Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Doll Hair 101 - Nylon, Saran and Acetate

So I decided to go ahead and do some "mini-lessons" regarding doll hair. I have been rooting, re-rooting, and styling doll hair for eight years. So first up - types of hair!!

"Hi Everybody!" 

There are a lot of different types of doll hair to root with these days. I am covering the three types of hair that I've identified as extremely common (I am not going to be addressing mohair today - that deserves a separate entry all it's own!).


Left to Right: Maven (Barbie Basics default hair), Obitsu 02 rooted Black, Kaede (Volks Rooted White Gold)

Saran hair is THE most common type of hair I find in Barbies. I don't own enough Fashion Royalty dolls to say whether or not it's common in them as well, but I find that my new FR2 Ayumi has saran hair. Saran hair is so common because... dun dun dun.. it's really cheap!!

Saran Pros:
- It's cheap and readily available in a ton of different colors.
- It's very easy to work with and once boiled down it remains very straight
- It has a nice, silky texture

Saran Cons:
- It doesn't hold curls or styles very well. You can see the doll on the right (Kaede) has curls in the bottom of her hair, they were much bouncier a few months ago. Also the redhead on the left (Maven) is looking a lot of the wave from her hair already and she was finished just a couple of months ago.
- The color fades drastically with time. I have watched nice ruby reds fade into a dull red, and a nice light blue, light purple combo I have fade into gray.
- Saran can also become a bit greasy with handling (or even when it comes to you). This is easily fixed with a conditioner wash though.

You can buy saran hair at RestoreDoll. They have excellent customer service and I've never had a problem with them!


Left to Right: Renji (Cherry Pie), Melusina (mix of Starlight and Moonlight), Genesis (mix of Vampire Kiss and Volcano), Seraphina (mix of Virgin Snow and Starlight)

Nylon hair is the hair you find in My Little Ponies. Individual strands are much thicker and it feels plasticy. They are very silky and shiny fibers. It's a dense fiber.

Nylon Pros:
- Nylon is extremely easy to style and holds curls and styles like a dream!
- Nylon is shiny and looks very nice under lights.
- Nylon offers a lot of really wild colors.

Nylon Cons: 
- Nylon can look very "fake" since is a denser plastic and is very shiny.
- Nylon is slippery, and when using the handknot root method, this can cause your knots to slip out easily if you make them too close to the end.
- Nylon is really easy to root too thickly with it if you are used to rooting with Saran. The same amount of Saran you would root, you need to reduce almost by half when using Nylon because of the thickness of the individual strands.

You can buy Nylon hair at DollyHair. To be honest, when I don't root with Nylon hair it's because I want to avoid DollyHair's slow ship times and bad customer service. I love Nylon hair - but I hate the fact that sometimes it takes almost a full week to ship it to me and then when I ask about it, I don't get a very friendly reply. I recall almost waiting 14 days for hair that was in stock on the website to ship to me. Still if you feel you're in a patient kind of mood - it's worth getting because of the variety of color and the ability to ask for specific percentages of mixes.


(Calli, a poor unfortunate Barbie Basics)

Acetate is the new horrific trend I am seeing from Mattel. Acetate is truly the most horrible thing I have ever seen a doll rooted with. It is made out of plant cellulose, which translates to very thin, brittle, frizzy craziness. I have tried everything I know how to do to make this hair workable and the short of it is just - you can't. I understand there is a history with acetate, as they used it for doll hair in older dolls a long time ago.

Acetate Pros:
- Uhhh... nostalgia??

Acetate Cons:
- Everything. The color is horrible, the texture is horrible and it doesn't style worth a crap.

Mattel has used acetate in a couple of their newer dolls. My suggestion is the rip it out the instant you can and reroot it with something that doesn't make your doll look homeless. You can order this from DollyHair... but honestly, why would you?

Here is a comparison photo of the three different types. I wish I had all of the same color to show you, but I don't have it just yet. I may follow up with it in a different post.

Any questions? Feel free to comment and ask them! Also, I'm taking suggestions for the next Doll Hair 101 mini-lesson, so go ahead and let me know what you'd like to know about.

Hope you liked it!


Cat said...

I hate most factory doll hair acetate/doll grade kanekalon. It will take awhile, but I am in the process of getting all of my dolls with the crappy hair re-rooted. I really enjoyed reading about Nylon. I have some, but haven't used it. However, I did buy glue to stabilize the knots based on a neat website I found. Also, has become awful. It wasn't always that way, but now....well, ya know.

Heather said...

This is really great! Thanks for posting the links to where you can buy it too... and breaking down the pros and cons, I've seriously never had any idea why I should choose one over the other.

(haha, and I just rooted a head with Mohair... you can see pics of her on my blog)

I do have a question... what type of hair is the original Ghoulia (yes, an accursed Monster High doll, I've heard of your dislike for them, lol) rooted with (have you seen Liz's?) It's super fine and soft.

Also, what are Pure Neemos rooted with?

Tabitha (lovelovekitty) said...

Cat - The acetate/kankelon craze has gotten horrible. I think it's because people are pushing for more "green" things and technically acetate is made from plants. Also yeeeeah.. dollyhair. Don't get me started! Haha.

Heather - I don't own a pure neemo or Ghoulia so I couldn't tell you right away. I can check when I'm up in Michigan this weekend though :) I would put my money on saran for the pure neemos. Most of dolls that come out of japan use saran. But we can find out for sure!

