over the years, and different materials have been used to create her iconic locks.
Let’s look at all the materials Barbie Creators have used to make Barbie Hair:
1. Saran Hair
In the early years of Barbie’s existence, her hair was primarily made of Saran material. Saran hair is a type of synthetic fiber known for its lustrous appearance and the ability to hold intricate hairstyles.
It has a smooth texture that allows for easy combing, styling, and curling. Saran hair was used for many classic Barbie dolls from the late 1950s to the 1980s.
So Barbies with Saran hair include Tropical Barbie, Astronaut Barbie, Day to Night Barbie, Crystal Barbie, Peaches and Cream Barbie, Rockers Barbie, etc.
It’s difficult to find these dolls at the moment, and it’s kinda expensive. I could track this rare Barbie Doll on Amazon – it’s Barbie My Favorite Time Capsule 1986 Rockers doll.
Can you use curling tools/straightening tools on Saran Barbie Hair?
Yes, you can use heating tools, but you must be cautious.
The exact melting point of Saran can vary depending on the specific formulation and processing methods used in its production.
However, Saran is designed to withstand moderate heat levels without melting or becoming significantly damaged. This makes it suitable for various styling techniques, such as curling with a low-heat curling iron, as long as you exercise caution and use appropriate temperature settings.
When styling Barbie doll hair made of Saran, it’s important to:
- Use Low Heat: Always use the lowest heat setting on your curling iron or other styling tools. This helps prevent any potential damage to the doll’s hair.
- Monitor Heat Exposure: Be mindful of when the hair is exposed to heat. Hold the hair around the curling iron for only a few seconds to avoid excessive heat exposure.
- Test in an Inconspicuous Area: If you’re unsure about how the doll’s hair will react to heat, you can test a small section of hair in an inconspicuous area before styling the entire doll.
- Allow Cooling Time: After styling, allow the curls to cool before handling the hair. This helps the curls set and reduces the risk of deformation.
You can also use curlers and zero heat – see how Barbienation manages to curl and restore a 1989 Barbie Doll’s hair:
2. Nylon Hair:
In the 1990s, Mattel, the company behind Barbie, started using nylon hair for some Barbie dolls.
Nylon hair is another type of synthetic material that offers a shiny and sleek appearance. It can also hold various hairstyles and is relatively durable.
Nylon Hair can easily be dyed – I highly recommend markers over normal dyes because normal hair dyes will eventually fade or transfer to the doll. Markers stain the nylon hair beautifully.
Nylon is known for its durability and resistance to wear and tear. It may have been chosen to enhance the longevity of Barbie’s hair, ensuring that it could withstand repeated play and styling without becoming damaged.
Nylon is also much cheaper than Saran – so because it’s cost-friendly and more durable – Mattel found it easier to make Barbie Dolls with Nylon hair.
While I can’t provide an exhaustive list of every Barbie doll with nylon hair, I can mention some notable lines and editions that have featured nylon hair. Here are a few examples I’ve found while researching:
The Barbie Fashionistas line, which features dolls with diverse body types, skin tones, and styles, has included dolls with nylon hair in various colors and lengths. I actually do collect these and find them quite lovely!
Barbie Color Magic:
The Barbie Color Magic line introduced dolls with hair that could change color when exposed to cold or warm water.
Some of these dolls had nylon hair that was designed to react to temperature changes.
Barbie Styling Head Dolls:
Some Barbie styling head dolls, which are designed for hairstyling play, have featured nylon hair that can be washed, cut, and styled.
Barbie Basics: The Barbie Basics line, also known as Model Muse, features dolls with minimalistic fashions and often includes a variety of hair types, including nylon hair.
Barbie Princess and Fairy Tale Dolls: Various Barbie dolls from princess and fairy tale-themed lines have featured nylon hair that complements their magical or royal personas.
Barbie Collector Editions: Some collector-focused Barbie dolls, especially those aiming to capture a specific era or theme, may also use nylon hair for its styling versatility and durability.
3. Kanekalon Hair:
Kanekalon is a high-quality synthetic hair fiber that has been used for Barbie dolls as well.
Kanekalon hair is often found in higher-end and collector-focused Barbie dolls that prioritize authenticity and attention to detail. These dolls may include specific collector editions, premium releases, or dolls with elaborate hairstyles that benefit from the softness and curl-holding capabilities of Kanekalon fiber.
One main issue is that in 10-15 years, Kanekalon starts to degrade and deteriorate. Some say it’s carcinogenic (there’s no substantial proof, though).
As of now, I’m fairly certain that some Monster High dolls do use Kanekalon hair.
It’s very difficult to maintain and requires constant care and upkeep. I found a Youtube video, and in this video, she explains how she restores Kanekalon hair on Barbie dolls:
4. Mixed Materials:
In recent years, Barbie’s hair may be made from a combination of different materials, including various types of synthetic fibers. This allows for a balance between aesthetics, durability, and ease of styling.
5. Real Hair
I was actually quite surprised to find out that in some limited editions and collector’s editions, Barbie’s hair has been made from real hair.
This premium option offers a more authentic and luxurious feel. However, real hair requires more maintenance and care to look its best.
Using real human hair adds a level of authenticity and realism to the doll’s appearance, but it also requires more care and maintenance compared to synthetic hair materials.
Here are a few instances where real human hair has been used for Barbie doll hair:
Silkstone Barbie Dolls:
Silkstone Barbie dolls are known for their high-quality craftsmanship and attention to detail. Some Silkstone dolls have featured real human hair to enhance their realism and appeal to collectors.
My Size Barbie:
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Mattel introduced “My Size Barbie,” which were larger-than-life dolls designed to be closer to human proportions.
Some of these dolls featured real human hair to provide a more lifelike feel.
Occasionally, Mattel has collaborated with fashion designers or artists to create special edition Barbie dolls. Some of these collaborations have included using real human hair to match the specific style or vision of the designer.
Historical and Movie-Inspired Dolls:
Limited edition Barbie dolls that depict historical figures or characters from movies may use real human hair to accurately replicate the hairstyles of the time period or the character.
All of this information has been found online, and because it’s very difficult to truly know what materials have been used to make Barbie Hair – I cannot verify everything.
So, I honestly suggest looking at Barbie Doll forums or contacting the manufacturers directly to get more information when it comes to Barbie hair.
It’s also important to note that the specific material used for Barbie’s hair can vary depending on the doll’s edition, release date, and intended target audience.
Over time, advances in materials and manufacturing technology have improved the quality and appearance of Barbie’s hair, allowing for a wide range of hairstyles and creative play possibilities.