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Coronavirus Inspires the Latest Hair Trend in Kenya

Gettrueth Ambio, 12, has her hair styled in the shape of the new coronavirus, at the Mama Brayo Beauty Salon in the Kibera slum, or informal settlement, of Nairobi, Kenya, Sunday, May 3, 2020. The salon's owner says the coronavirus hairstyle, for which she charges 1 dollar to make, has become popular amongst children in Kibera and sends a message of awareness about the new virus. (AP Photo/Brian Inganga)

The coronavirus has revived a hairstyle in East Africa, one with braided spikes that echo the virus’ distinctive shape. The style’s growing popularity is in part due to economic hardships linked to virus restrictions — it’s cheap, mothers say — and to the goal of spreading awareness that the coronavirus is real. The hairstyle had gone out of fashion in recent years as imported real and synthetic hair from India, China and Brazil began to flood the market and demand by local women increased. Pictures of the flowing or braided imported styles are tacked up in beauty salons across much of Africa. The hairstyle is much more affordable, it costs about 50 U.S. cents, to get the braids while the average hairdo costs $3 to $5. The technique used in braiding the coronavirus hairstyle is threading, which uses yarn instead of synthetic hair braids. This is the secret to making it affordable, residents said.


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