Scandinavian haircare brand Harklinikken has changed how I talk and feel about my hair—and with it, my appearance. The brand’s hair growth serum, along with its complementary shampoos, conditioners and styling products, have worked so well for me that I’ve stuck with the routine for six years. So hold onto your hats (yes, you should be wearing one to protect your scalp, especially if you’re fine-haired like me): I’m going to tell you my hair loss story, and how Harklinikken has helped me pull a plot twist.
I’ve always been sensitive about my hair’s lack of volume. Stylists describe it as fine in texture but plentiful—and that’s generous and mostly true, about everywhere except around my temples, that is. Those areas have always been sparse and wispy, populated by the babiest of baby hairs. Growing up I was a varsity cheerleader in the South, and I never had the lush, swingy ponytail I dreamed of—unless I set it in spiral curls using Conair Hot Sticks hair rollers, that is. (I’ll let you go ahead and google those so you can imagine the counterproductive damage they did. Be warned: They get super hot and will burn your forehead.) So my ponytail was sad, and there was never enough hair framing my face. The bangs I had weren’t a great look, either. Especially when I got a perm; especially the second time I got a perm. But we’re not here to talk about ill-advised perms.
So by the time I was 30, my hair—permed (then straightened), colored, highlighted, blow-dried and curled practically daily—was damaged. I could also tell from my hair brush and shower drain that it was thinning more and more. My Brooklyn shower backed up, and the super pulled out a clog of hair that looked like something out of The Ring but scarier. Truly! Gross, I know, but I want you to understand why I volunteered so fast. I was feeling older and scared about my hair’s future.
I met Lars Skoth, founder of Harklinikken, at the brand’s pop-up salon in New York’s Flatiron neighborhood. At the time, it was sharing space with the Eva Scrivo salon. Today, the permanent clinic (one of three in the U.S.; the company offers online consultations as well) is located just upstairs. He examined my scalp under a serious magnifying glass and light (picture what a facialist uses) and told me that, yes, I was a candidate for Harklinikken and explained how it could help me.
Basically, I had genetic hair thinning, which is pretty common among women (thanks, Nannie! Thanks, Dad!). I also had an oily scalp that was blocking my hair’s full potential. I learned that you wouldn’t be a candidate for Harklinikken if your thinning hair were due to scarred follicles—from repeatedly bleaching your hair à la Tina Turner, for instance.
I committed to applying a watery liquid growth product, which Harklinikken calls its Extract, to my scalp twice a day. It’s specially formulated for my hair, and Skoth has adjusted the formula over time as my hair has changed. I’ve met with Skoth or someone on his team pretty much every six months for the past six years, through job changes, boyfriend changes, you name it. It’s been like therapy.
To apply it, you squirt 4ml using a small plastic syringe from the front to back of your scalp in rows spaced out a centimeter apart. (It feels a bit like doing DIY hair color.) Then you massage it in aggressively with your fingertips, reaching under your hair from below and really working it into your scalp. You want to stimulate the hair follicles (not just get your hair wet) and encourage them to open up. I do this as part of my bedtime routine—it’s not enough to dampen my pillow or make my hair look wet or sticky. I’ve heard some women apply it at work.
I’ve also consistently used Harklinikken shampoo and conditioner, at times along with over-the-counter Nizoral shampoo at Skoth’s suggestion once or twice a week to help reduce the oiliness of my scalp. I’ve mostly depended on the Balancing Shampoo and Daily Conditioner. When I got pregnant last fall and my scalp became both dry and oily (fun times), he suggested I switch to the Stabilizing Shampoo, which did exactly that—stabilized it.
According to the company, the serum includes proprietary ingredients derived from burdock root, marigold, apple, sandalwood and cow’s milk, alongside naturally occurring sterols, tannins and fatty acids found in botanicals. It’s light brown in color and doesn’t really have a scent. You also don’t feel anything as it goes to work on your scalp. I tend to have a sort of itchy scalp—I have sensitive skin and am just itchy, period—and I find it to feel calming. That could be the coolness of the liquid or the ingredients, but I enjoy applying it and rubbing it in.
After six months, I had significant, noticeable growth at my hairline. Thick clusters of new baby hairs had sprouted, filling in the V-shaped voids that had always made me so ponytail-averse. My hairstylists started commenting about how much new growth they could see when they were blow-drying my hair.
Six years on, my hairline has actually moved forward. I have the curling tendrils around my face that I dreamed of in high school. I wear my hair in ponytails most days and am not ashamed. My forehead feels a little less giant in my view.
It certainly has for me. Stylists still comment on my new growth and ask what I’m using. I’ve actually gotten haircuts with layers. When I do take the time to blow-dry my hair, it looks fuller, thicker and swingier.
There is one caveat: You truly have to commit to applying the extract to see results. Missing even one day sets you back. At first, I wasn’t great about applying it every night, and I still saw plenty of results—just not my full potential. During the pandemic, when I wasn’t going anywhere, I got much better about applying it like clockwork, and I saw even more benefits.
Now that I’m pregnant—the extract is safe to continue during pregnancy, by the way—I’m mentally preparing for the great postpartum hair shedding. I’m glad I already have a system that I trust in place to get me through.