Cy Girl - rerooting hair

Please note that the techniques described here are only tested on heads for Cy Girls and similar collectors figures.
Heads of Barbies® and similar dolls meant for being handled and played with come with hair that is harder to remove (often the hair plugs are glued in place).
Replacing hair of a doll that is meant for play should be done in a way that attaches the hair more firmly to the head than these techniques do.

CG heads come with rooted hair.
If you don't like the hairdo of a CG head, you can restyle it using steam or boiling water or even remove it and insert new hair.

interlocked plugs of hair Factory rooted hair is usually inserted by folding a small bunch of hair (a 'plug') and inserting the folded loop into a small hole in the head.
The plugs are usually interlocked: the loop of the next plug is fed through the loop of the previous plug, thereby stopping the previous plug from getting pulled out.
The CG heads and clones I've seen sofar are all rooted in a similar way: the rooting follows a spiralling pattern starting with the lowest hair line above the righthand ear running counter-clockwise towards the forehead and ending on the top of the head.
The parting line is usually done last and consists of two dense rows of hairs in parallel close together, one starting at the top of the head running towards the forehead, the other running from the forehead back to the top of the head.

Before removing the hair, observe how the hair is arranged, i.e. sometimes the hair on top of the head was made to fall to the rear, sometimes to the sides, this is usually related to the rooting pattern and the amount of hair inserted.

On this page I've described what I did to replace the hair of a CG head. As is often the case I've tried to come up with my own ways of doing things :-).

Step 1. Removing hair

The usual way of removing rooted hair is by cutting the hair off close to the scalp and removing the remains from the inside of the head with tweezers or forceps. One drawback with this method is the sheer mess it creates with lots of tiny bits of hairs.

CG head with hair removed

An easy (still elaborate, but less messy) way of removing the factory rooted hair from a CG head is by gently pulling the hairs out of the head plug by plug. Start by isolating a single plug and pull the hairs of that plug out one hair at a time. Don't try to pull out all of the hairs separately, on an average CG head there are over 4000 hairs so you might end up with blistered fingers.
Once a couple of hairs are removed from a plug, the remaining hairs of that plug come out fairly easy.
If you work against the direction in which the hair is rooted (i.e. start by removing the hairs from a plug on top of the head), removing all the hairs of one plug unlocks the previous plug so you can carefully pull out that plug in its entirety.
Pulling out that plug then unlocks its predecessor and so on.

Sometimes plugs are entangled, so if a plug does not come out easily, better pull out each hair of that plug separately.
Don't use too much force as that may cause the holes to tear, be particularly careful along the parting line and the lowest hair line where large numbers of small plugs are close together.

Removing hair this way will still result in a large pile of hairs, but there is about 1/3rd of the amount of individual hairs to clean up compared to cutting the hairs off above the scalp, plus you don't need to poke around with tweezers or foreceps inside the head.
Actually if you pull out entire plugs it makes less of a mess and you should be able to reuse the plugs of hair if you want, the picture below shows another head with a bag of removed plugs that are ready to be reused.

CG head with hair removed


Step 2. Repairing the head

CG head with repair After removing the hair from a head, leave the head sitting for a couple of days before inserting new hair. This way the holes will tighten a bit so the new plugs will be held in place more firmly.
In the meantime, inspect the head for torn holes and other damage.
In case there are holes in the head that are torn or too large to hold a single plug, you can fix these holes by cutting some snips of plastic from the ridge on top of the head or from the sleeve inside the head.
Insert a snip of plastic into the hole and apply some Plastruct Plastic Weld glue or similar. In case of a large hole, take a long slice of plastic, roll it up and insert it into the hole, then apply glue.
Let the glue cure for a couple of days, then cut the inserted pieces of plastic flush with the head using a sharp knife.
You can sand away any shiny spots left by the glue with very fine sandpaper (polishing paper) or a sanding sponge.
On the picture you can see a snip of plastic (next to the tweezers) taken from the ridge on the top of the head (marked '2') and a repaired hole (marked '1').


Step 3. Painting the scalp

CG head with painted scalp Paint the scalp (everything above the lowest hair line) with a color similar to that of the hair you will be applying, that way any bald patches won't be as obvious.
Sofar I used Vallejo acrylics for painting the scalps, but these are latex based which causes the paint to get sticky when warm.
Always use acrylic paints on soft vinyl and always test first if the paint adheres and dries properly, as some paints react with the softening agents in the vinyl, causing the color to change or preventing the paint from curing fully.


Step 4. Protecting the face

During a reroot job the head get handled a lot, which might harm the face paint (if any) and can be harmful to the vinyl of the head itself.
When I recently took a play-line Barbie doll out of her box I noticed some bits of clear polythene film in her hair, which made me realise that an easy way to protect the head during a reroot would be to wrap some cling film around the head.
Just poke the hairs straight through the film and carefully remove the film from the hair after the rerooting is done.


