By Lee Hyo-jin
"I knew that my hair would start falling out one day, but not at the age of 26. I'm worried that being bald will hinder me in my career because it doesn't give a good first impression," wrote an internet user in an online community for those concerned about hair loss.
He shared his recent experience of discovering bald spots while dyeing his hair at home, asking for advice on how to regrow his hair or at least to slow down his hair loss
"Not only am I losing my hair, but also the confidence and self-esteem that follows with it. I feel hesitant to take photos of myself and I've grown very conscious about people commenting on my hairstyle," wrote a woman in her 20s.
Imaban, one of the biggest online communities for people suffering from hair loss on Naver, has some 250,000 members, 45 percent of whom are aged between 25 and 35. In the group people open up about their experiences of balding and share reviews on various hair growth medications.
Balding was formerly regarded as a symptom of aging mostly seen among the elderly. But recently, an increasing number of men and women in their 20s and 30s are experiencing hair loss.
In 2019, people aged between 20 and 39 accounted for 45 percent of 233,628 people suffering from hair loss, according to data from the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service.
The hair loss product market is also growing due to rising demand from the younger generation to cure and prevent balding.
Olive Young, a health and beauty retail chain, saw a 46 percent increase in sales of its hair loss-related products such as regrowth shampoo and treatments in the January-October period this year compared with the same period in 2019.
Women in their 20s took up the largest share of the total customers 31 percent. It was followed by those in their 30s, accounting for 29 percent, and women above the age of 40 took up 15 percent.
"Balding was a symptom mostly seen among the older generations, but these days more young people are experiencing hair loss attributable to various factors such as stress and bad eating habits due to excessive dieting," said Hong Seong-jae, a dermatologist at Woongsun Clinic in Seoul.
"It is normal to have an average of 70 to 80 hair strands fall out per day, but if the number continues to exceed over 100, it might develop into chronic hair loss in the future. It is important to spot the symptoms in the early stages and visit a medical clinic for suitable treatment rather than trying home remedies," added Hong.