Two thirds of its clients are women. These days hair loss is countered with transplant surgery (which has come a long way since the era of the telltale chia pet scalp), prescription drugs, supplements, or nothing but an adjusted attitude. But nearly $4 billion is spent every year in the United States to fight it, so clearly not many people are taking the laid-back approach.
An especially clued-in crew that includes British politicians, European royals, and Persian Gulf oil billionaires is literally going the extra mile, rearranging schedules to visit Harklinikken, a hair clinic in Copenhagen. And this summer, Harklinikken opened its doors in Manhattan.
Harklinikken stands out as much for what it does—create customized topical formulas to reverse hair loss - as for what it doesn’t do: transplants. “The standard way of thinking is to create that magic medicine or pill that will fit everyone,” says Harklinikken’s founder and CEO, Lars Skjoth. “We learn about the individual and then customize according to age, to gender, to how advanced the hair loss is. Then we get feedback from the client and customize again, track, and then customize again, and do that during the life of the treatment.”
After in-person consultations, clients receive their own Extract
, which are often made from proprietary ingredients derived from milk, as well as botanicals such as iron-rich burdock and antioxidant-rich calendula, and which help improve blood circulation, reduce scalp irritation, and pave the way for healthier, more active follicles, which Skjoth says is the key to successful hair regrowth. That, and the proper prescription. “It’s not that we suddenly have something new,” he says. “But we are not using a standard, one-size-fits-all method.” Results can be seen in as little as three months, and they’re long-lasting; many clients stop treatment after just a year.
The best candidates are those suffering from the most common type of hair loss, androgenetic alopecia, which affects around 80 million people in the U.S., causing a receding hairline and thinning crown in men and all over thinning in women. Genetic causes are a likely factor, most notably overproduction of the follicle-shrinking hormone DHT, an excess of which can lead to weaker, thinner hair. Other causes range from stress, hormonal changes, and thyroid issues to excesses of iron, zinc, and prostaglandin D2.
“My hair is thicker, with so much more growth,” says Shaima Sharif, who has been a Harklinikken patient for three years. “Nobody believes I had problems with it until I show them my before pictures.” (Two-thirds of Harklinikken’s clients are women; one is allegedly Crown Princess Mary of Denmark.) Harklinikken was founded in 1979 as a mom-and-pop operation in remote Jutland, Denmark, but in 1992 Skjoth stepped in, expanding it into a global business. In addition to the Copenhagen flagship, there’s a second Danish clinic, five in Germany, one in Dubai, and one in Tampa.
In addition to locations in Los Angeles and New York, Skjoth is also touting Harklinikken’s new virtual clinic, which allows potential clients to privately send photos, undergo remote examinations, and discuss concerns before having customized Extract shipped to their homes. “The initial consult and the four-month follow-up happened via Skype,” says Cindi Yepes, a patient who had been previously diagnosed with hereditary alopecia. “I spent four years taking supplements, buying countless products, including Minoxidil, and have done god knows how many biopsies. Harklinikken has been worth every penny.” Not surprisingly, further dietary changes, as well as stress management, are also encouraged.
One reason non-local clients may still want to return to one of the clinics, however, is to track their progress with Harklinikken’s Follysis software, a quantification system that measures the number of active follicles and differences in hair thickness and diameter. The data makes possible a less invasive approach, which is important to Skjoth and his clients. “The way we define beauty is different here,” he says—at least in terms of intervention, not hair volume. “Less is more—and that’s exciting.”