Step 5. Inserting new hair

There are several techniques for inserting (rooting) the hair. Decide which one to use:

Of the methods mentioned above I tried the interlocking plugs method first, the method is sound and elegant but my way of doing it could do with some improvements (which I added to the page), so I reverted to using an anchor thread, which is both efficient and reversible.

You might want to make your own reroot needles as long thin flexible needles are not always easy to find.


Step 6. Tidying up the parting line

After the rerooting is complete, the hair along the parting line needs to be arranged in such a way that the hair covers all of the bald spots on top of the head.
The parting line consists of two parallel rows of hair, all of the hair on the left side of the line should be made to fall to the right and all hair on the right side should fall to the left.
The result looks best if the hairs are 'woven' across the parting line in groups of 4 or 5 hairs.
First tie down all of the hair that is not part of the parting line, a clear plastic wrapper like the ones that can be found on new heads or a bit of saran wrap should do the trick.
Start at the end of the parting line on the top of the head, separate a few of the rearmost hairs on one side of the line and fold them over to the other side, then take a few of the rearmost hairs on the other side, fold them over and repeat until you have reached the other end of the parting line.


Step 7. Styling the rooted hair

An easy way of styling the hair is during the rerooting procedure. Every time a new layer of hair is added, arrange the hair in the desired style, wrap some saran wrap (aka cling film) around the head to hold the hair in position.
Then boil some water in a kettle and hold the head over the plume of steam, rotating it slowly to make sure all of the head is warmed up evenly.
Let the head cool down again and remove the saran film.


Some examples of rerooted heads

CG Cutey Honey v2 head

CG Honey head rerooted CG Honey head rerooted CG Honey head rerooted CG Honey head rerooted
This is the head with the scarlet hair in the picture of Step 1.
The head is rooted using interlocking plugs and wire needles, apart from the parting line for which I used an anchor thread.
Actually I used way too much hair for this head, but the saran hair is very thin so the result does not look too bad.
The hair used is saran hair from Dollyhair.com using 'Dark Summer Sand' for the base color, with some 'Cafe Latte Brown' blended in for the sides and the back of the head and using 'Sunlit Blonde' for the highlights.

CG Blaze head

CG Blaze head neck hole
Blaze head neck hole showing damage from a needle.
I got this head with a couple of CG bodies, when I got it it was repainted and partially rooted with thick plugs of wool. It had obviously been rerooted before as the neck hole showed some minor damage caused by a needle.
Before doing this reroot, I repaired the holes caused by the thick plugs of wool, then used the head to test my 'interlocking plugs' method.
After that I removed the hair I applied for the test and did my first full anchor thread reroot on this head.
CG Blaze head reroot in progress
Blaze head reroot in progress, parting line still needs to be done.
CG Blaze head rerooted CG Blaze head rerooted CG Blaze head rerooted
Blaze head reroot completed, not yet styled.
This head is rooted using a wire needle and an anchor thread.
The hair used is saran hair from Dollyhair.com using 'Mocha Brown' for the base color, with some 'Cafe Latte Brown' for highlights.

Cloned CG Ice head

CG Ice head being rerooted CG Ice head being rerooted
Ice head being rerooted. The hair was styled repeatedly during rerooting, making it lay flat against the head.
CG Ice head rerooted
Ice head reroot completed and styled.
This head is rooted using a wire needle and an anchor thread.
The hair used is 'Golden Auburn' saran hair from Dollyhair.com.
I did not add any highlight colors to this hair as I figured the Golden Auburn color is already eye catching by itself.

Another cloned CG Ice head

CG Ice head rerooted CG Ice head rerooted CG Ice head rerooted
Ice head reroot completed, not yet styled.
This head is rooted using a wire needle and an anchor thread.
The hair used is saran hair from Dollyhair.com using 'Honey Blonde' for the base color, with some 'Sunlit Blonde' for highlights.



Making Your Own Reroot Needles

image of DIY reroot needle
I prefer to use reroot needles made out of folded metal wire, because these are very thin, very flexible and very cheap :-).
Here's how to make one:

Make a couple of these wire-needles so you have some spares available in case one should break.

The folded side acts as eye, you can widen the eye by bending the wires apart, but take care not to bend the wires at the very tip too often as that will cause the tip to break.

Making a wire needle bend inside a head

Bending the wire whilst feeding it through a hole is a bit of a trick:
when you hold a piece of metal wire between your index finger and the tip of your thumb and then squeeze your thumb, the wire will curve around the tip of your thumb.
So if you squeeze in the right places while feeding the wire-needle through, you can make the wire-needle curl towards the neck hole.



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