When it comes to George Michael's (GM) hair care products, my hair has a very long memory. The GM products were the very first that I used for the specific care and feeding of my budding long hair. (Photo: Jeff Hines, Hairboutique.com, all rights reserved)
A little history would probably help. In 1988 I made my way to a long hair specialist in Dallas, Texas for help growing my over-processed, totally damaged, broken hair. The specialist had studied with the great long hair expert, George Michael, in his original New York shop. My specialist insisted that I buy and use all of the GM hair care products.
At that particular time the only GM products that were available for "at home use" was the orange colored cream shampoo, the pink cream rinse and the 12 Minute Conditioner.
I was a very obedient long hair client. I faithfully used the GM products for almost two years. I have to confess, even though I might get lynched by true blue GM fans, the results were less than wonderful for my hair. (Yes, I know, everyone's hair is different and everyone's hair will react differently.) The product was just not the best for my hair.
Even though I had disappointing results, I continued to use the products religiously at the urging of my Dallas long hair consultant.
Switching From George Michael
After two years had passed I decided that the GM products were just not working for me or my hair. I tried several other products including Bain de Terre, Giovanni and Biolage. They all worked OK for awhile. The key was that I felt they were better than the GM products for my hair.
Eventually I discovered Aveda to the great joy of my hair. Immediately I became a devout Aveda fan and never looked back.
I tucked my abandoned half empty bottles of the GM orange shampoo and pink cream rinse under my sink where it sat for years nestled next to the 12 Minute Conditioner. Although I never again used the products, I am not exactly sure why I kept them. Maybe I felt guilty throwing away GM products or maybe I just loved the picture of the longed hair lady on the outside of the bottle.
I was always fond of the GM orange and pink hair product colors. The orange cream shampoo reminded me of my favorite orangesicle ice cream treats that I enjoyed as a child. The pink cream rinse reminded me of those bright pink spongy hair rollers that are now mostly gone from the planet.
Years went buy and GM products became just a distant memory until a trip to New York City three years ago.
Returning To George Michael In 1997
In 1997 I traveled to New York City on one of my regular hair product buying trip. As part of my hair pilgrimage I found my way to the original George Michael salon on Madison Avenue.
Although the shop was still fully operational, George was long gone, having sold his business to his partner, Maria. (Photo: Jeff Hines, Hairboutique.com, all rights reserved)
During my visit I decided that it was only fitting that I again purchase a bottle of the orange shampoo, the pink cream rinse and the 12 Minute Conditioner.
After all, I reasoned, products constantly change. I figured that the shampoo, cream rinse and conditioner had certainly been overhauled since the last time I abandoned them. I had bright new visions of a great new George Michael relationship.
It was not to be. The formulas, as far as I could tell from comparing the new bottles with the old, was unchanged. The effect on my very long hair, was also unchanged.
I tried for two weeks to get my hair to fall in love with the GM products. After two weeks of rebellious hair, I again tucked the new 1997 versions under the bathroom sink next to the original 80s GM bottles. Yep, they were still there. I tend to suffer from "pack-rat-itis".
Please don't get me wrong. I have nothing but the utmost respect for George Michael and his expertise for long hair. My hair just doesn't thrive under the GM products.
Year 2000 - Karen Retries George Michael's 12 Minute Conditioner
Maybe I am stubborn or maybe I am unwilling to give up on some things. Recently my dear friend Dave Tichnor from The International Long Hair Club interviewed George Michael at his home in the South. Once again there was a stirring in my bones to try the George Michael products.
I had a good friend buy and ship me the 12 Minute Conditioner along with a fresh new (2000 version) bottle of the cream shampoo and cream rinse. I decided to give all three of the products another concentrated effort with my hair.
I had high hopes that I could get some great results with the 12 Minute Conditioner. This product has always been touted to be a deep conditioning formula designed to add new life to long hair. It is designed to be used as either a pre-conditioner or as for a more intensive 12 minute treatment.
I compared my three different jars of 12 Minute Conditioner and alas, there appeared to be no change from the 80s version to the 2000 version.
Some people would say that if you find something that works, don't change it. Others would say that you need to constantly refine and improve products.
Coming from the engineering and software world I tend to believe that a product can always be improved. I admit that is my own prejudice and may not be the best opinion on the planet. It just work for me.
Salon Application of 12 Minute Conditioner
I have some interesting memories of my first every 12 Minute Conditioning treatment.
The very first time that my original long hair specialist applied the 12 Minute Conditioner he followed a very specific and detailed process. In fact, I had to talk him into doing the conditioning treatment in his salon. He cautioned me that it took quite a long time and was a very involved process.
I bribed my long hair stylist with hot Chinese carryout. That softened him to the point where I was able to convince him to apply the George Michael treatment.
First he brushed all the tangles out of my hair and then washed my hair with the George Michael orange colored cream shampoo. He applied two applications of the shampoo and then rinsed my hair with warm water.
After carefully towel blotting my hair, he picked all the knots out very carefully. After removing the knots and tangles he very carefully separated my hair into approximately 2 inch sections and applied a generous glob of the 12 Minute Conditioner from root to end. Then he pinned each section into a type of weird pin curl.
