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

by Alison Rasmussen

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!