Barbie, Clearasil and ‘Green Ear’

Note: This article was written many years ago. There may be new, better products available now.

clearasil - a fix for barbie green ears

I have a great, vintage Barbie® doll in a red swimsuit and her original box, complete with stand. However, Barbie had green spots–stains in (not just on) the plastic–where her earrings used to be. It was a developing tragedy as the green spread a little more each year.

Then, I read that Extra Strength Clearasil will remove most of the green (but sometimes the skin dye, too) by leaching out the color. To the best of my knowledge, nothing will remove all of the green discoloration. The active ingredient is Clearasil’s organic peroxide.

The cleaning process can be slow, taking up to a month, sometimes longer. First, I scanned Barbie’s head so that I’d have a permanent record.

I changed the Clearasil every few hours, after each application had dried. I don’t know if this makes any difference. The most dramatic reduction of green appeared after the first application, in about two hours.

I’ve heard that the green may get worse before it gets better, as the green inside Barbie’s head is leached out, and becomes visible. We’ll see.

And, 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, I was advised to apply the Clearasil with a toothpick or Q-Tip, just to the stain and avoiding any painted areas, or “just fine” skin-colored areas.

But remember, most doll restorers say that the green stains cannot be fully removed from most dolls.

Important: I accept no responsibility for results you may have, so please test the Clearasil on a not-important part of any stained doll (or other vinyl item) that you want to clean. This is strictly for items where the staining is so severe, you have nothing to lose, and safer choices haven’t worked.

Also, Twin Pines of Maine makes “Remove-Zit”, a product with organic peroxide that is intended specifically for treating plastics safely.

I would not consider selling this Barbie, and I’m delighted to be able to (mostly) restore her so that I can display and enjoy her!

Disclaimer: This information is provided as a guideline, not as specific advice for your dolls. The author assumes no responsibility for your repair & restoration efforts, and speaks only from personal experience, providing opinions about repairs.

If you have any questions, please consult a qualified doll hospital.

Related Links: (From the original article – links may not be current.)

And, if you want to customize your Barbie–new hair, different makeup, rebend her arms, and more–there are the books on this subject, listed at right.

Remember that the BarbieTM name has been trademarked and is very protected by the Mattel company. Instead, use the phrase “fashion doll” when you’re searching for more information.

This website has no connection with the Mattel Corporation.

Advice about fashion dolls, including BarbieTM, is provided as personal opinion. When restoring valuable dolls, always consult a professional before attempting any repair.

The name “Barbie” is a registered trademark of the Mattel Corporation.

Let’s see… did I say enough about trademarks, Barbies and green ear to protect myself..? *LOL*

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Altered Dolls

Not quite an altered doll
Not exactly altered, and not exactly a doll…

Altered dolls usually (but not always) start with ready-made, store-bought dolls. They may be modified or even deconstructed to make a different art doll or mixed-media figure.

These can include anything from themed, customized BarbieTM dolls, to Raggedy Ann gone wild, to McD’s doll toys that are made into jewelry or chess pieces.

However, that definition of altered dolls is the tip of the iceberg.  For many doll artists, “altered dolls” mean anything that even vaguely resembles a doll.  This takes altered dolls into paper arts, mixed media, and beyond.

My doll in the photo above is from around 2002 or so.  She’s more an assemblage than an altered doll.  My initial concept was to create a futuristic Kachina doll.

The face and feet were cast from existing dolls, using my mold process.  The torso/body was a clear plastic cube filled with opalescent Easter grass.  The arms were a single lucite rod, decorated with feathers.

(Thread didn’t attach the feathers as well as I’d hoped, so the thread was also glued in place.)

That doll was small enough to sit in my hand.  (She was one of several I made at the time, and all dolls from that series are now in private collections.)

Here’s what’s important about altered dolls: There are no limits to what you can do!

December 2011 update

If you’re intrigued by altered dolls, here are some more recent altered art doll articles to inspire you. (If any of these links are broken when you visit, let me know in a comment. Thanks!)

C. Dianne Zweig – Kitsch ‘n Stuff: Altered Doll Assemblages: Using

Altered Doll Assemblages: Using Up Your Vintage Junk. Creating Dolls Out of Vintage Junk I would love to be able to try my hand at making Altered Doll Assemblages out of vintage odds and ends. Like many of you who are

Dianne’s illustrations look similar to the altered dolls and assemblages we used to make when I taught at Artfest. They’re quirky and strange and generally wonderful!

For me, those represent some of the roots of assemblage and altered dolls, going back to the Dada movement and maybe earlier.

Next, scroll down this linked article to see a few interesting altered paper dolls. I think this concept could be taken in very wild directions.

inkspired musings


4, 9am – 4pm. I had a fun discovery today -. several completed altered paper dolls! 2 of them are Halloween themed, but I’ll still put them out. Here are 3 that I have scanned. The others need to be resized, etc. and I will share!

If you like those altered paper dolls, you may enjoy the next examples of altered paper dolls:

Jumbled Crafts: Altered Dolls at Craft Room


Well I have never done anything like this before but it was so much fun. I didn’t know where to start really but the ideas just kept coming as I went along. What a great idea it is to alter a paper doll and I am pleased

And another:

Sue’s Art of Craft: My First Altered Paper Doll – Love It!
My First Altered Paper Doll – Love It! This month’s challenge at Craft Room is to make an Altered Paper Doll. Click the link in the sidebar for Craft Room Challenge to take part. I’ve never tried anything like this before and must

Next, some art deco-style altered dolls at Etsy. What intrigues me is that the faces look like the ones I’ve made since 2002 (maybe earlier) using homemade molds. (The same kinds of molds I used for the futuristic kachina, above.)

I love seeing my ideas spread throughout the dollmaking community! (If you have other ways to use cast faces or other doll parts, please let me know. Leave a comment below.)

thechildrensgardenandseedcompany: My Latest Altered Dolls on Etsy


Create a garden that will delight children. Become sensitive to what delights children- smells, textures, tastes…Create a place for adventures! Friday, October 28, 2011. My Latest Altered Dolls on Etsy

Now we shift to another extreme, a downright creepy altered doll. It’s one of Natasha Morgan’s stylish dolls, inspired by the DC Comic Book character, the two-faced Mr. Dent. (However, it’s not one of the creepiest dolls I found, when I was searching for altered dolls to share with you.)

Natasha Morgan Art Dolls: Harvey – A Two Faced Altered Doll Portrait


Harvey – A Two Faced Altered Doll Portrait. Named by my Husband after the Two Faced vintage DC Comic Book character Mr Dent, I was inspired to make Harvey by a challenge I was asked to take part in on behalf of my

If you liked that doll, be sure to see more at Zuzu’s Alter It Monthly.

And finally, returning to altered paper dolls and doll-related paper arts, here are some interesting and elaborate dolls & figures. (The website has music that starts playing on its own. If you’re at work, turn down your speakers.)



Hi Betty, I’m so excited about your Matchbox Dolls tutorial…thank you so much! 🙂 I just love them!

I could have continued this list for pages & pages, but I think it’s enough of an overview to give you some inspiration and starting points.

The concept of “altered dolls” is huge. From altered children’s dolls (plastic, etc.) to altered paper dolls, to assemblages and found art, to cast elements and odd bits & pieces… there’s a lot to play with!

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