What Paint to Use for Reborn Dolls?

Gathering all the materials needed for a repair can be overwhelming and expensive. So, beginners often ask us which material is best to use for money.

One of the most controversial issues is buying HeatSet or AirDry acrylic paint. In this post, we will provide information to help you make the wisest decision.

Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Dolls?

One of the best options for painting dolls is acrylic paints. Acrylic paint dries on its own without heating, and the process is speedy. This means that the color may dry out while working.

Depending on the material of the doll, a primer may be required before applying the acrylic paint. We recommend using Vallejo Doll Surface Primer before applying acrylic paint to the surface. If you take the extra steps to prepare the doll to be glued, then the acrylic paint is suitable for the doll you are trying to paint.

Acrylic paint is perfect for detailing facial features and adding color to a doll’s nails. Acrylic is not recommended and is not considered the best option when adding blush to a doll.

Acrylic paints may not be the best choice for dolls you will be using a lot in the future. They need a primer and varnish to keep the paint from rubbing to keep them properly. Just like buying a doll from the store, acrylic paints wear out over time from overplaying.

What Paint to Use for Reborn Dolls?

How to Paint a Reborn Doll with Acrylic Paint

Firstly, you need to make sure you have all the necessary supplies. This is the easiest way to make your first doll. In most cases, the equipment should contain everything you need to complete the coloring of the skin and body.

If you do not wish to purchase a kit or do not wish to use the paint included in the kit, you can buy process-graded acrylic paint. You’ll also want to buy skin-colored dyes, brushes, and sponges.

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Once you have all the accessories, start by rubbing the doll’s parts with nail polish remover.

Nail polish remover removes any factory-made sealant or color already present on the doll. This will give you a completely blank drawing sheet. Next, you need to wash all parts of the doll with warm water and dishwashing liquid. Let it dry completely before adding paint.

What Paint to Use for Reborn Dolls?

The doll must be primed to achieve maximum adhesion. This can be done using transparent acrylic plaster. If the levels are dry, you need to adjust the skin tone. Use bright red, magenta, or blue dyes. Afterward, it would be best if you mixed the paint according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

When the paint is complete, apply it to the inside of the doll’s head, legs, arms, and torso. When used in the interior, it creates a light purple or blue tint with a pinkish hue to the doll’s skin. Rinse off excess paint and dry parts with a paper towel or lint-free cloth.

Next, we need to add veins to the doll. You can do this with different colors of paint with varying shades of red and blue. Add it to the head, torso, and other areas where the baby’s veins will be visible.

Allow this layer to dry completely before painting with flesh-colored paint. When the veins are dehydrated, you can begin to knead the flesh-colored paint. Add yellow, red, and blue in equal proportions until brown.

What Paint to Use for Reborn Dolls?

Lighten the stain with white paint until the desired skin tone is achieved. Apply flesh-colored paint using a sponge and cover the entire doll with a thin layer.

It is recommended to add several thin layers of different shades and shades to achieve the most realistic look. Create wrinkles on the skin, knees, and elbows by mixing lighter and darker colors.

Don’t forget to add stains like birthmarks to create a realistic look. Create a doll with the desired hair color. For best results, use different shades for different sizes.

Draw tiny, fine hairs on the doll’s head. The best brush for this is a fine-tipped brush. Don’t forget to use the same color for your eyebrows.

Then you need to add color to the lips and nails. Stick to natural colors. You want your doll to look realistic and honest without the look of makeup.

What Paint to Use for Reborn Dolls?

Newborns who wear hot pink lipstick or purple nail polish are uncommon, so avoid these colors.

If the doll has eyes open, paint it with iris color and add pupils. If the doll’s eyes are closed, paint the eyelashes with a thin brush.

When the job is done and all paint is completely dry, a sealant is applied to protect the position.

Genesis Heat Set Paints

Genesis HeatSet paint has been the reborn artist’s choice for many years. We’ve known for decades that this paint is reliable and adheres well to vinyl.

They give artists more control. Cured paints don’t harden until heated, giving artists ample time to create incredibly realistic effects.

However, it is best to heat the vinyl to cure the thermoset paint. Hot vinyl releases toxic gases, including vinyl chloride, which is considered carcinogenic.

So if you want to use thermoset paint, you have to buy a craft oven and place it outside your living room.

There are still plenty of videos on YouTube showing artists baking doll kits in their kitchens. This is a hazardous habit.

Acrylic Paints

Many brands of acrylic paints exist today, which are explicitly designed for repairs. Artists very familiar with this medium create air-dried recycled colors with acrylic paints available at craft stores like Liquitex.

