this thing’s incredible

This Danish Serum Regrew My Thinning Hair

Photo: The Strategist; Photo: Retailer

I used to have long, curly, wavy, frizzy hair. And I always pulled it back into a slightly messy low-slung bun. I adored it. But one day back in 2018, I noticed thick strips of scalp where my curls parted. My hair was thinning. The best advice I got was to cut it short. I went for a straight, chin-length, Louise Brooks–Jazz Age bob that hid my scalp but required twice-weekly salon blowouts and flat-ironing — both were damaging to my fine, dry tresses.

Then in late 2019, I heard from a hairstylist here in New York about Harklinikken (Hair Clinic), a Danish hair-growth regimen. The line centers around the brand’s Extract, a liquid blend of natural ingredients that help regrow hair. I checked out its before-and-after pictures (compelling and believable), so I decided to give Harklinikken a try.

Before anyone can start with the Harklinikken program, they must be evaluated during a consultation ($150 in person, $50 virtual). That’s because the treatment program works only for certain types of hair loss. “The regimen can be ideal for those experiencing male- or female-pattern hair thinning (androgenetic alopecia). As long as the majority of an individual’s hair follicles produce hair, the Extract can help to improve their hair quality significantly,” said Lars Skjøth, Harklinikken’s founder and head researcher. The Extract does not work for scarring types or autoimmune-related hair loss, like traction alopecia, alopecia areata, alopecia totalis and universalis, or central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia.

At my consultation, Skøth said he found signs of shrinking follicles, which cause a decrease in volume, density, coverage, and overall quality. This “miniaturization” of hair follicles is common among people with female- and male-pattern hair loss. I was a good candidate for the program and started in March 2020.

The key product in Harklinikken’s program is the custom-blended extract ($88 for a month’s supply). It does the heavy lifting in getting your hair to grow by activating dormant follicles, which eventually thickens existing hairs. The liquid is a proprietary blend, about which the brand doesn’t give a lot of details. We do know it contains fermented cow milk, combined with root, flower, and fruit extracts.

Since that consultation three years ago, I’ve been applying the Extract every night (sometimes during the day instead). It’s a liquid consistency, so there’s none of the viscosity, greasiness, or tackiness that you might expect from a serum. It dries quickly. A firm fingertip scalp massage is part of the application protocol. Apparently it helps the Extract penetrate the hair follicles, but it’s also really relaxing.

The morning after my first application of the Extract, while shampooing and washing out my conditioner, I didn’t have any hair fall out. That was a big deal, because for several years prior, every time I shampooed, dozens of strands would be weaved among my fingers. Losing my hair felt like I was losing part of my identity.

Six weeks after starting the program, I noticed peach-fuzz haze in my partings — new growth where there’d been visible scalp. And soon afterward, a neat and adorable row of baby bangs appeared along my hairline. At that point, I was sold, fully committed to the routine. The haze grew into curls — perfectly timed for fall 2020, just as New York was reopening. Once friends and I started having get-togethers, I resumed visits with my colorist, Alexis Ogawa, at the Pierre Michel Salon. She confirmed it — plenty of new hair growth. My hairstylist, Nathalie Kalae, who works independently out of the Sola Salons in Williamsburg, sees it too. Every time I come in for a trim, she highlights how thick my hair has gotten at the roots.

From left: The author’s hair before starting Harklinikkenafter Harklinikken
From left: The author’s hair before starting Harklinikkenafter Harklinikken

Harklinikken clients are asked to return to the clinic at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months, and then after that, every 6 months to update their Extract formula.

Harklinikken also has shampoos, conditioners, and styling products. And while stylers can be afterthoughts in other hair-growth regimens, Harklinikken’s are among the best and most luxurious that I’ve ever used. I shampoo twice, first with the Balancing shampoo ($54), then with the Fortifying formula ($44). The layering ensures my hair is properly cleansed and hydrated, says Skøth. If you’re using some of the styling products, total monthly Harklinikken costs are about $100 to $150, though a loyalty program offers discounts of up to $50. Plus, the program requires a time commitment and a willingness to apply that Extract every night. (Skjøth anticipates that I’ll be on the daily routine for a few more years, at which point I’ll probably be able to limit extract use to twice a week.)

Photo: Ann Lawlor

The time and money all adds up, but the program has worked so well for me. I love the cascades of bouncy curls at the back of my head, the knife-thin partings where my curls separate, and running my fingers through my thicker hair. Right now, according to Harklinikken, I’ve got 65 percent new growth around my face and on the crown, and 80 percent or more at the back. And best of all, stylewise, since my hair is now slightly longer than chin length, I’ve made it back to a (mini) low-slung bun.

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This Danish Serum Regrew My Thinning Hair