Sunday, January 30, 2011

BJD tip of the day: How to de-yellow resin

Resin, before and after, originally uploaded by alington.
About the above photo: Jolly Plus Jise (SD size Asian ball-jointed doll, I'm at least the third owner). The top arm, before its cleansing treatment. The bottom arm, after its treatment. Notice how the wrist ball joint is really normal-looking, even before treatment, as it is rarely exposed to light.

Resin yellows naturally, as it's exposed to light. It's just a part of the deal with ball-jointed dolls made of resin. Your brand new BJD will yellow--some more evenly than others--no matter what you do to prevent it. When you buy dolls from the secondary market, you might end up with a very even, very yellow doll, and not even realize what the doll's color was originally. This tutorial can help you use household supplies safely to get your doll back to normal.

See more photos here on Flickr.

Before you start, be sure to have the following supplies on hand:
  • a resin doll in white or normal skin (do not use tan or colored dolls, or vinyl BJD for this method)
  • a facial mask or, better, a respirator
  • Magic Eraser (cleansing sponge--generic is fine) and jewelry-grade sanding paper
  • oil-free, gentle, clear-color hand soap
  • sink
  • towel
  • acetone 
  • Mr Superclear UV protect matte spray
Work in a well-lit and well-ventilated area. Whenever you use a sanding device (Magic Eraser in this case) around resin, wear a mask. Tiny particles of resin will be released into the air, and you do not want to inhale any of those.

Please, don't take health risks for the sake of your doll collection!
Jise's neck piece. A few dents and nicks from tight stringing at the opening.
  1. Start with a unstrung doll. I'll go into how to unstring a doll in a later post on restringing. Any time you get your doll wet or damp, you should let the doll dry at least 24 hours, so canals for the elastic do not develop mold, and the elastic will dry completely and not wear prematurely.
  2. Put the doll's face plate aside, if it has a face-up. This technique will ruin your doll's face-up.
  3. I start at the top of the doll, with the head cap. Move the Magic Eraser in small, light circles and press lightly to moderately in an even motion, over the entire piece. Pay special attention to the edges of the piece, concentrating on any greenish or yellow areas. Don't push too hard; just use a constant general motion. You should see a fresh color of resin coming up from underneath.
  4. If you don't see results, try super fine jewelry-grade sanding paper. Skip (or use a very light touch on) the detailed pieces of the doll (breasts, for example!), however, or you may end up modifying your doll's sculpt!
  5. If you've finished the piece and there are stubborn areas left to be cleaned, you can take a small amount of acetone on cotton pad, and lightly wipe those area. Let it dry throughly, as acetone will soften the resin--even a toothpick can dent resin softened with acetone. 
  6. Be sure to keep your mask on during the entire sanding process, and also during the acetone removal.
  7. Start on the next piece--I usually start the bust next, using the same technique. Again, be careful not to "sand" the piece. "Polishing" is how I think of it. And remove anything that doesn't come off with Magic Eraser with acetone.
  8. After letting the pieces dry, you can go back over the dry pieces with more Magic Eraser as needed.
  9. You may spot some scratches or dents on your doll as you work--these can be removed with fine jewelry grade sand paper, but you might want to save this for after the doll is restrung.
  10. When you are finished, you will want to seal your doll with Mr Superclear UV Protect Matte spray. This will protect your work and your doll from further yellowing. Of course--your doll is still going to yellow. But still--every little bit helps! You can get fresh cans from Emory at the Junkyspot. Shake it well, spray outdoors in dry weather only, and use 2-3 light coats to prevent flagging. And don't forget to wear your mask. This is actually a resin spray--don't take risks for the sake of a hobby. That would be silly.
Visit my Flickr account for more photos of Jise's progress. It's relaxing and rewarding, though a little time consuming. And it will certainly help you bond with your doll, and get to know all the intricacies about her shape and size.

Finished piece. Notice the hot-glue marks at the upper torso joint.
Also, the smooth texture and peachy color of the resin after cleaning!


  1. VERY helpful! :D

  2. Thanks so much! The before and after comparison is great. =)

  3. This really does work. I used this technique on an older Luts Fairyland Lishe and it worked, she's brightened back up again- woo hoo!

  4. I'm so glad! I have a sort of greenish Soom Gem body that I need to do this on--hopefully it will work on greening resin as well. :)

  5. I tried doing this, but didn't see much result. Do you use the sanding sponge dry or wet? I was using it dry. I do think I probably didn't do it for long enough (just doing it on the headcap first, then tried the face and... nothing, was still a greenish yellow. How long do you generally do this on each piece?)

