Sunday, 21 October 2012

Barbie Green Ear Syndrome

Multiply is closing it's Social Networking & Groups sections so the Dolls More Dolls Group I belong to is migrating to Facebook.

As a result I'm frantically trying to remove all my pictures & posts from there, to here. I've just found a post I made a few years back about Barbie's Green Ear Syndrome and how to fix it, I think it's worth repeating and saving here even if just for my own memory prompting!

Copy of Original Post on Multiply, from 2009:

After reading Russ's comment ( about how easy it is to remove Green Ear Syndrome)
 I decided to research this issue and have found some interesting information on how to restore a Barbie suffering from this back to her former glory...

I have also discovered a forum on Ebay where members give each other tips etc and show pics of before and after's the link!

 The most common area for the Syndrome to manifest is the ear area, I'll explain why later.

If left untreated it will spread to other areas of the face, making it an even more time consuming process to remove. When this happens most people will throw the doll away or if they are "Ooak Minded" they'll give her a new look, but I've discovered that you really don't need to and that with a bit (ok a lot!) of effort you can can her looking almost as good as if it had never happened!

The head below has excessive damage, and is very similar in disbursement to the Casey doll I recently got to work on, more about that below... It's a hard one to fix but as I've discovered, it is not impossible.

The picture below as well as the pictures I've used above were found on the Ebay Forum I mentioned above, the one below shows an incredibly rapid removal taking place, I can't help wondering if it has been sped up with UV or something else I do not know about...

Don't expect your removal process to be as fast as the one above, but after 24 hours, you will certainly have signs that it is working, just keep removing and re-applying your zit cream and remember - have patience!

Comments from Multiply Members:

kitschartherb wrote on Jan 16, '09

ok so here's what you do...
First and foremost, if you are displaying your Barbie dolls, be sure to take the earrings out of their ears and only reinsert them on special occasions, such as when you are displaying the doll, or giving a tour of your collection. The same, by the way, is true of any metal jewelry that may have come with any of your vintage dolls, such as wristbands, necklaces, or anything else.

Do not, under any circumstances, attempt to clean up your doll with a large variety of harsh chemicals. The odds are pretty good that they will damage not only your doll's materials, but will also not fix the green ear problem. Worst-case scenario, you will end up with a doll with green ears and discolored face, neck, and other extremities.

Get your hands on one of two products...either Clearasil or "Remove-Zit", (made by Twin Pines of Maine) a product with organic peroxide that is intended specifically for treating plastics safely. Do not use both simultaneously on the problem spots in the mistaken belief that double stitched holds better. You will need to decide on one compound to use.

Keep in mind that this is a time-consuming effort. It will not undo the damage that built up over years overnight. Instead, be prepared to have this process take weeks or maybe even months!

Gently clean the ears of your doll from any debris that may have accumulated.

Using a toothpick, apply a thin coating of the product of your choice to the affected area. Since the products have some noxious smells after all, they are chemical compounds be sure to work in a well-ventilated area and do not smoke or have any open flames nearby!

Once you have applied the product to the affected ear, allow it to dry. This may take a couple of days. You will know that the product has completely dried when it has left behind a hard, shell-like coating over the treated area.

Remove this shell-like substance. With it, you will also be removing some of the green discoloration.Repeat the process until the green is gone.

Things to remember ... Extra Strength Clearasil will remove most of the green (but sometimes the skin dye, too) by leaching out the colour (The active ingredient in Clearasil is organic peroxide).

The green may appear to get worse before it gets better, as the green inside Barbie's head is leached out, and becomes visible.

Before you choose one approach to the 'green ear' problem, it's not wise to mix treatments if one doesn't work. (The plastic can turn brown.)

Because the Clearasil may leach out dyes as well, It is advisable to apply the Clearasil with a toothpick or cotton bud, just to the stain and avoiding any painted areas, or "just fine" skin-colored areas.

This may not be a 100% back the way she was fix as the general consensus of most doll collectors is the green cannot ever be totally removed...but from the before and after pictures I have just been looking at I take the opposite view!

carnice05 wrote on Jan 16, '09

Hi herbs thanks for giving us this info, does the same apply to dolls with blue/green knees and on legs?

kitschartherb wrote on Jan 16, '09
Hi're welcome!
I may be able to answer you better if you tell me what the green and blue is from?
My guess is it's fabric dye...but let me know and I'll let you know if I can!!
oh yes that reminds me....I have a top tip for stopping that from happening in the first place...hold up while I go blog it! lol

twosharppencils wrote on Jan 16, '09
Obviously has expensive taste this one! Cheap gold does that to your ears! However this infection has been neglected and has spread to the eyes and hair line. Give it 2 weeks and the affected areas will drop off/out!

(I do not have any medical training whatsoever) 

weebairns wrote on Jan 18, '09
Great info here Herbs, one of my Tressys has a green ear, I'll try it out, thanks


Obviously this post has been copied in it's entirety here, with comments from Multiply, I did this because I think the comment section is also of benefit as since I posted this and duh totally forgot about it, I have discovered how to fix the problem John refers to and also how to dye the dolls skin to match the "Before Green Ear" colour, but these will have to be posts for another day!

*** Update *** Points to note & Corrections to my original post***

Btw,  This issue does not only effect barbie Dolls, any doll can suffer from this "syndrome" it happens because the doll had been "wearing" metal earrings or jewellery etc for several years, and it causes a chemical reaction between the metal's elements and the vinyl of the doll.

It is named after Barbie Dolls as Barbie Dolls were originally sold with metal earrings in the 1950's and 1960's and after many years of the doll wearing them the chemical reaction appears.

also, the reason it is called "Green Ear Syndrome" is because it is commonly seen in the ear area of the dolls, due to the chemical reaction starting around the earring and ear area and then as time goes on and left untreated, it spreads across the head and face of the doll.

