Emberly and Roaralai’s Extreme Makeover!

Oooo, I am so excited! Why? Because it’s time for Emberly and Roaralai’s big reveal!

Emberly and Roaralai's Extreme Makeover.

Emberly and Roaralai made their debut on this blog a couple of weeks ago. They are from Mattel’s new doll series, Cave Club (you can read my review of them here: Doll Review: Clave Club).

It’s quite a detailed review, I admit, so here’s a brief summary of my thoughts:

Emberly and Roaralai are adorable. I especially love their prehistoric theme!

However, I’m not a fan of their hairstyles. They’re too bold for my taste.

So, after posing for lots and lots of pictures, these lovely gals went to the dolly salon for a re-root!

Ready to see how they turned out? Click the button below!

I realize this is a total 180 from how they looked before, and some of you are probably thinking, “Whoa, this is too toned down!” Let me reiterate that Roaralai and Emberly weren’t ugly before–heavens, no! I just didn’t like their wild coiffures.

Now, let me show you how I changed their neon updos to these simpler styles.

Emberly and Roaralai’s Extreme Makeover:

For this re-root, I bought four hanks of hi-temp nylon doll hair from The Doll Planet.

Nylon doll hair.

Emberly is getting a blend of Elsa Light Blonde and Buffy Sandy Blonde. For Roaralai, I picked Velma Auburn Brown and Rogue Auburn Red.

If you’ve ever tried styling or restoring doll hair, you’ll know that hair straighteners and curling irons are a big no-no. They will burn that factory hair to a crisp!

Hi-temp nylon hair, however, can take heat up to 400 degrees. This opens up a whole new world of styling options and is why I opted for this type of hair.

So far, my endeavors in doll customizing have been limited to body swaps and simple repaints. I’ve never re-rooted a doll–ever!

Sister, on the other hand, has done many re-roots and offered her services in exchange for Disney Store’s new Classic Wendy–a deal I happily accepted! All I had to do was prepare the dolls.

Prepping The Dolls:

Step 1: Remove the hair.

The first step in re-rooting is to cut off the doll’s original hair. I want to keep Emberly’s bangs, so I took a few close-up pictures to use a reference later on.

Preparing Emberly for reroot.
Fingers crossed I can replicate this later🤞.

Then, I removed her head (sorry Emberly!) and cut away her hair. 

Am I the only one who feels really guilty at this stage?

I cut most of her hair with regular scissors before switching to a pair of tiny sewing snips to cut the remaining bits super short. 

After clipping the hair down to nibs, I dug out the glue securing the plugs inside her head.

Step 2: Scrape the dried glue from inside the head.

I know I took pictures of this process, but those images somehow vanished. So, I’m going to try and describe it the best I can.

Compared to Barbie, Cave Club dolls have tiny neck holes. I was a little concerned I wouldn’t be able to get the glue out at all!

While it did take some time and patience, I managed to pluck out every last gluey hair clump.

A Few Things I Learned Along The Way:

Use small tools!

I have a wide variety of craft tools, but only two did a decent job of pulling out the plugs: a pair of long, jewelry tweezers and a curved-nosed hemostat.

Both of these tools can be found at Hobby Lobby. The tweezers are with the jewelry (obviously), and the hemostat is in the hobby section near the model cars and dioramas.

Warm the doll’s head beforehand:

I did not warm Emberly’s head before scraping out the plugs. This resulted in a small crack forming along her scalp from me squeezing the plastic. Thankfully, the crack wasn’t deep and was easily fixed with a little super glue.

After narrowly dodging a craftastrophie with Emberly, I made sure to warm Roaralai’s head in a bowl of warm water, which made removing the plugs ten times easier. The plastic stayed pliable, and the glue fell out faster.

Step 3: Clean the doll’s scalp.

Once the dolls’ heads were free of glue and bits of fuzz, I used acetone to clean their scalps.

I would say this step is optional; however, the tops of Emberly and Roaralai’s heads are painted pink and purple to match their bright locks. Since I chose more neutral hair colors, I had no choice but to remove the factory paint and repaint their heads.

Painting the doll’s scalp to match the hair will help hide bald spots.

Using regular acrylic paint mixed with a little Mod Podge, I repainted Emberly’s scalp Goldenrod and Roaralai’s Burnt Sienna. Adding a little Mod Podge to the paint helps to seal it and keep it from cracking during the re-root.

