Monday, May 23, 2011

The Longhairlovers Interview With Dr. George Michael

While talking with long hair guru Dr. George Michael by phone from his home in Florida, I found that it was important to understand the man first before trying to understand his passion for long hair.

George Michael Selisky was born to Russian nobility long before Lenin, Stalin, and communism took over his beloved land. His mother was an opera singer with incredible floor-length hair.

As a child, he would watch his mother and his aunts brush out their magnificent manes and create intricate updos before entertaining in their extravagant halls. But, the Russian Revolution soon caught up with them and George's entire family was killed by the ruthless Stalin. Somehow, young George was the only one to escape.

George attended medical school and was drafted into the Russian Army. He moved up to lieutenant commander and then became a major at the age of 23. But George was captured by the Nazis during World War II and spent two years as a prisoner of war in a Nazi concentration camp.

The years 1943 to 1945 were some of the most difficult of young George's life. He watched beautiful European women with waist-length and longer hair forced into warehouses only to emerge with completely shaven heads. According to Dr. Michael, it was the Nazis way of "breaking" their prisoners and taking away their identities. But, Dr. Michael told me, the women still held their heads high, unwilling to succumb to the Nazi's attempts at humiliation.

American troops eventually freed George and he decided to move to the United States with just the clothes on his back. It was at this point that George Michael Selisky decided to drop his last name. He also decided to use his medical training to help women around the world grow the beautiful hair he had seen destroyed during the war.

Dr. Michael enrolled in beauty school and was told that as a doctor, he was much too overqualified to work on women's hair. He persisted, however, graduated, and rented two chairs at a New York City salon. He developed his own system, based on medical science, for growing and maintaining beautiful long hair. (click here for more on the George Michael system). In time, he had made enough money to buy his own salon. Dr. Michael's empire has grown ever since and today, at the age of 81, he owns some 2,000 salons around the world dedicated to long hair.

One of the major questions I asked Dr. Michael during our phone conversation was, "Is it possible to have long, healthy hair in your 30s, 40s, 50s, and beyond?" His answer was a qualified "yes!", but he explained that there are conditions attached.

First of all, Dr. Michael explained that the most important step for growing the longest, healthiest hair possible is to have hair that's all one length. That means absolutely no bangs (or "fringe", to our European friends). Dr. Michael told me, "Bangs are like worms!", which I took to mean they're a pretty bad thing. Fortunately, he explained what he meant.

"Hair is not at its strongest with bangs or layers," Dr. Michael said. "Because humans are mammals, nature will try to equalize the hair by excessively shedding in order to even out all the shorter hairs. This creates an abnormal loss of hair which leads to unhealthy, straggly locks."
Dr. Michael also explained that people, especially women, with blunt-cut long hair have the strongest, healthiest hair possible.

"The longer the hair, the stronger the root," Dr. Michael said. "That's because the root has to work more to support the length. And stronger hair is healthier hair that falls out less."

To prove this point, Dr. Michael says hair that's cut in a 4-inch style may lose up to 87 hairs a day; hair that's 12-inches long loses up to 26 hairs a day; waist-length hair loses 16 hairs a day, and floor-length hair loses just two hairs a day.

As far as growing hair faster, Dr. Michael says, "Hair typically grows just 6 inches per year. I know of just three places in the world where women grow more than half-an-inch per month: Tehuantepec, Mexico; the Piedmont Province of northern Italy, and in parts of Minnesota. Those areas lack iodine in the water, which causes severe thyroid dysfunctions including bulging eyes and horrible weight gain. But, their hair is known to grow up to 6 inches per month."

They also shed their hair 60 times during their lifetime, as opposed to healthy people who shed most during six periods in our lifetimes: from birth to age three; at 10, 22, 26, 36, and 54. These "shedding times" are all related to hormonal changes in our bodies and are the body's way of ensuring a six-inch growth rate per year; no more, no less.

So, how does one go about growing out those pesky bangs?

"The hair grows from left to right on your forehead. Part your hair on the left as your bangs grow out. Once they're long enough, part your hair on the right so your hair does 'push-ups' and doesn't appear flat. Once your bangs reach chin-length, you'll notice a serious reduction in fall-out."
As for my question about long hair and age, Dr. Michael told me, "Age is irrelevant. With long hair, a woman's beauty is timeless."