Untangling the mystery solution to messy doll hair!

This is Lucille. She is Clover’s American Girl Doll. Lucille goes everywhere with Clover.

Clover is a doll lover and the ones she has, she plays with…hard. They all end up having hair that looks similar to or more often worse than Lucille’s hair. A big fat tangled mess of plastic fibers. If we try to brush it out, the only thing we accomplish is either breaking the brush or making a bigger knot. Usually both at the same time! I thought getting a doll with short hair would minimize the issue with tangles, but that is not the case.

Lucille has not had her hair brushed since she joined our family in August, but it was looking pretty desperate. Finally, after some trial and error, we have a solution with our own home made doll detangler spray! I had seen one on Pinterest, but found that I needed to alter things a bit, so I decided to share the  final results with you.

I bought an empty 600ml spray bottle for $1.00 in the gardening section of the dollar store. These bottles are bigger and less expensive than the ones in the beauty product section. I filled the bottle up to the 550ml mark with regular tap water (most recommend using distilled water, but I am doing this for a kid, not a collector, so tap it was.) Next, I added about 50ml of premixed liquid fabric softener to the spray bottle (just enough to fill it up to the top.) After putting the lid back on, I shook it to mix it all up. We put Lucille down and made sure to cover her face and body with a towel before spraying her hair with the mixture until saturated. Section by section, I carefully combed out the knots with a wire doll hair brush that we had from The American Girl Store. Only five minutes later and Lucille looked so much better.

Clover was not interested in waiting for her hair to dry, so I squeezed the rest of the water out with the towel. I wasn’t happy with the little bit of frizz remaining, so I reformulated the detangler with a splash more fabric softener and two drops of Argan oil. The revamped formula is much better. If you don’t have Argan oil, I bet baby oil or similar would work just as well to add back a bit of the silkiness. Lucille looks even better now, but she is much too busy playing with Clover to stop for any more photos.

I think we will tackle the Barbies next weekend. There are a lot of hair disasters in that box.

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  • Michele - Rachel if this really works on the dreadlock mess that is Kate’s beloved “Katherine” I will owe you one. I’ve even tried to find a repair shop to re-wig her. Please, please let this work (her hair is much worse than Lucille’s). I’m off to source some argan oil and a wire doll hairbrush. Fingers crossed!December 9, 2012 – 5:28 pmReplyCancel

    • sesame - Michele, if Katherine has really matted hair, she may need a bit of a soaking… Let her hair soak in the solution for a half hour or so and run your fingers through it to get the biggest knots out first. Then spritz again and go slow with that wire brush. The wire brush is integral, but the oil is not. However, the oil is also awesome for your own hair! I get mine through Avon and I am hooked!!!!!December 9, 2012 – 5:36 pmReplyCancel

  • Eleri - I have also heard that the blonde American girl dolls have the hair that most easily tangles, apparently something to do with the dyeing process. Just a thought for future Amercan Girl purchases. 🙂December 10, 2012 – 5:03 amReplyCancel

    • sesame - The older doll that Gemma has (circa 2008) is dark brown straight hair and it is sooooo frizzy! Her Julie doll has the most luxurious straight blonde locks, though. I think in this case it might be the curling???? Not sure. We are certainly deep into the American Girl dolls around here, so I should do some more research! Thanks for the tip!December 10, 2012 – 11:28 amReplyCancel

  • angela king - this is a great tip! thanks so much!!!!!!December 10, 2012 – 8:26 amReplyCancel

  • Tim - I used a light leave in conditioner for my daughters dolls…worked great. Great silky look and no mats.January 16, 2013 – 5:02 amReplyCancel

  • Kellie - This is a big issue in our house with dolls, so definitely going to try this. Thanks so much!May 2, 2014 – 12:35 pmReplyCancel

  • Kat - The Organised Housewife - Without fail the dolls hair always ends up like this!!May 3, 2014 – 8:41 amReplyCancel

  • Evelyn - I used baby oil on mine from a long time ago just moved and it was dug out of storgage yikes! but now her hair is oily and looks nice and tangle free but oily and gross to touch do I rinse with water or what please help thanksAugust 1, 2014 – 7:24 amReplyCancel

    • sesame - I would carefully use a shampoo on the hair…don’t rub it in as it will tangle more!August 4, 2014 – 8:18 pmReplyCancel

  • DevineMilkButt - Sound simple and easy, results look nice im gonna try it out I have two dolls with ratty hair
    hope it works! Thnx for posting this
    excited to try it outAugust 18, 2014 – 1:53 amReplyCancel

  • Deb geneau - Have a1960’s Barbie will solution work on her matted hair also 5 1980’s Barrie’s with matted hairDecember 3, 2015 – 2:56 amReplyCancel