And with that, my work here is done (for now, at least). Time to hand these girls off to Sister!

The Re-Root:

There are various ways to re-root a doll. Sister uses the most common method, involving a special tool called a re-rooting tool.

Doll hair suppliers sell a professional version of this tool, but you can also make one yourself–which is what Sister did.

Homemade re-rooting tool for doll hair.

All you need is a needle, a pair of wire cutters, and an Exacto knife handle.

How To Make A Re-Rooting Tool:

  1. Remove the blade from an Exacto knife.
  2. Slide the needle into the handle with the sharp end pointed down and the eye facing up.
  3. Tighten the handle until the needle is good and secure–you don’t want it wiggling around during the re-root!
  4. Use your wire cutters to clip the eye of the needle at an angle, making sure one side is longer than the other. The needle’s eye should look like a lopsided pitchfork (see picture above). Having prongs like this will make hooking the hair and pushing it through the plastic easier.
Tip: You can also use a cork stopper to hold the needle. Just push the sharp end into the cork.

Now that you have a re-rooting tool, you can begin inserting strands of hair into the doll’s head.

Here are Emberly and Roaralai about halfway through the re-root:

Rerooting Emberly and Roaralai.

This is a far cry from their final look. Still, I can already tell this makeover is going to be a success!

Once all the plugs were in, I squeezed several globs of Fabri-Tac inside the dolls’ heads and rubbed it around with a Q-Tip.

This is very important as it keeps the hair from falling out when being brushed or styled. Most doll artists choose Fabri-Tac because it’s water and heat resistant and stays somewhat flexible after drying.

When I was sure every strand of hair was covered in glue, I left the dolls to dry for about 48 hours. Now these girls are ready to style!

Well, almost…

Check out all that hair!

Don’t panic if your doll looks like this after being re-rooted. The hair just needs a little heat treatment to coax it into lying flat.

Since I don’t have to worry about Emberly and Roaralai’s hair melting, I’m using a heating pad and hair straightener for this step (a trick I learned from watching The Doll Planet’s tutorials).

Wrapping the dolls in a heating pad and letting them “bake” for about 40 minutes got rid of most of the poof. The few bumps that remained were easily pressed out with my hair straightener.

Not comfortable using a hair straightener on your dolls? No problem! Hot water works just as good. It’s also safe for any kind of doll hair, even factory hair. Just arrange your doll’s hair in the direction you want it to lay, then stand her in the sink and pour hot water over her. Give the hair a few hours to dry and you’re good to go!

Alright, now we can start styling. I just need to find my scissors…

Two Super Simple Doll Hairstyles:

Warning: I have zero imagination when it comes to hair. My idea of a perfect updo is a ponytail—maybe a bun (but only if I’m feeling particularly adventurous). So, the styles I’m about to show you are so easy even a total hair klutz (like myself) can pull them off😉.

Emberly’s hairdo is very straightforward. The hardest part is cutting her bangs.

First, I separated her bangs from the rest of her hair and also gave her a middle part. Then, with the bangs facing forward, I put her back in the heating pad for another 30-40 minutes to set the style.

Once they were pointing in the right direction, I very slowly snipped the bangs until they resembled her previous cut.

This is for sure not the professional way to give your doll bangs. The correct way involves rooting a little more hair into the forehead. Nevertheless, this gave me the effect I wanted and was way easier.

Call me crazy, but I adore Emberly with super long hair!

She looks like little Rapunzel😍!

But I’m afraid keeping it this length would be impractical. So, I cut it. Now her hair falls just below her knees.

I think Emberly’s new golden tresses complement her sweet persona much more than the hot pink crimps she once sported.

Although I’m tempted to leave her like this with loose, straight hair, I don’t want her to look completely unfashionable. So, I gave her a foolproof style: a ponytail and long side-braid.

Cave Club Reroot: Emberly.

Seriously, people–you can’t go wrong with a ponytail! And the side braid adds a touch of flair, hopefully, keeping her from looking too plain jane.

Custom Cave Club Doll: Emberly.
Don’t you just love my constantly changing backgrounds🤣!

Now that Emberly is done (and looking fabulous😉), we can turn our attention to Roaralai.

I knew from the get-go that Roaralai needed soft, bouncy curls. The fastest way to achieve this would be to use a curling iron. Unfortunately, I don’t own one. So, she’s getting a mini-perm via hot water and straws.

