Rerooting Barbie’s changing Barbie’s hair

This article will advice you on rerooting your Barbie’s hair. This means you will actually change the hair into new by sewing it in. In this tutorial we’re using Katsilk Saran hair from (Click on the images to view them larger.)

You will need: – Tweezers.rerooting01Bear-thread.(Or similar.) You will need thread that is fairly thick, and won’t wear out while being pulled through holes.

Doll needle. About 10 cm long needle, with the hole equally wide as the stem. Can be ordered online or bought at some local craft shops.

Saran or Nylon doll Hair. Can be ordered online for example at or RestoreDoll sells hair in one long roll, that you can easily cut to the length you want to use, while Dollyhair sells precut hair packages. (I prefer to cut my own because I don’t necessarily know what length of hair I want on the day and on the doll I start it on.)

– A tray that you can easily move away when you want to take a break. The top lid of a shoe box works fine, metallic is ideal, for example the lid of box of cookies.

– scissors

– Behead the Barbie. Be careful not to break the neck joint if you want to use the same body on the ready doll. The older the doll, the more brittle the neck will be. To make it easier, you can warm the head with hot water, it will soften the vinyl and will make it easier to pull out. The head itself is not brittle. Pull directly away from the neck, and don’t twist strongly. If you do break the neck and have the joint suck inside the head don’t panic! You will get it out by tying a loop of thread around the neck joint and a pen, that you can use as a handle to pull the joint out. You can find a new body on the doll later on.- Remove all hair off the Barbie’s head by cutting it as short as possible and then pulling the rest out with a pair of tweezers.- Cut the hair to length and set it on the tray. I usually separate a smaller part of it to take the plugs one by one, to keep the hair tidier. If you take a plug by plug from the stack, you easily end up with a big mess in the end. If you are a first time rerooter, use about a half of what your instincts tell you for a plug. I use about 20 hairs per plug, (Katsilk saran) a little more for the plugs in the hairline, but little less will do if you want a more natural looking hair. (Using this method the amount of hairs will double per plug as the hair is on a loop.)- Begin operation reroot by making a big sturdy knot at the end of the thread as if you were sewing. Pull the thread through a hole in the top of the scalp (plan your route as the holes are in kind of an order). The middle of the head is a good place to start because you won’t be blocking your way to the next hole like you would do starting from the hairline. (Been there, done that.) Usually you can find a spiral path starting from the middle of the head towards the hairline, broken by the part holes that go straight from the forehead towards the middle. Study the holes and plan your path.
rerooting04– Pull the needle inside out, like in the picture, and pull through until the thread stops. If you have to pull so hard that the head goes into a dimple caused by your plug, you’ve got too much hair. WAY too much hair. The hair should not cause stress to the vinyl.
rerooting05– Pull the thread to the side so that you can push the needle back through the same hole more easily.
rerooting07– Pull the thread through, but leave a loop. Take a small amount of hair (about 15-20 strands of hair) and pull that through the loop as shown in the picture. You don’t need to count the amount of hair for each plug, I give you the number of hairs just so you get the approximate idea of how thick plugs we’re talking about here. (The plug in the photo looks utterly too big by the way.)
rerooting08Pull the thread back into the head.
rerooting09… until the thread disappears and holds steadily inside the head.
rerooting02– Continue endlessly. In the photo you can see how to hold the already set hair out of your way as you work.

Common and not so common mistakes when rerooting Barbie:

– Using too much hair is by far the most common mistake, of course not necessarily a bad thing. When I first started rerooting, I used two punts of Saran hair for one head, the first time, I actually ran out of hair and had to use a second colour for streaks! Now, I don’t use one whole punt, and I’m a lot happier with the result. To control your urge to use more hair, you can buy just one punt, divide it in 4 and keep in mind that after each quarter of the head you still need to have enough hair to finish.

– Starting from the hair line will seem like the right place to start at first, but the trouble with that is that as you get closer and closer to the middle, you have to navigate in a big bush of wild hair to get where you need to get. Not fun! 😀

– Not following the hole row will easily result into a malformed head. Imagine first putting a plug on the right side of the head, then putting one on the left. Tighten, and you’ve got a very narrow face on your doll. :p (Yes, I’ve done something similar!) To avoid this, when you have a break, always finish with the thread coming out of the head so you’ll know where to continue when you get back to it.


  1. i would like to know if there is a certain place where some one can reroot my daughter’s barbie doll’s hair. she wants her barbie’s hair a different color.

    • Good question. With trouble? 😀 No, I tend to pull the thread through the scull, then back again through a part that hasn’t got holes in it a couple of times rather than try to knot it. Does that make sense? I’m not sure how others do it – share?

    • Try how it behaves in hot water. You need to be able to set it after rerooting, so if boiling water doesn’t make it permanently bend, then it’s going to stand straight up from the doll’s head. This is usually a problem only with natural hair, but try anyway. Take a strand and fold it over a pen or something, pour hot water on top, if it retains the shape when it dries, the hair is OK to use for dolls. Also find out what temperature water works with the fibre in question, as some fibres shrink in heat or frizzle, so do some tests in different temperatures before spending all that time on rerooting and ending up ruining it in the end! 🙂

  2. Hi,Thanks for your answer on what to do with the thread when you’re done.Yes,it made sense.I found a different way to root.Cut the hair 2 X the length you want,tie a knot on the middle & root it from the inside out. You can have it all come out the same hole or out 2 adjoining holes. I did it with wool (as dredlocks) on a Ken doll that needed more hair. Hard to judge where the needle will come out but it might be easier if you’re going out existing holes rather than poking new ones like I was.Wish a double-pointed needle existed 🙂

  3. Are you able to lighten synthetic hair? I’ve read on some sites that you can not. I’ve been trying to get one of my doll’s hair an organish red, without having to do a reroot just yet with having no experience and all. Any suggestions?


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