The advantage of acrylic paints is that you don’t need to heat the vinyl. So, if you don’t want to buy a craft stove, this can be a good alternative.

However, acrylic paints also carry heath-risks which the proponents of air-dry lacquer largely understate.

Most acrylics contain ammonia and formaldehyde, which causes the “nail polish smell” that many people know. Acrylic paints may also contain phthalates, which act as plasticizers and reduce chipping and cracking.

These solvents are harmful to the respiratory tract and evaporate in the workplace as the paint hardens. Therefore, when working with a color that operates in dry air, make sure that you can work in a well-ventilated area.

Comparison of Heat-Set to Air-Dry

In addition to the risks associated with both types of paint, there are other tradeoffs to consider when deciding whether to use HeatSet or AirDry Paint.

Heat-Set Paint

Ease of Use

HeatSet Paint will freeze when the artist is ready, giving you plenty of time to create blending and shading effects. If done incorrectly, the paint can be removed before curing.

Curing Time

HeatSet paint cures to a durable finish in just 8 minutes in the oven. The vinyl then takes about 20-30 minutes to cool to an acceptable temperature.


When appropriately cured, the thermoset ink adheres firmly to the vinyl, and color does not seep through the vinyl.


HeatSet Paint works well with fragrance-free thinners with warning labels. Read carefully and follow. Heating vinyl also releases toxic fumes and should be stored outside the living room for safety reasons.

Doll Options

Heatset Paint should not be used on dolls that should not be placed in an oven or exposed to a heat gun. Various doll sets, such as baby-sized dolls, may not fit in a portable oven and may be inconvenient to heat with a heat gun. It is not recommended to put the LDC Softline doll set in the oven. Fashion dolls and other dolls that cannot be disassembled (eyes and hair removed) must not be painted with thermosetting paints.

Air-Dry Paint

Ease of Use

AirDry Paint dries almost on contact, limiting working time. Artists need to process small areas to get an even tone before the paint dries. However, retarders and thinners can be added to increase working time.

Curing Time

Acrylic paints take a few days to two weeks to dry completely. You can still add layers before that, but you still run the risk of rubbing or washing away the paint.


Some acrylic paints require vinyl preparation to ensure proper adhesion to vinyl. Cheap acrylic paint will peel off or leach from the vinyl. Choose a brand known for working with vinyl and carefully follow the guidelines you decide to avoid adhesion problems later.


Acrylic paints contain ammonia, formaldehyde, and phthalates, which are harmful to the respiratory tract. Can you work in a well-ventilated area and follow all recommended precautions?

Doll Options

Acrylic Paint goes well with any doll you can paint.

So, what’s the verdict?

The choice of HeatSet or Acrylic is up to you. I have been working with Genesis for many years and can solve any problems with Genesis.

I’ve seen it all! I’m not familiar with air-dried paint, but if you think this paint works best for you, there’s no reason to avoid it. I’ve trained many air-drying artists, but each dryer brand works differently, so it’s less valuable when things go wrong.

As much as I’d like to say about the Genesis, the danger of vinyl getting hot cannot be overstated. However, acrylic paint is also harmful to health.

It would be best if you decided what you can best handle. I use a portable oven to run the Genesis Risk and cure the paint in the work area.

Acrylic paint evaporates all the unpleasant fumes back to my workplace when the paint dries. This steam gives me a migraine. But I have a dollhouse lamp set that I can’t put in the oven yet.

So, I think we can better manage the risks associated with Genesis. However, it will help you decide which one is best for you.

Note: For reference, NOVOCS solvent used to dye silicone dolls is a known carcinogen. The same goes for E6000 glue, which many artisans use for a variety of purposes.
So, put this in perspective, anyone who handles chemicals to produce anything is exposed to highly toxic substances. The essential thing is to reduce the risk to your health.

Frequently Asked Questions

Artisans who have mastered HeatSet coloring create incredibly realistic dolls. Artisans who have mastered AirDry varnishes create fantastic and realistic dolls. Once you learn how to work with color, there is nothing you can do!

My info may be outdated as more artists switch to air drying, but I understand that most reborn artists are working with HeatSet paint from my survey results.

Old-timers like me use thermosets much more often because they were available when they first started. However, most of the tutorials available use GHSP.

But, an increasing number of air-dry tutorials and workshops have become available. And you may effortlessly follow the Genesis portray approach to Air-Dry.

Sarah Collins

I’m the mother of two wonderful children. My oldest son John is 7 years old, and my daughter Jemma is a little seven-month-old girl. My kids are the main reason why I decided to start this website. Having been a mother for the last 7 years, I’d like to share some useful tips with anyone who might be interested.

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