Like Emberly, Roaralai’s hair had to have some TLC before styling. I used my flat iron to remove the poof and set her part. I also trimmed the back of her hair, giving her a few layers and face-framing bangs–or rather, that was my goal. The jury’s out on whether I achieved it.

After that, I grabbed some thin coffee straws, divided her hair into sections, rolled it around the straws, then pinned it with bobby pins.

Next, I set the style with boiling water and let it dry overnight before removing the “curlers.” Here’s the result:


Poor Roaralai is a frizz factory! Definitely not what I had in mind!

A hot water rinse and some combing helped. Still, I’m not too pleased with the outcome.

Either the coffee stirrers I used were too thin or I mucked up somewhere during the process (which is totally possible). Whatever the case, this must be fixed.

So, after straightening her hair back out, I re-curled it this time using larger straws.

Curling doll hair.
Doll perm, take two!

Success! Light, airy waves just like I imagined!

Cave Club Re-Root: Roaralai.

Curling Roaralai’s hair using hot water brought back some of the puffiness I’d worked so hard to remove, so I gave her a couple of side braids then tied those braids in a bun in the back. Now we can see her cute face!

Custom Cave Club Doll: Roaralai.

I don’t know if this is a legitimate style or just something I made up, but I think it’s pretty!

Custom Roaralai doll.

Oops–I almost forgot about her eyebrows! Those have to be fixed pronto!

A detail (or “liner”) paintbrush was the perfect size for this job. I painted both eyebrows reddish-brown paint then used a dark brown paint pen to recreate the striped effect she had before.

Finally, I sealed everything with a coat of Mod-Podge.

Since Emberly’s light brown eyebrows look fine with her blonde hair, I left them as is.

Custom Cave Club Doll Emberly.

I also kept the markings on the girls’ faces. Hey, I don’t want to lose all their prehistoric character!

In the end, I’d say Emberly and Roaralai’s extreme makeover turned out fabulous.

Custom Cave Club Doll Roaralai.

Having a couple of dolls with “luxury hair” to experiment with is exciting. Who knows? Maybe my styling skills will expand beyond ponytails and braids.

Custom Cave Club Dolls: Emberly and Roaralai.

I hope you all enjoyed seeing my latest custom doll project. Now, I’d better sign off because I have some hungry kittens in the next room!

Meet my babies!

If you follow us on Instagram, then you already know about my new charges.

When these kittens came to us, they were circling the drain. The longer we observe them, the more we see signs that they were alone for at least a day–maybe longer😟.

We’d assumed the mother had abandoned them, but now we’re suspicious she was killed and the cat seen near the nest was an older sibling or stalking tomcat.

They’re not out of the woods yet, but I expect all to survive. Besides crafting (and buying dolls😉), saving and rehabilitating animals seems to be my calling in life.

Are you considering doing a re-root? I highly recommend The Doll Planet. They have a wide variety of doll hair options as well as helpful video tutorials with re-rooting and styling tips. (This is not a sponsored link–just a friendly tip😉.
Custom Cave Club Dolls. @pixiedustdolls.


  1. I like the new look you created for the dolls. I think you are right. One can see their faces better.

    1. Author

      Thank you! I’m very happy with how they turned out😁.

  2. I have to admit that your girls do look nice with their new hair. I’ve never done a reroot either, and I’m nervous about it. Well, mainly I’m worried about being able to keep all the bunches of hair to root, the same size.

    Have you ever watched the Kitten Lady on YouTube? She specializes in taking in “at-risk” kittens and nursing them to health.

    1. Author

      I know what you mean! Sister assured me that re-rooting isn’t as hard as it looks. Still, I felt more comfortable paying her than trying to do it myself. She knows all the tricks, like keeping the hair wet, the right amount of strands to pick up, and the correct ways to insert the needle.

      It’s funny you mention Kitten Lady because I was just on her site reading about trimming kitten claws! Yes, my mother and I love her content—both videos and articles. She has great info!

    1. Author

      Thank you! I think they turned out pretty cute too😁.

      Yes, OMG dolls look like fun—unfortunately, our Walmart never stocked the last series😒. It seems that they’re having trouble getting items from the manufacturers (problems with shipping, I believe). Hopefully, they’ll get whatever it is resolved before Christmas.

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