Guide to Rewigging A Doll

Rewigging is a task for adults only! This guide will walk you through the steps on rewigging a doll.

Materials

You will need your doll, replacement wig, scissors (the large adult kind) or a spoon, and clear drying glue. We recommend using tacky glue, but most kinds of clear-drying glue will do other than superglue-type products.
For quick and easy clean up in case of accidents we recommend having a baby wipe or wet paper towel on hand to clean up any glue.

Prep Work

Before you do anything, you need 2 numbers: the head size of your doll, and the wig size of your replacement wig.
You can measure the head size of your doll by tightly wrapping a measuring tape around the circumference of your doll’s hairline. Center one end of the measuring tape on the doll’s forehead, wrap it, and where the measuring tape intersects with the end is the head size. Don’t have a measuring tape? Use a piece of string, and compare it to a ruler.
Examples:
18″ American Girl: 11.5″
Goetz Pottery Barn Kids: 12.5″
Bitty Twins & Babies: 12.5″
Next, you need to know what size replacement wig you have. Doll wigs are typically sold in size ranges (i.e. 10-11″). They are also pretty inaccurate when it comes to measuring those ranges, so one model labeled 10-11″ might be much bigger or smaller than another. On our website, we always tell you the actual wig size of all of our wigs, which takes care of the guesswork. If we say it fits 10-11.5″, it will fit a doll with a head size in that range.
Now that you know your head size and wig size, you have to choose which Fitting Type to use. Fitting types are simply different methods of securing the replacement wig onto your doll’s head. Which fitting type you use depends upon your two numbers.
If your doll’s head size is equal to or slightly larger than the wig size range, then use Fitting Type True. A wig should be a tight fit on the doll’s head using this method. If you find it won’t fit at all, you need a larger size.
Example: If you have an American Girl Doll (head size 11.5″) and a 10-11″ size wig, you will use Fitting Type True.
If your doll’s head size is slightly smaller than the actual wig size range, then use Fitting Type Small. A wig should be just slighly too big for the doll’s head, no more than 1/2 an inch for this fitting type to work. Any larger, and you need to go down a size.
Example: If you have an American Girl Doll (head size 11.5″) and a 12-13″ size wig, you will use Fitting Type Small.
All of our girl and boy doll wigs are marked with the appropriate fitting type – True or Small – for American Girl Dolls. Follow the directions below for the type indicated.

Practice Before You Glue

Please, please read through your Fitting Type instructions and practice putting on the doll wig before gluing it down. We can’t accept returns with glue on them. You only get one chance to do it correctly, so practice the motion without glue first!
Not every wig will fit every doll perfectly on the first try. Play with positioning the wig the way you want it before you glue. You may want to move the hairline up or down the forehead. You may decide you want to trim the bangs, go for a side-swept look, or add bangs where there were none before.
 

Directions for Fitting Type True
(for dolls which have a head size that matches or slightly exceeds the wig size)

 
This is Charley, a doll in desperate need of some TLC.
Charley’s hair is fried, she has a bad haircut, and the wefts on on the back of her head are thinning.
See how you can see the wefts of her wig? This isn’t normal on a dark haired wig, it has thinned out. (Blonde wigs you might see the wefts through the hair naturally given the color difference between the hair and the thread). Charley definitely needs a new wig, and we are going to use her to show you how to do it.

Step 1:

Bald Head: If there is no old wig, proceed on to the next step.

Rooted Hair: If your doll’s hair is rooted, not wigged, cut or shave off all of the old hair.

Wigged Hair: You will need to remove the old wig entirely. This will take some work, as you will have to break the hold of the superglue and pry the wig off the vinyl head. Use one prong of a pair of scissors (or a spoon, if you don’t have a suitable pair) like a lever, inserted between the wig and the head.

Be careful! We trust that you are an adult and can handle scissors responsibly. 
Do not worry about removing every last scrap of the old mesh cap – this will actually help the glue hold the new wig on tighter.

These are our de-wigging implement of choice. Only one prong is needed. Be careful!

Pry and wiggle in the prong of scissors between the wig and the vinyl head. This is difficult, but keep working at it. The superglue here is only about 1/8″ to 1/4″ deep, so eventually there won’t be any resistance and your scissors will glide right in to this space.

Post-levering. See how more of the wig is off?

Eventually, enough of the wig will be off for you to just grab it and pull it the rest of the way with your hands.

The area behind the ears is usually the loosest and easiest to get started on. See how there is a bit of a gap there? Perfect place to start.

Once you have that one prong of the scissors in, things get a lot easier. You are going to use the scissors like a lever to break the superglue’s hold. Push down towards the vinyl head with the tip of the scissors and pull the body of the scissors up away from the head.

Repeat this process, levering up more and more of the wig. Keep going!

Pull off or cut off any remaining hairs on the doll’s head. Get as much off as possible, but it doesn’t have to be perfect.

Step 2:

Practice putting the new wig on the doll’s head. Make sure you know how to put it on quickly and that you can do it without smearing any glue. The best method is to use your dominant hand to secure the front of the wig along the hairline of the forehead, then reaching up with your non-dominant hand to pull or flip the back of the wig down over the head.

