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Friday, July 5, 2013

Face Up Removal: Windsor and Newton vs Isopropyl Alcohol vs Nail Polish Remover

I've removed a lot of face ups in my short time in the hobby (I've been around for about 4 years). I've used nail polish remover, Winsor and Newton (referred to for the rest of the post as W&N), and various strengths of rubbing alcohol to remove face ups.

I have a few dolls I've been meaning to redo, and I thought while I was at it I might as well take some pictures and do a few comparison/tutorial posts. The next post will be my face up tutorial. I may film it, but I haven't decided yet.

I've decided to do a comparison/how-to feature for these so you can decide which is best for you.

I'm not getting into the acetone/no-acetone debate thing though. I don't know enough about acetone to say either way. I've heard horror stores, but then I've used products with acetone and had no issues myself. So, it's best for me just to avoid that subject for now.

Average Price USD
Winsor and Newton (W&N)
$5 for 4oz on up to $12 for 16oz and higher.
  • Removes face up w/ little scrubbing
  • Can also be used to clean brushes
  • Won't damage resin if you let it soak for awhile
  • Expensive
  • Hard to get
  • Oily residue
  • Weird smell
Rubbing/Isopropyl Alcohol
$1.50 for 32 oz

  • Super cheap
  • Won't damage resin if you soak it

  • Takes more scrubbing to remove a face up
  • Stings your hands
Nail polish remover w/acetone
$2.60 for 6oz
  • Usually cheap
  • Removes with a little scrubbing
  • Can stain your doll if dyed
  • Long term exposure to acetone can weaken the resin
  • Stinks
Nail polish remover w/o acetone

  • Usually cheap

  • Can stain your doll if the remover is colored
  • Takes far too much effort to remove face ups with it for my taste.
  • Stinks

Word of Caution: I have not tried any of these on home-dyed dolls. I'm kinda scared to. Do so at your own risk, but do let me know how it goes. 

Winsor and Newton:
You need to wash the pieces very well afterward to fully remove the W&N.
It leaves an oily residue that can cause problems with face ups if you don't.
You will go through a lot of this, especially if you let the heads soak. I got a 16oz bottle in February and it's half gone.

Isopropyl Alcohol:
Comes in various strengths. I don't use less than 70%. The stronger, the better. For this blog I used 91%. The stronger ones tend to be a tad more expensive, but it's still cheaper than W&N and safer than Acetone.

Nail Polish Remover:
I never had issues with this personally, but I've heard and seen some bad things that happen when you use acetone incorrectly or for too long.

Alright, with that out of the way, let's move on to the picture demonstrations.

My victims:

victim 2
Jill, Feeple 60 Chloe
victim 1
'Stilts (R) Pongpong
Pukifee Pongpong recast with a temporary, and thus lightly sealed, face up.

victim 3
Rheia, mnf (R)
Feeple 60 Chloe legit with a face up meant to be permanent, so highly sealed. I hate her smudgy eye lashes so I'm going to try again.

Minifee Rheia recast with a slightly crappy face up. Been meaning to redo this with my new eyebrow technique, so I'm wiping her too.

Onto the pics!

First up, things you might need:

things you will need

  1. Old toothbrush: use for scrubbing and for tiny areas that are hard to reach like mouths and the corner of the eye.
  2. Make up remover cotton pad thingies
  3. Photobomb: Grendell. That is all.
  4. Toothpicks for hard to reach places (I recommend not using color ones as they can bleed their dye onto the doll. Not common, but it happens.)
  5. 70% Isopropyl Alcohol (brand name bleeped out as it's a local store brand and I didn't want everyone to know where I was from in case these stores aren't everywhere.)
  6. 91% Isopropyl Alcohol
  7. Winsor and Newton Brush Cleaner and Restorer
  8. Nail Polish Remover with acetone

The First Battle: Nail Polish Remover w/ acetone versus 70% Isopropyl Alcohol
battle 1

The left side of Rumpelstiltskin's face is cleaned with
nail polish remover, the right side with alcohol.

This side was taken off with nail polish remover. It took maybe a couple minutes to get it all off. It did leave some black sticky bits from the sealant getting removed, but that was easy to wipe off, no big deal.

pongpong left side
Nail Polish Remover on this side of face.
This picture was taken after a couple minutes. It was not as quick as the nail polish remover. It ended up taking a couple more minutes to get it all off.
pongpong right side

In the end, both were able to get the face up off with no residue and no damage to the resin. The winner, in terms of speed, is the nail polish remover.

pongpong done

The Second Battle: 91% Alcohol versus Winsor and Newton

battle 2

First up, Snow White's left side was removed with rubbing alcohol. It removed it nearly instantly, and it was completely gone after only a little scrubbing.

snow alcohol side
This side removed with alcohol.

This next picture is taken after the same amount of time as the last one (a couple minutes give or take), and as you can see it was not completely removed. I ended up removing the rest of it was the rubbing alcohol and didn't bother with the W&N.

snow winsor side
Other side removed with W&N, then alcohol.

The winner of this one is the rubbing alcohol. It is just more effective than W&N and takes a bit more elbow grease (if you soak a head in W&N you pretty much don't have to scrub at all), but is cheaper and doesn't leave that weird residue.

The Third Battle: 91% Alcohol versus Nail Polish Remover

battle 3

This first picture is to show you how it looks at first when you're cleaning off with nail polish remover.

This second picture shows after you've wiped the little black things off. See? Not much left. The rest wipes off with a tissue or when you wash the doll.
jill nail polish side 2

This last picture shows her wiped off with the alcohol.

jill alcohol side
Both took a very short time to remove. The nail polish remover was a little bit less effort, but it smells bad (I hate the smell of nail polish and remover, which is why I tried W&N in the first place). I'd say the winner of this battle is the alcohol because it has little smell, won't damage the resin, and is just as effective as nail polish remover.

jill finished

The overall winner? Isopropyl Alcohol at 91%. The fact that it cleaned thoroughly with little residue left behind, as well as the cheap cost makes it the best choice. I will probably leave the W&N for the paintbrushes. I was surprised by these results. I was expecting the W&N to be better, based on what I had read on DoA and other places.

Thanks for looking and happy collecting!
(Stay tuned for a face up tutorial in a couple weeks.)


  1. Thank you for the effort put into this!! It really helped :D


Thanks for reading! <3 I try to follow up on every comment my readers make.