Guest Post: smoothing pony hair (nylon) in general by Tiffy

Cross posted from

I’ll try to get this all together in one go….

How to get from:




Most important

is that your flat iron has multiple heat settings.

That is 100% my secret. I lucked into the right flat iron about 15 years ago.

If it’s just on-off it’s most likely too hot. If it’s low-high, also tends to be too hot even on low.

Mine has 30 temp settings, but they are 1-30 not the actual temps so I can’t give any advice as to what temp I’m using on what hair, just what flat iron setting.

I generally stay on heat setting one (which on my particular iron is low enough to not melt Kanekalon, while also high enough to smooth nylon) unless a hair is particularly stubborn, then I will turn it up by one dot on the dial at a time, testing it every time it reaches temp again.

Very rarely does my iron melt hair but it has happened with the color-change streak on a Splash n Color Teresa and with Creata doll hair*. Nylon can handle a little more heat but is also very willing to take a shape, so doesn’t need much.

Mini Tip:  I’ve found that wet hair smooths out more easily than dry. The steam, I guess. As long as your flat iron is set right for your fiber the hair will not melt, so you can do it dry if you want, but wet goes better.

Second biggest tip is that Amazon thinks I have a cat and a dog but I don’t.

That’s because I use pet combs and brushes on doll and pony hair.

Metal tines, as long as they are smooth (I had some combs that were punched from a sheet of metal and the tines were squared off and sharp) are best for plastic hair fibers because plastic combs have seam lines on the tines that can snag and tear hair.


A cat slicker brush like this is best for regular brushing because, just like a detangling brush for people, the wires will bend and let go of a knot instead of ripping out the hair.


@firespirited? told me about this type of steel comb and it is amazing. The tines don’t bend [on mine] and the comb hasn’t warped at all even with repeated use and some heavy tangles. You can turn the comb on it’s end and use the last tine as a pick when needed.


And this exact flea comb has been MVP. I picked it up relatively recently and have been amazed by it’s durability (only recently have the tines started to bend a little and that’s after roughly 300 dolls and ponies and pulling pretty hard on some of them). It also does some kind of magic on doll hair.

The spacing on this comb is also so fine that it can pull out more dirt than a soap and water wash did. It’s excellent at removing lint, bug parts (had centipede legs and dead ants that were falling apart in pony hair recently), and most animal hairs as long as they aren’t aligned with the fibers. Have to get those with tweezers.

Often I’ve gotten through the rough comb out with the steel comb and the fibers felt like they might need hit with the flat iron, but after making a few passes with this flea comb it’s perfectly smooth and doesn’t need heat anyway.

Leading the flat iron with this comb (as in having the iron right behind the comb while flattening and combing at the same time) has helped a ton with smoothing out the tips of the hairs. Without doing that, there’s usually an inch or so of bad scruff left over after flattening. This takes it down to about a quarter inch which is a lot less loss after trimming.

(Amazon affiliated links to the brush, steel comb, and flea comb.)

Third biggest is conditioner.

Even if the hair doesn’t feel very dry, a little time in some conditioner will make it flatten more easily.

Any conditioner will help, but some do work better than others. I ran out of some Herbal Essences conditioner and bought a GALLON of Mane n Tail. Mane n Tail has been kind to MY hair, but wasn’t as effective on doll/pony hair as the Herbal Essences. Suave is another brand that’s worked well.

I’ve also had very good results from an after-coloring treatment mask from Garnier and tend to save that one for the worst feeling hairs.

Also important:

Realistic expectations.

The hair won’t feel perfect after flattening. Most of it will feel really great, but the ends will generally still be crinkled up a bit. That means the very ends of the hair will feel bad, still, and so will any shorter hair with the end being up in the main uh….. I don’t know clump of hair? You’ll be able to feel it if you run your hand down the hair. You can ignore those, pluck or trim them, whatever you want.

You may also have to condition and flatten multiple times to get the results you’re looking for. Don’t be discouraged if the first flattening doesn’t get you there.

Here’s a badly matted Disney Animator’s Collection Rapunzel with the left side combed out:


And after the first run through the flat iron:


And here after three or four conditionings and flattenings (I don’t remember exactly how many):


As for how

The order in which I do things changes depending on the state of the hair. If it’s very tangled and matted I usually won’t try to wash it until I’ve detangled it with the steel comb, because it’s difficult to rinse again and I don’t like working with soapy-wet hair.

If it’s particularly gross and dirty, though, I’ll go ahead and wash it because I also don’t like to touch nasty, or sticky hair. I use dish soap. It’s effective on a lot of different kinds of yuck and won’t harm the doll/pony or it’s hair.

Assuming the hair is too icky to touch comfortably:

– Wash and rinse, followed by a towel drying (or laying out to dry if I’m doing a LOT of them at once) and then set to work on the tangles with the steel comb.

– Starting at the ends comb the hair, slowly working your way up to the root, very carefully, gently picking apart mats with the wider-end of the steel comb or the end tine on a metal-tined hair pick or rat-tailed comb (there weren’t any rat-tailed combs when I went shopping for one so I got a pick and it works fine) until all of the major tangles are gone.

– Tip to root, very carefully with the finer end of the steel comb.

– Tip to root, very carefully with the flea/nit comb.

– This is where I generally apply conditioner. You can either apply it directly or if I’m doing a lot of Barbies all at once, I like to put some cool water in a dish, mix in some conditioner, and lay them so their hair is all in the same dish. That saves some product. Then let that sit however long you want. There is no too long, don’t worry even if it dries in the hair. It’ll rinse out fine. Then rinse well when you’re ready.

Mini Tip: Some people will tell you to flat iron the hair with the conditioner in. You can do that if you want. I haven’t found it makes much of a difference unless the hair is desperately dry, and in that case I’ve found it more effective to apply a very thin coating of petroleum jelly (put a little-little bit in your palm, rub it around until your hands are just a bit greasy but not very, run the hair between your hands a few times) and heat that in, as opposed to regular hair conditioner.

– Towel dry, and while it’s still damp, section it out and hit it with the flat iron. BE CAREFUL flat ironing wet or damp hair because you will drop boiling hot water into your own lap. Just be cautious. Keep a towel in your lap.

I generally flat iron from root to tip, leading the iron with the flea/nit comb. This works out fine if you’ve detangled properly.

– Repeat conditioning through flat ironing steps as needed. The first flat ironing is generally not enough when the hair was badly matted.


*For Creata brand doll hair, carefully detangle, comb, and wrap with your curlers, put the head in a plastic baggie then- or directly into- a mug of water, and put it on a candle warmer for a few hours.

Tiffy restores dolls and ponies at