At age 18, John figured out he was balding from a photo on Facebook.
Growing up, John — now a 28-year-old San Francisco public relations professional who asked that we withhold his real name — prided himself on his luscious locks. “I had always had a thick, full head of hair — I’m of Middle Eastern/Jewish ancestry,” he says. “That was closely associated with my identity.” But as a freshman in college, he discovered that he was losing his hair when a friend posted a photo of him on Facebook. “I was kind of stunned. It was really brutal,” he says, noting it was the thinning hair around his temples that gave it away. “I just assumed [balding] was something that magically happened at 45.”
For Mabel it was a clogged shower drain that alerted her to the problem. Already stressed by the pressures of college (she was a premed major and had picked up a minor), and feeling homesick for her family in Hawaii, Mabel, then 19, says the hair loss was devastating. “I thought, oh my god, am I really losing my hair,” she says. “It was crushing. Hair is a very feminine thing.”
Experts say they’re seeing more people like John and Mabel: men and women as young as 18 who are freaking out about going bald. San Francisco dermatologist Andrea Hui says balding millennials are coming to her more than ever, asking her for everything from natural supplements like Nutrafol to more invasive procedures like PRP, which involves injecting your own plasma into your scalp.