Head Start | A Copenhagen-based clinic known for delivering thicker, healthier hair puts down roots in New York

Head Start

A Copenhagen-based clinic known for delivering thicker, healthier hair puts down

 roots in New York.

-By LAURA REGENSDORF

– Photo by JAMIE HAWKESWORTH

 

ON A RECENT MORNING in Manhattan, a genial Danish biochemist is poised above a magnifying lamp, ready to assess my scalp. A frightful photo series on display, used to diagnose stages of hair loss, offers a bird’s-eye view of a bleak future. I am not in this camp yet, Lars Skjoeth assures me cheerfully. “You have wonderful hair,” he continues. “But as you probably know, you’ve had more.”

It’s true. My waist-skimming locks and I have enjoyed a happy coexistence for 30-some years, thanks to a low-intervention routine: virgin color, shampoo every few days, air-drying as a rule. But lately I’ve noticed a disconcerting shift. There are extra spaghetti-like twirls in the hairbrush; the drape of my bangs has gone from vel­vet to summer-weight linen. With experts suggesting that people can lose 30, even 40 percent of their hair before realizing it, when, if not now, is it time to pull the alarm? That’s why I’ve come to meet with Skj0th, the founder of Copenhagen-based Harklinikken and a word-of-mouth resource for thinning hair since 1992. With clinics as far away as Reykjavik and Dubai (plus a steady flow of Skype and FaceTime appointments), he is preparing to open his first New York outpost this month.

Skjoeth’s reputation precedes him, thanks to a proprietary formula that sounds out of a Grimms’ fairy tale: local Danish calendula, burdock root from Hungary, milk from grass-fed cows in Switzerland and Finland. Triple­-fermented, the anti-inflammatory Extract purportedly interacts with the follicles to bolster healthy hair growth against natural decline. The regimen is straightforward, if a date-night buzzkill: A vinegar-like extract is applied twice nightly to the scalp, followed by diligent washing with Harklinikken shampoo.

It specifically addresses hereditary hair loss, Skjoeth explains, a process that leads to the shrinking and gradual inactivity of hair follicles, affecting as many as 50 American million men-and 30 million women. While there is a profusion of scalp tonics and salon treatments claiming to make a Chia Pet out of your head, only minoxidil (the active ingredient in Rogaine) is currently FDA-approved to treat female-pattern hair loss. “People tend to dismiss it, but it’s a very potent agent,” says Elise A. Olsen, M.D., director of the Hair Disorders Clinic at Duke University Medical Center. As for methods not documented in the literature included-she says, “Frankly, I’m not interested until there’s a proper clinical trial of some kind.”

That hasn’t stopped upwards of 100,000 clients from putting their faith in Harklinikken. (The company plans to conduct trials next year, once it secures intellectual property protections; research is headquartered in Tampa, where medical director Panos Vasiloudes, M.D., Ph.D., runs a network of dermatology offices.) After Skjoeth peels back sections of my hair to reveal sparsely forested temples, I mull over the commitment (a monthly cost ranging from $120 to $140) and a nagging sense of doubt: The before-and-after images are so extreme, they seem too good to be true.

Currently taking bookings for the Harklinikken NYC Clinic.