In Vintage Barbie Dolls which have been well loved and well played with, any jewellery and especially the earrings get lost, and therefore the syndrome does not manifest itself.

Doll Collectors and little girls who have grown into adults who could not part with their  Barbie Doll from childhood, have found and reported this syndrome and I suspect this may be part of the reason why Mattel no longer sell the dolls with metal jewellery.

If you know how to it's easy to fix, but does take quite a while, obviously this depends on the size and depth of colour of the "syndrome".

It's also worth noting that extended use of Benzoyl Peroxide may result in the doll losing some of it's original "flesh colouring" this again is an easy fix but again it is not a quick one, I'll tell you about that in a few minutes...

The other point I want to make is my original suggestion of getting your hands on one of two products; my suggestion was you use either Clearasil or "Remove-Zit", (made by Twin Pines of Maine), these products as far as I can tell are great for the job, but the truth of the matter is all you need is a acne cream which has a Benzoyl Peroxide content of at least 10%, as it is the Benzoyl Peroxide that works on the acne or in this case the "Green Ear Syndrome".

My own preference for acne cream that I use for clothing stains on dolls, pen marks and yes even Green Ear Syndrome is PanOxyl Benzoyl Peroxide 10% - this can be bought very cheaply on Ebay and well many other websites and of course Chemists/ pharmacies will stock it or something like it.

As a rule, make sure you read the ingredients and that the acne cream has a content of at least 10%.

Also, a spell in The Sun after the doll has been coated in the cream speeds up the process considerably.
I place mine in a window, as The Sun's rays reflecting on the glass seem to magnify the power of the UV / Benzoyl Peroxide reaction somehow!

Something else I want to point out is not all doll vinyl will react the same, Mattel dolls have plastic that is not damaged by the use of Benzoyl Peroxide, but other dolls might have - the best way to make sure you do not do more harm than good is to test an area of the doll that is not noticeable first, leave the cream on over night and check in the morning, any signs that the vinyl is reacting badly - DO NOT USE this method  or take the doll to someone who knows how to do this for you if you are in any way unsure.

It's a good idea to test the doll, wash the acne cream off then wait a week, checking on the doll periodically for signs of damage before continuing treatment.

Another point to remember is: You will need to use the acne cream inside the doll's head as well as on the outside, as this syndrome causes the entire plastic to be discoloured, not only the outside, and make sure you remove it totally before checking on the doll and deciding if she needs another course of the treatment.

The last point to remember is: Having treated the doll for Green Ear syndrome and even re dying her flesh tone back - NEVER PUT HER METAL EARRINGS BACK IN!!

After all, what's the point fixing her if you're going to give her the same problem again, and trust me after spending a week or more fixing her, you won't really want to do it again for some time at least -  You can place them in her ears for photos etc. just ALWAYS REMEMBER to remove them afterwards  NEVER STORE ANY OF YOUR DOLLS WITH METAL EARRINGS IN THEIR EARS, the best way to treat this syndrome is to prevent it after all!!

Here's an after pic' of 2 dolls I treated for Green Ear Syndrome with PanOxyl Benzoyl Peroxide 10%, the acne cream bleached off a lot of the doll's original "flesh colour and as I was treating them for a Flickr friend I felt it was only right to ask before I moved onto the next fix I'm going to tell you about:

I'll find the original shots of these two from when they were send to me, Casey on the right was badly discoloured with green, so much so that it had also spread to her nose, Twiggy was also pretty bad, but the area affected seemed to be more localised to her ear and side of her face.

The removal process also removed some of the original skin tone, but after a "Dye Bath" (details to follow) it's not so apparent. It did however take more than one dipping to bring the colour back to their cheeks, and as these are both Vintage Mattel Dolls, and do not belong to me, I had to ask permission to do this first.

You can see from the photo that Casey's cheeks are slightly lighter than the rest of her face, this is due to the fact that the Green Ear Syndrome was really intense in this area and had worked so hard on dying her skin that it had itself removed the flesh tone, so my adding the Benzoyl Peroxide on top of that only helped to bleach it further.

The upside was that Kyle (Their owner) had already decided that they were most likely unfix-able and therefore scrap heads, so anything I could think of that might work on them he was happy enough to let me try... this was risky however as it was the first time I had used this technique also!

Having said that the fix worked pretty well, and I also got to add to my knowledge and on a subject I'm seriously interested in - Doll Restoration!

Ok, so here's a brief idea of how to dye the flesh tone back, I'll write a full (step by step) guide on how I did it another time as this post is really all about "The Green"!!

You;ll need some Rit Dye, it costs a bit but it goes a long way and is well worth it, also it is the only dye I know of that will dye the colour of plastic. You'll need 2 different colours and you'll have to mix them together first ,bearing in mind, I was dealing with doll heads and not the whole doll, the quantities of each that I was working with were tiny!

Then you'll need to soak the dolls in a solution of the dye and warm water, for a few seconds at a time, (building up the colour slowly as you go ) you need a lot of patience and you may even need to allow them to dry, mix up a second batch and repeat the process, depending on how bleached the doll is.

Casey's head was a little too dark, when I'd finished but thankfully the dye colour fades very slightly after it drys and continues to fade over the next few weeks... and there you go, it's not really all that difficult - either the removal or the dye bath, the really harrowing thing for me was that the heads did not belong to me and I'd never done either technique before!

Watch out for a post soon bearing the title "How to fix faded doll skin" or words to that effect if you'd like full details of how to mix up a dye bath and sort out your dolls.