  6. A couple things: first, start with sanding paper, jewelry grade, that can be used wet. The sponge may give you some results, but since you're actually removing the top layer of resin, you may not want to use this technique on your doll's face. Instead, add red to the flesh undertone during the next face up, and that will balance the green, without risking an accidentally modded face. ;)
    This technique is really time consuming. It takes many hours--I want to say a single arm took me at least three hours to get noticeable results. And with resin that greens, well... I have a "beauty green" body to try right here. I'll try it and let you know if I can get this to work, lol! :)

  7. This works just fine - I've also heard of oxyclean or rubbing alcohol used. However, if you have a french resin doll, this doesn't restore the original color, it just lightens some of the yellowing. French resin is more translucent - the stain seems to seep all the way through.

  8. Thanks lot! I was dead worried when I found out that BJDs yellowed, my first one is being shipped in a matter of days and I was beyond scared. Thanks a bunch!

    1. Denesia, don't be scared by resin yellowing! It really is going to add to your BJD's beauty over time, I think. In many cases, I think it adds to your doll's character, especially in high-quality resin, I have to admit. It gives many dolls extra warmth. (I know, it sounds silly.) If you keep your dolls out of direct sunlight during the day, you should be OK. Also, be wary of clothing that has dark red or black fabric, since these stains can also leave staining on your doll--but you can remove these with Mr. Clean Magic Erasers, as well.

      Which doll are you expecting?? So exciting for you! :)

  9. So do you recommend only using a sponge if the doll is slightly yellowed? Above you mentioned using sandpaper for a greenish yellowed doll but the tutorial only mentions a magic sponge. I'm just wondering when you would use one over the other.

    1. Has your entire doll turned a greenish yellow? If so--it might be the resin itself. This technique might help, but there are some resins that tend to sort of green a little over time. I had a Soom that turned into a Beauty Green (from Beauty white) over just a matter of a few months--I think this was perhaps a flaw in the color of their resin.

      I'd suggest using sandpaper. If the doll's face-up still looks good, don't use too heavy of a touch. But if you plan to get a new face-up for your doll, too--or if you have, and the new face up looks a lot better than the body, then you have a pretty good chance of success. :)

      I'd also suggest to use a little bit of body blush as well--or a lot, if you dare. Sometimes trying to paint over the doll with the same shades of chalk can really help camouflage the shade of your doll, if you're unhappy with greening.

      With the beauty green body I had--I really ended up not being able to bond. I ended up selling my doll. Perhaps--if you love the doll's face or head sculpt--you could consider getting a new body? But many times, this technique will really help. You can start with Magic Eraser, and then try sandpaper, if that isn't working. Start with an arm or just a thigh, so you can see your results in comparison with the rest of the doll, too. Good luck!

    2. Oh no my doll is just a NS that's yellow. The head I got (same company) is a bit more pink since it's not been as exposed. I wanted to try this to kind of refresh the colour back to get them to be a closer match (I know it will never be 100% though!) so I was wondering what the difference is by using a Magic Sponge with non-acetone nail polish remover over sandpaper. You used magic sponge in the tutorial but recommended sandpaper for someone else. I assumed it was because their doll was Beauty Green so sandpaper was a more effective method for bringing their doll back to a nicer colour. :)

      I too had a couple of dolls that were Beauty Green, one more so than the other, and I ended up selling them because I just didn't like the colour they had become. Luckily one version was remade so I'm repurchasing her in a nicer White color that becomes more creamy when aged. :)

  10. Do yellow skin dolls yellow worse than normal skin dolls? I'm torn about what color to go with for my next purchase.

    1. Not necessarily. Do you have a brand in mind? I'd check owner photos of the brand you want to buy, in yellow skin tone, and see if you like the effect. French and translucent yellows more quickly than regular polyurethane, I think, but it really depends on the company. More expensive dolls really do tend to hold the color better--but even less expensive ones, such as Dollzone, do pretty well over time. Their normal yellow skin tone warms, rather than yellows, in my opinion, when it's kept out of direct sunlight.

      Since it all yellows eventually--don't let this discourage you from finding the doll you like best! A little magic eraser goes a long way!

  11. Is there a method for deyellowing a colored resin?

    1. It really depends on whether the colored resin is dyed all the way through or dipped. If it's dipped, I wouldn't use this method (nor would I clean it with alcohol or acetone), just because you might risk removing the outer colored layer.

      However, in the case with dolls colored all the way through, you can try this method--perhaps exchanging acetone for rubbing alcohol, and using a very light touch and Magic Eraser, instead of sand paper. Many companies will tell you how to care for their colored resin. I know Peak's Woods suggests leaving the seam lines, even, since removing the outer layer might expose marbeling and other discoloration.

      Honestly, and with my own tan dolls, I just leave them be. If there is a problem with staining, I will remove it gently with dry Magic Eraser, but I wouldn't recommend this technique with dolls that aren't white or light colored.


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