He carefully applied a good blob of conditioner to every inch of my hair being careful to avoid the scalp area.
Once my entire head was heavily coated in the 12 Minute Conditioner he put a special plastic cap on my hair and then added a special heat retention cap on top of the plastic. My duty at that point was to sit under a hood dryer set on medium heat for one hour.
When he told me that I had to sit still for one hour I freaked. I am not one to hang out and do nothing for more than about 5 minutes. Even at Starbucks after 10 minutes I start fidgeting and cleaning off the surrounding tables.
Since I really wanted to give this treatment a fair shot, I controlled my antsiness for a solid hour while my hair "baked" under the dryer.
When the timer went off, he removed all the pin curls. Then he washed my hair with the GM cream shampoo. He applied a generous amount of GM cream rinse, two full warm water rinses and a final blast of artic cold water.
After carefully detangling my hair, he rolled my hair in huge spongy curlers. I looked like an alien from a UFO. Once again I succumbed to a session under the dryer. My penance was 75 minutes while my hair dried under a moderate heat.
When I was finally finished, I had spent close to 3 1/2 hours in the salon. I was so stir crazy that I was loony tunes.
Did my hair look great? Sort of. It looked soft and very shiny. Was it worth almost 4 hours of treatment? Absolutely not. Was it worth the price I paid for the treatment ($75)? Probably not.
Don't get me wrong. My long hair specialist spent a lot of time on my hair. I spent even more time on my rear end under a dryer.
Did my stylist deserve the fee? Yes, he did. Was it worth it for my hair. Not really, in my opinion. I thought that the Aveda conditioners (Cherry Almond Bark, Curessence) did a great job on my hair and I accomplished similar results in just minutes, not hours.
Using the 12 Minute Conditioner At Home
Since I tend to be outspoken, I told my long hair specialist, as politely as I could, that I really didn't think the results were equal to the time and money that I had spent. Not that I was complaining. I just didn't think it was a good value.
He understood my position and suggested that it would be best if I bought the GM 12 Minute Conditioner and tried a modified version of the treatment at home.
When I applied the "at home" treatment, I got almost identical results as my long hair stylist did at the salon. I again invested a lot of time under my home bonnet dryer.
By doing the treatment at home I saved time, money and hassles. I still did not think, in my opinion, that the condition of my hair after the treatment was worth all the time that I spent.
Yes, it did look soft, shiny and silky. However, I was able to achieve the same soft, shiny and silky look with other conditioners that took a lot less time and trouble and did not require the bonnet hairdryer.
The 2000 Version Of The 12 Minute Conditioner
I decided to re-create my original in-salon conditioning experience as closely as possible when I recently cracked open a 2000 version of the GM 12 Minute Conditioner.
I followed all the same steps. I washed my hair with the GM cream shampoo and then towel blotted my hair. I carefully picked all the knots out and applied the GM 12 Minute conditioner with my fingers to 2 inch individual sections of my hair. After wrapping my hair in plastic I plopped down under a hood dryer for 75 minutes. I took my notebook computer and got quite a bit of work done. Luckily the dryer drowned out the sound of my cell phone and any interruptions.
I have to admit that I enjoyed 1 hour of peace, and not so much quiet, to concentrate on business while my hair "cooked". I decided that hanging out under hairdryers where I could have some quality work time was a nice new business discovery.
Unfortunately, I also decided that the 12 Minute Conditioner and my hair were never going to be soul mates.
Yes, my hair was soft and silky. However, it was not any softer or more silky than when I used Edwin Paul's Deep Conditioner, Aveda's Curessence, or any of the Phytologie deep conditioning products. Actually, the GM comes in lower on the softness scale compared to all the other products.
When I used Aveda or Phytologie or Edwin Paul I don't have to sit under a dryer (using the dryer will intensify the results) for any extended period of time.
Yes, I enjoyed the peace and quiet, but I really can't give up that much time on a regular basis to condition my hair under a hairdryer.
Ingredients - 12 Minute Conditioner
The 12 Minute Conditioner always reminds me of Clariol's Conditioner product. The jars are similar is size and shape and the conditioners are both a white waxy texture.
I carefully compared the old bottles from under the sink with the 1997 and 2000 versions. They were identical. Same packaging, same ingredients.
I have never figured out how to describe the aroma of the 12 Minute Conditioner. It actually smells waxy to me. Almost like Turtle wax for my car. That is the closest I can come to describing this product.
The ingredients included:
Water, Glyceryl Stearate, Glycerine, Quaternium 70, Quaternium 60, Myristal Myristate, C12-15 Alcohols Lactate, Quaternium 18, Cetyl Alcohol, Diethyl Amino Ethyl Stearate, Phosphoric Acid, Hydroxy Ethyl Cellulose, Propylene Glycol, Diazolidinyl Urea, Methylparaben, Propylparaben. Contains no artificial color or perfume.
This cost of this product currently ranges from approximately $15.95 - $17.95 (USD). Tax may be an additional cost.