Some doll wigs may be a little tighter than others. If your wig is very tight, you can stretch it out a bit by gently pulling on the inside edges of the wig along the elastic. If there is a Velcro fastener on the inside, detach the sticky parts from each other. On the other hand, if your wig is a little loose, you can pull the Velcro fastener tighter or use the directions for Fitting Type Small below.

Here is poor Charley. She is completely bald at the start of step 2.

Since we are putting a 10-11″ wig on an 11.5″ doll, we will need to gently stretch the wig out first.
Pull the wig apart gently but firmly. Don’t worry if a few stitches pop, this is normal and not harmful.

Finally, use your other hand to reach up and pull the back of the wig down over the curve of her head.

We are going to replace Charley’s hair with our Glamour Girl wig in Auburn.

WITHOUT GLUE we are practicing putting the wig on Charley’s head. First, align the front edge of the wig with the hairline from the old wig.

Then, use the two fingers of one hand to secure the front of the wig in place.

It lines up perfectly over where the old wig went. Practice doing this a few times until you are certain you can do it without getting glue all over the place.

Step 3:

Once you are confident with putting the wig on the head, place a small amount of glue in the center of the scalp where the wig will go. Then draw (with the glue) 2-4 concentric circles, like a target.

Do not go past the edge of what the wig will cover. We will get the very edges of the wig later, so leave that area alone.

Don’t use too much glue! We don’t want it dripping or oozing out into the hair.

Step 4:

Place the new wig on the vinyl head and arrange it to your liking. This is where all of your practice comes in handy.

Don’t freak out if you get glue on the new wig. Just use a wet paper towel or wipe. If it dries on the doll’s face, use acetone nail polish remover to gently but thoroughly remove the glue (warning: nail polish remover will remove doll makeup so be careful with it).

If you have the luxury of time, you can wait here for the glue to dry. However, if you want to press ahead, move on to Step 5 with wet glue and be prepared to re-position the wig if it slides.

Step 5:

Use more glue to secure the edges of the wig down. Wipe away any excess glue. Let dry completely before use, per the manufacturer’s directions.

You will want to put glue along the imaginary hairline (red line), then carefully press the wig into the glue to secure it in place.

Make sure the edge of the wig lines up with the old hairline so that your wig dries in the right place. This wig needs to be pulled down.

 

Once the wig is all glued down, let it dry completely. No play until then, otherwise the wig could shift.

Charley, before and after.

Directions for Fitting Type Small
(For dolls which have a head size slightly smaller than the wig size)

This is Nora. She has the worst hair we’ve seen in a while. It is matted, dirty, and completely frizzy. 

Nora definitely needs a new wig, and we are going to use her to show you how to do it.

Step 1:

Wigged Dolls: Trim off the old hair closely to the mesh cap. Do NOT remove the old wig. The mesh cap of the old wig will help “fill up” some of the extra room, so your new wig fits!

Rooted or Bald Dolls: If your doll’s hair is rooted (i.e. little shocks of hair come up from holes in its scalp) or just plain bald, cut or shave off all of the old hair. Then, cut off the lower part of a sock and place that over the head. Trim the sock so that none of the edges will show. Once properly sized and positioned, glue the sock onto the head. This will help “fill up” some of the extra room, so your new wig fits! It’s weird, but it works.

Embrace your inner stylist. Chop off that hair!

Almost but not quite short enough. The hair does not have to be a uniform length, but it should be short enough not to stick out from under the new wig.

If your doll has a part, pay special attention to cutting down that section of hair so there is no bump under the new wig.

Keep going!

Pay special attention to the hair along the edge. We want to get that cut as close as possible so that none can stick out below the new wig.

The remaining hair and mesh cap from the old wig will actually help your new wig bond more tightly. We are ready to move on to Step 2.

Step 2:

Practice putting the new wig on the doll’s head. Make sure you know how to put it on quickly and that you can do it without smearing any glue. The best method is to use your dominant hand to secure the front of the wig along the hairline of the forehead, then reaching up with your non-dominant hand to pull or flip the back of the wig down over the head.

Step 3:

Once you are confident with putting the wig on the head, place a small amount of glue in the center of the scalp where the new wig will go. This will be on top of the old wig or sock. Then draw (with the glue) 2-4 concentric circles, like a target. Do not go past the edge of what the new wig will cover. 

Step 4:

Place the new wig directly on top of the old wig or sock and arrange it to your liking, just like you practiced.

Don’t freak out if you get glue on the new wig. Just use a wet paper towel or wipe. If it dries on the doll’s face, use acetone nail polish remover to gently but thoroughly remove the glue (warning: nail polish remover will remove doll makeup so be careful with it).

If you have the luxury of time, you can wait here for the glue to dry. However, if you want to press ahead, move on to Step 5 with wet glue and be prepared to re-position the wig if it slides.

 

Step 5:

Use more glue to secure the edges of the wig down. Wipe away any excess glue. Let dry completely before use, per manufacturer’s directions.

Place glue along the edges of the old wig (red line).
Then pull the new wig on top of it (yellow arrow).

Nora now has gorgeous new surfer girl locks.