Marta said...

Hello from Spain: congratulations for this entry. The comparison between different types of hairs is very good. You're right with the black hair of Barbie. It's the same as you. keep in touch with blog blog

Heather said...

I'm gonna go with Saran, the new girl I got has that "greasy" feel to her hair. I kind of like it though, gives it weight XD

Brini said...

Thanks for the compparison, it will help me in deciding if I will re-root my Cara in the end. I might do it or have it done professionally. She is my childhood doll who is getting a new body and will need new hair as well.

Verona said...

Thanks! Thie helped me make a descion on what kind of hair I should get for my first reroot! Anyway, what happend to dollyhair? When I used it, it seemed fine.

IHime said...

Thanks for this post! I had some idea about saran and acetate, but I was wondering how nylon works. Now I know, that I'll definitely stick with saran. And I totally agree about acetate.

mjq@rds said...

Hi everyone - we're a UK based supplier of doll hair. We sell, Saran, Polypropelene, Kanekalon, Mohair and shortly the 100% Nylon. We have an enormous choice fast shipping, excellent prices and deals. has been in existance since 2005 and I've been running it since 2009.
We have Glow In the Dark hair and thermal colour change too!
Kindest Regards


Marigold said...

Stupid question, I know, but if you have a doll and you don't know what type of hair it has, how do you tell?

Anonymous said...

Thank you *so* much for this post!

I've been looking into getting started with doll restoration, customization, & creation. I am fascinated with rooting/re-rooting in particular, but hesitant to jump in since I'm still such a newbie!

It's actually rather hard to find good tutorials & explanations about the topic, even on today's vast word web!

So thank you, thank you! It's much appreciated!

I can't think of any questions or topics right now, but I'll definitely be bookmarking your page & checking back often! :)

Doll Hair & Wigs said...

For all those who loves Doll Hair:

We are the largest and famous manufacturer of Doll Hair and Plastic Toys in China with serving quality & excellent price offer.

We own more than 15 modern production lines, 30 sets curl hair machine, and the annual yield is more than 2,500,000KG.
Contact us to find out how we can make your next project profitable and to become your next vendor.
Contact us freely at;

Tina Speece said...

Thanks so much for explaining hair so simply! I just started re-rooting as an adventure and I've been a little 'babe in the woods' about what to use and so on (currently I've been hacking up Halloween wigs). You also solved a mystery for me--I never knew that the doll hair I took to calling horse hair was actually acetate! Now I know what to avoid like the plague.

Doll Hair & Wigs said...

Good Day with Good News!

​We have developed a new hair called KIWI hair (Pet with Eva Composite) and are getting more popular than any other Hair in doll market. This type of hair easy to brush even ​B​rush​ing​ 8000 times, the hair will keep remain unchanged and stay on original shape, not too shiny, strong material looks perfect and natural with longer durability.

We suggest you to
​try ​our KIWI hair for all your Dolls, you will​ absolutely​ love it.
More than 500 colors are available; you can choose color from attached.

​Best Regards

A.r. said...

Acetate isn't bad if you're doing short, slicked back hair. It also styles amazingly (though you want to use room temp water cause it fries like a bitch with heat). Both my non-OC Pokemon guys are rooted with acetate and have hairstyles that combine slick-backed and gravity-defying so it worked decent for them.

That said it's not for beginners and I'd never root a long-haired doll with it.

Winemaking Voyage said...

What exactly may be said in order to make this information and facts more simple? I am a learner, and am looking your guidance on information in previously mentioned concept

Andrea Collum said...

I've had several recent purchases from, with no issues at all! Love their products!

Unknown said...

Currently I am finishing re-rooting a barbie fashionista doll, and I'm using Saran. It's so nice! I was wondering if, after you reroot using saran, you put glue in the head? I was considering but apparently the glue can leak. Any suggestions?

Just a Nobody said...

Dollgrade Kanekalon and Acetate Hair is not the same stuff.
Maybe it feels alike, i don´t know cause i never have touched Acetate Hair. Kanekalon is Plastic like normal Kanekalon (wigs, braiding hair)
But i think Kaneklaon is great.
Its easy to style with low heat Tools like Crimping and Curling Irons.
And it holds it shape very well.

Saran is for me the best cause of its movement and the luster.

I personaly hate Nylon.
Yea there are a lot of Colors and its easy to use.
But the Fiber is to stuff and it gets frizzy on the ends super fast.
I know i could let leave in Conditioner to make it smooth and brushable, but that should not needend.
Alsoi think this is the cheapest Fiber on the Market, cause every cheap Doll Line has this Fiber like Barbie Clones ore the Bratz pre 2015, Bratzillaz, Moxie Girlz and My Little Pony Equestria.

Karen Bailey said...

wow so much knowledge here, love it.

Butterfly Dream said...

Great blog! Very informative!

sphinx onyx said...

So informative (I loled so hard at the "Homeless doll" statement)
I have a few questions :
How is doll grade Kanekalon different than Kanekalon used in human wigs.. Is it just finer? I know human grade Kanekalon can be styled with low heat setting with styling tools.. can doll grade Kanekalon be styled with low heat from tool?
Also is there a doll grade nylon as well? I recently ordered nylon hair and although it styled like a dream, it looked so thick on my doll and no movement at all. The pictures looked great but it's just so stiff!

Post a Comment