When Heidi Imhof started losing her hair at 42, she also started losing sleep.
The hair thickening shampoo Nioxin did not help. Neither did Rogaine. Then she heard about Harklinikken, a Danish company offering a customized extract given only to those who pass a fairly rigorous selection process.
Imhof, who lives in Land O’Lakes, was skeptical. The company’s before-and-after photos seemed too good to be true. But she went for a consultation and made the cut. Harklinikken’s products are not available to anyone with autoimmune illnesses like alopecia or baldness from scarring, or anyone unlikely to see at least a 30 percent increase in growth.
After three months of applying the $88-a-month serum, Imhof was so excited by the results that she overcame her embarrassment and posted her own photos on Facebook.
“You can’t see holes in my hair anymore,” she said.
Harklinikken (“hair clinic” in Danish) inspires great loyalty. Four out of five users come as referrals from satisfied customers, said Lars Skjoth, the company’s founder and chief scientist.
The results are certainly compelling. After four months of daily application — working the tea-colored tonic into the hair section by section, then letting it sit on the scalp for six hours — most users regain at least 30 percent of lost density, and some as much as 60 percent, according to company figures.
Harklinikken does not advertise, but the company is beginning an aggressive expansion in the United States. In August, Harklinikken consultations became available at some 70 Women’s Care Florida clinics. The company recently opened an outpost in Tampa.
Panos Vasiloudes, a Tampa dermatologist and Harklinikken’s medical director, said the company has double-blind, placebo-controlled studies it hopes to publish next year. Such studies are the one thing some dermatologists say they need to recommend the product.
“Don’t get me wrong — I really want it to work,” said Senna. “I’d love to be able to say to my patients, ‘This is something you can try that is worth the money.’ But I can’t do that yet.”
Harklinikken’s formula, refined over 20 years, is derived from plants and cow’s milk. That is the most Skjoth will say about it. But two potential explanations for Harklinikken’s success have little to do with its formula.
One is how much emphasis the company places on compliance, the major stumbling block in the efficacy of any treatment, said Senna, an author of studies on the subject. Prospective users are questioned about their ability to stick to a regimen and told that the more conscientious they are, the better.
They are also and encouraged with regular check-ins. Too many people give up on treatments like Rogaine and low-level-light devices before they have had a chance to work, Senna said.
Users say one of the strengths of Harklinikken is that it doesn’t claim to be a miracle.
“It wasn’t: ‘You’re going to get a full head of hair,’” said Jon Centella, 35, of Apollo Beach, who started seeing peach fuzz after four months. “It was: ‘We’ll give you 30 percent,’ and that’s what made me comfortable enough to give it a shot.”