The American Girl Doll Salon is an activity available in all full American Girl Place locations and some temporary stores.
Salons are generally located in an open area.
The purchaser must sign up for a specific time any appointment for services and are informed at sign up what time they will have the service done or completed. The doll is taken with a note of doll's name and owner's name. Dolls are stored in cubicles before (and after, if not picked up immediately) their styling or modification. There are also some example styles shown on various modern dolls. Starting in 2018, sign ins were done via computer and purchasers with active cell phones who leave their number are texted when their appointment is open. All pickups are by either paying at the salon (which often has a small register), or showing a receipt that shows payment already made.
Modified dolls can have their hair styled. However, purchasers are told that they accept all responsibility and generally made to sign a disclaimer stating that they understand risks and the employees and American Girl are not obligated to repair or replace a damaged doll. While originally non-American Girl dolls could have salon services with disclaimers, as of 2019 non-American Girl dolls cannot receive any services whatsoever.
Any doll with hair can be given a salon hairstyle; styles exist for all dolls including all retired dolls, WellieWishers, and Bitty Twins. Bitty Baby, being essentially bald, does not have any available hairstyles.
Hairstyles are selected from a notebook or a tablet with images showing all available styles. Prices range from $10 to $20, depending on how elaborate the style is. (Originally some simple all-down styles were $5 but as of 2021, the lowest price on styles has been raised to no less than $10.) Some hairstyles, generally specialty ones, may come with an additional accessory (such as a hair flower clip or tiara) and will cost about $25.
Dolls are covered with a styling drape if necessary and strapped into salon chairs; the drape is often tied on backwards. Hair is styled using small stiff brushes, standard brushes, and water in spray bottles. Hairstyling cannot fully restore dried or damaged hair, but care is taken to attempt some degree of restoration. Styling is done where purchasers and others may see the styling done.
Hairstyles for modern dolls were initially separated by the doll's hair texture: straight or wavy, curly, short, and textured. Now all hairstyles are shown together without specifications for hair texture.
Hairstyles for Historical Characters reference their meet-styles and so are more of a restoration. As Addy Walker has had two distinct meet hairstyles, either one may be selected; Melody Ellison has the option of either the meet flip or dual pigtail braids. Original meet hair decorations are not included with these restorations, but ribbons may be applied. Girls of the Year are also offered restoration style options and, during the duration of their year focus, at least one specialty style.
WellieWishers characters each have one restoration style and one unique "fancy" style. Bitty Twin Boys are only offered the option of a restoration "all down" style, later renamed the "Classic Boy" style. Nearly all hairstyles are accessorized with hair ribbons and purchasers may pick two ribbon colors that are tied together into bows. More elaborate styles may have the color of elastics chosen.
As of 2021 a tiara may be added to any style for $10 extra. Dolls are returned with a sheet explaining standard doll hair care.
Starting in 2016, water based removable nail polish is available as an add-on to any hairstyle. Polish cannot be purchased separately from a hairstyle. The polish is available in pink, purple, light blue, and turquoise.
Polish is applied to both fingers and toes and air-drys. The polish is water-based and can wipe clean off dolls with water. The rest of the bottle is given to the purchaser along with instructions on use.
The polish can stick to or stain other surfaces, and is not intended for use by people.
Cleaning and Spa Treatments
A spa treatment can be done to any 18" doll. This includes a robe, cucumber eye stickers, and stickers for nail and toe polish. Cleaning is done with baking soda to remove surface grime and grit.
Spa cleaning cannot remove deep staining or major issues; major stains or issues must be done through the American Girl Hospital.
Ear Piercing is available for any 18" doll and WellieWishers. They include the currently active earrings (currently the Stars and Hoops Earrings) for all 18" dolls and Bright Blooms Earring Set for WellieWishers) and included specialty earrings for Girls of the Year or Contemporary Characters when available.
A duplicate set of stud earrings is used, resulting in an extra set of earrings. Piercing is done out of the purchaser's line of sight, and dolls are returned with a sheet on piercing care (including guidance of leaving piercings in for at least three hours).
Hearing Aids can also be installed and are done the same way as piercing. Dolls are returned with a small pamphlet on sign language.
In flagship locations and some select boutiques, salons offer additional children hair styling, manicures, and ear piercing (using an piercing gun rather than needles) with costs ranging from $30 to $60. Ear piercing includes ear care solution and care tips. Children must be at least six years old to have their ears pierced. Manicures include American Girl themed nail art on two fingers.
As of 2021 a tiara may also be added.