Pinterest Saved the American Girl Doll & My Wallet

how to fix American girl doll hair

We bought the American Girl doll in a moment of weakness. I didn’t think I’d ever spend … can I put this in neon flashing lights please? … $100 on a friggin doll.

But we did.

We were in New York City. It was Valentine’s Day weekend. It was FEBRUARY in New York City, and the wind was a whipping right up Fifth Avenue. She spotted the American Girl store. And the rest, as they say, empties your wallet of $100 for the doll, and then the $19.95 for the hair stuff, and now we’re getting catalogs.

And she honestly loves this thing … LOVES this thing. Re-named Sarah (don’t ask), she carries her to bed, around town, everywhere. It’s been several years, and she’s still going strong.

But anyway.

The problem has been her hair.

Have you ever been in an American Girl store? There’s a magical place called the doll hair salon. Yeah, dolls have their own salon. I go to my friend (who yes, is a hair stylist, but anyway) and she does a little snip, snip and we gab. It costs me less to get that done than it does for you to take your kid’s doll in. Yes. LESS.

It can cost up to $25 for a doll’s new ‘do. Now, I have really short hair (want to know why it’s pink right now, why then click away!), so I’m cheaper than most … but I make up for it with more frequent visits. But where was I?

I should have known when I saw the salon that this was going to be a disaster. I have more or less no hair. My kid has hair that I’m still required to brush all the time (why thank you Magic Brush, you are my lifesaver). And we were taking this thing home for the two of us to screw up take care of. I don’t think the ‘do made the weekend. Seriously. She whipped that headband off, and hello, goodbye, she looked like something the cat dragged in by Monday.

Good thing that American Girl was a broken one. Really. The eye started to sink back into its head that week. They very kindly sent me a new one. With fresh new hair! Which lasted about a day.

Fast forward to the wonderful time sucking invention that is Pinterest.

Somewhere along the line I pinned a handy dandy (yeah, she’s 7 and I’m still working Blue’s Clues out of my system) how-to fix doll hair without blowing a wad at the doll hair salon. I figured it was worth a shot.

But you know how stuff on Pinterest is. It looks like one of the guys from Top Chef made you dinner on there, and it looks like my cat puked, licked it up, and then puked again in my kitchen. I wasn’t holding my breath.

But ladies and germs, I am here to tell you it works. It mutha-truckin’ works! That American Girl doesn’t look like she came out of the factory, but she doesn’t look like I just picked her up at a yard sale either.

The whole process is not exactly the way it says, but I’ll take it …

So what do you need to know so you don’t have to buy a whole new doll just to take your kid out in public without feeling like the laziest mom ever (geeeeez, she can’t even brush the doll’s hair, Lord knows what that kid goes through …)?

Here’s the deal:

The instructions, which seem to originate from blogger Cookie & Claire (yes, I give credit where credit is due), call for 2 tbs. of fabric softener and the rest water in a little travel spray bottle. Now, I don’t know about you, but I use Downy as my fabric softener. And 2 tbsp. is a lot of Downy. A LOT of Downy.

I used half of that in one of those tiny little spray bottles, plus water, and as the kid worked her way through it, I kept adding water. The smell was so overwhelming that both my husband and the mother’s helper said they wanted to puke … and they LIKE the smell of normal Downy.

So from here on out let me just suggest cutting that in half again — maybe 1 tbs. to the rest water (again in one of those small spray bottles … if you have a big one, you may be able to go big).

Any great “it worked” Pinterest tales to share? Leave ’em in comments, I could always use one!

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  1. No Pinterest stories but I totally knew what you were talking about with 'handy dandy'. We sometimes even hum, "Blue sca-doo, you can too!" I'm happy my daughter was not into the American girl series and doesn't like dolls in general. Build-a-Bear, however, has often sucked a pretty penny out of me.

  2. PLEASE DO NOT DO THIS. I am not speaking for any company, or taking any rights, but I am saying that this is a HORRIBLE thing to do. Just use WARM WATER and a WIRE brush (like the ones at AG, and wire one will work, the AG ones are good for the girls' tiny hands) and start from the bottom and work your way to the top. their hair is plastic, so any chemicals just sit on top of the hair or even (like laundry softener) will deteriorate the hair.

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