Restoring Doll Bangs, Pin Curls and Hair Parts

   Let’s fix those bangs and frizzy parts! Awhile back I did a Restoring Hair Tutorial. We covered hot water dunking basics and how to restore straight hair, big curls and tight ringlets but we didn’t get to bangs. Today we will discuss bangs, pin curls and frizzy parts.

American Girl dolls have nice quality wigs of blended mod-acrylic fibers. Since their hair is basically plastic, the best way to return it to its original shape and shine is to heat it up. A HWD is the best way to do this but you can’t dunk a dolls face or emerge her wig cap so lets figure out how to heat up bangs and scalps.

You Will Need: a pan of boiling water, a toothbrush, a dowel rod, towels, cotton pads, a hair dryer, hair gel and a plastic bag. (Hair dryer and gel are needed for pin curls only.) If you are just getting started with restoring a dolls hair you should start with a good washing (Doll Cleaning) and a HWD (Restoring Doll Hair ). Bangs, parts and pin curls are the finishing touch to any dollie make over.


Important: Before starting, safely place your doll in a plastic bag and tie it securely around her neck. I sometimes double bag a doll and tie one bag in the front and one in the back for extra protection. Heat can damage the eyes and any water that gets trapped inside will eventually rust. With the doll’s eyes in the closed position, tape a cotton ball or chunk of cotton pad over each eye.

During a HWD, I told you to let the water cool for 5 minutes but for all of these projects, keep the water boiling since hair will not be placed directly in the water. The boiling water is required for each hair tutorial below even if it is not pictured.

For the Part: Let’s start with the frizzy dry hair part. This is the $30 Mia that started her journey in A Doll Cleaning Tutorial. She was scrubbed from top to bottom and was later given a HWD. Her hair was so soft and pretty again but the scalp still had little broken hairs sticking out preventing her from looking her best. (If there are only a couple of hairs, I just pull them out, especially if we are on a photo shoot.) Mia has become an eye donor and will later become a custom doll so eye protection isn’t need in this case.


Once your doll is protected and the water is boiling, place the head of the toothbrush in the water for 10-15 seconds. Get it nice and steamy. Holding the doll steady with one hand, begin to brush the hair part with the toothbrush. I drag the brush with slight pressure down the hair. Dunk the toothbrush, brush the part. Dunk the toothbrush, brush the part. Continue to do this over and over even after it looks smooth to reshape the hairs. When you think you’ve done it enough, do it again. 


Back on eye swap day, (Doll Eye Removal and Replacement Tutorial) I did this hair part treatment to my TM #27, Paige. Her scalp was really frizzy and kept me from taking her on photo shoots. As you can see, she still has a few scalp hairs sticking up. Her hair is much better but I should have done it more (and I will do it again).


Paige, before and after her Eye Swap and Hair Part Treatment.

For Pin Curls: Find the pin curls on your wig or cut a thin piece of hair to create one. Using the toothbrush, wet one strand of hair. Wrap it tightly around the dowel rod and drag the wet, boiling hot tooth brush on the hair around the dowel rod. Repeat this multiple times, I usually do it up to 15 times. Remember, the heat is reshaping the hair so you can’t do it too much.

Continue to hold it in place and using the hair dryer, dry it for about 30 seconds or until halfway dry. (It’s a really thin piece of hair, so it won’t take long.) Now take a tiny amount of hair gel (mine is hair clay, but it doesn’t matter) and thinly coat the strand of hair. Finish drying with the hair dryer. Gently release the curl and move to the next one.

For Bangs: Bangs require a lot of patience, at least for me they do! This 1987 Samantha was in pretty good condition but her hair was dry. She received a HWD but the ends of her bangs were dry too. A tiny piece of bang accidentally got straightened in the HWD and also needed to lay down.


I start with pulling the top part of the hair back and lay the dowel rod against the forehead. Using the boiling hot toothbrush, I drag it over the bangs combing them into place. Once a section is smooth, bring down more hair and repeat. Do this over and over focusing on dry parts or unruly sections. Once I have brushed through all sections, I style the bangs and continue to brush them with the boiling water until they are placed how I want them to lay. Happy styling!

Side note: We all know it isn’t ideal to soak a dolls wig cap but if it gets wet, stay calm. I had a beyond repair doll that I purchased as an “eye donor”. After removing her eyes, I set the head in the sink and poured boiling water over the head to see if it could help her dry bangs. It did! Also, it didn’t ruin the wig cap or loosen the wig. After the hair dried, the bangs kinda stuck out and weren’t their best. So again, soaking the wig cap isn’t ideal and don’t do it on purpose but don’t freak out if it gets wet.

3 thoughts on “Restoring Doll Bangs, Pin Curls and Hair Parts

  1. This is very interesting. I am totally afraid to do anything to my dolls for fear I will injure them so this step-by-step tutorial is very helpful.
    I have a Gotz girl who needs to have her hair done again. I worked on it last Summer and it came out alright. I don’t know who was more traumatized during the process me or her (laugh).

  2. Thank you for a great tutorial on doll hair! I am trying fix up my old Samantha doll for my daughter who is enjoying the books. However, after the HWB and hair straightening, her bangs are longer than I remember and cover her eyes. Would you curl them more so they better frame her face?

    • I am so glad it was helpful! Personally, I would try the boiling hot tooth brush over the bangs on a large foam roller and stay away from the “root” to prevent it sticking out. It’s a slow process but worth it. So glad you can pass your doll on to your daughter!

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