Young Koreans losing hair, tonics, pills and tinctures fly off shelves
The hair-loss-treatment market is growing fast as more younger Koreans are balding.
A total of 233,194 people visited hospitals for hair loss problems last year, and of them around 43 percent were people in their 20s and 30s, according to data compiled by National Health Insurance Service.
Of those, 48,257 were people in their 20s, up 15.4 percent compared to 2016. Visits by people in their 40s grew by 5.9 percent and for those in their 50s by 2.2 percent during the same period.
A 31-year-old man surnamed Chun recently visited a dermatologist due to hair loss.
“Maybe because the season is changing I feel like I’ve been losing lots of hair these days when taking a shower or applying product,” he said. “Hairstyles have huge effect on appearance, especially for men.”
According to a survey of 400 Koreans 20 to 60 jointly conducted by Amway Korea and research firm Opensurvey, 62.3 percent said they have worries about hair loss. Eight out of 10 respondents said “taking drug or treatment to prevent hair loss is essential.”
Roughly 28.7 percent said they started suffering the hair loss in their 20s.
“In recent years, more people in their 20s and 30s visit the hospital to consult about hair loss,” said Cho Gyu-min, head dermatologist at Classic Skin hospital. “Many visit us to buy treatments or get injections that can prevent hair loss.”
Koreans spent around 38.7 billion won ($32.5 million) in treating alopecia last year, up 44 percent compared to 2016. But total spending could be much higher than that considering that many hair-loss treatments are not covered by insurance.
Ms. Lee, a 27-year-old office worker in Seoul, recently spent 200,000 won buying ingredients for black bean shakes and a scalp care treatment known to be good at preventing hair loss.
“I feel so depressed these days because I’m losing lots of hair,” said Lee. “I heard women are likely to suffer more serious hair loss after giving birth. I must take care of this in advance.”
TS Shampoo, a local shampoo said to be good at reducing hair loss, recently hired 33-year-old G-dragon of boy band Big Bang as a new advertising model. Popular actors in their 50s, such as Cha In-pyo and Sung Dong-il, were previous models for the brand.
Dongkook Pharmaceutical hired 37-year-old actor Lee Je-hoon as the model for Pansidil, an alopecia drug, while Hyundai Pharm selected 38-year-old actor Sung Hoon as the model for its minoxidil alopecia product.
The size of hair loss product market in Korea is about 4 trillion won this year. It is expected to increase by about 9 percent annually, according to a report by Korean Society Hair Restoration Treatment.
Local cosmetic companies are scrambling to release hair-loss products to capture the increasing demand.
In March last year, Amorepacific introduced a hair care brand Labo-H. The brand has shampoo products that are said to be good for treating hair loss.
Shinsegae International’s beauty brand LOiViE released two types of shampoos that are said to be helpful in reducing hair loss in June.
Amway Korea introduced seven items that it says are good for treating hair loss, including a hair loss treatment helmet.
Chong Kun Dang’s CKD-843 hair loss treatment is currently in Phase 1 clinical trials, while Daewoong Pharmaceutical recently won approval in Australia to start Phase 1 clinical trials of its IVL3001 hair loss treatment.
“The demand for hair care has dramatically risen for men in their 20s as they are especially sensitive about losing hair,” said professor Kim Hye-one at the department of dermatology at Hallym University Medical Center. “A healthy diet and beauty sleep are important more than anything.”
BY LEE SO-AH, SARAH CHEA [firstname.lastname@example.org]