Nail art products such as gel nail stickers come in a variety of colors and designs. (Park Yuna/The Korea Herald)
The last time Jang, a 28-year-old translator in Seoul, had her hair permed was early this year. After the country was hit hard by COVID-19, she had to put off visiting a hair salon for a treatment that would prolong her perm. Searching online, she found an electric hair cap that claimed to provide hair treatment effects.
“I have been reluctant to visit a hair salon because it was near a place where a COVID-19 patient had visited according to information provided by Seoul Metropolitan Government,” said Jang. “Then I happened to see on the internet the electric hair cap. I was suspicious about its effectiveness. It looks weird and I was unfamiliar with such a device. But it turned out to be OK and I think I will use it as an alternative (to hair salon treatments) for a while.”
Jang joins a legion of people who have become self-sufficient in beauty treatments they used to outsource to professionals, as the fear of COVID-19 infection keeps people at home. Terms such as “corona home beauty” or “corona self-care” have spread quickly through online communities over the past three months.
The nail salons that usually enjoy a peak season ahead of summer were particularly hit hard with a sharp decrease in customers.
“We do wear a face mask, but it seems people are still reluctant to get nails done because the customer and the manicurist have to sit opposite each other in close distance,” said an owner of a nail salon in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, who declined to be named. “The number of regular customers has decreased at our shop, especially those who have children.”
While people shun visits to beauty salons, the increased desire for self-care has led to an increase in the demand for beauty devices or self-care products such as electric hair caps, LED light therapy face masks and nail products.
LG Electronics’ beauty brand LG Pra.’s collection of home beauty devices includes an ultrasonic cleaner and LED face mask.(LG Electronics)
Oh Hye-young, 31, has been putting off her regular appointment with the dermatologist. “I am relying on face scrub products and facial masks that I order online. It makes me uncomfortable thinking that someone would be touching my face when the pandemic spreads fast,“ she said.
LED light therapy face masks, which have grown in popularity rapidly over the past few years as home beauty products, have also become a sought-after alternative to visiting skin care salons. “We are definitely seeing more interest after COVID-19 broke out,” said a public relations official from one of the leading LED mask manufacturers in Korea, who declined to be named.
“Self-care, or self-beauty, was already a trend in Korea, but the COVID-19 pandemic has fueled the trend, leading the market to grow rapidly,” said Kim Kyung-yun, a professor of the beauty care department at Tongmyong University in Busan. “The boundary of professional beauticians has been collapsing gradually, and the nail beauty industry is at the center of the change. Many nail salons had been hit hard by self-nail beauty products even before the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The pandemic is escalating the change in lifestyle and beauty trend, and the professional beauty salons will have to seek ways to survive even after the pandemic.”
By Park Yuna (firstname.lastname@example.org)