Coronavirus-Inspired Hairstyle Proves Popular in Kenya’s Biggest Slum

Asking to get the coronavirus might sound crazy anywhere but in Kibera, Kenya’s biggest slum, where a new hairstyle inspired by the spiky look of the SarsCov-2 virus has become a big hit.

With client numbers dwindling and their income collapsing, hairstylists in Kibera had to come up with ways to stay relevant, including finding solutions relating to the problem. In the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, some stylists found inspiration for new hairstyles in the shape of the deadly virus seen under a microscope. But it’s not just about the design; the new hairstyle is also cheaper than other popular styles – it costs less than $1, making it an attractive option for cash-strapped clientele.

Photo: Kenya Citizen TV/YouTube

“This hairstyle is much more affordable for people like me who cannot afford to pay for the more expensive hairstyles out there and yet we want our kids to look stylish,” one Kibera mother told Reuters.

To create the spiky look, braiders first part their clients’ hair into about a dozen sections, then twist and wrap each one with thick black yarn instead of synthetic hair braids, which make is cheaper. The gravity-defying tresses end up looking like the protein spikes that the coronavirus uses to “unlock” our cells and start replicating.

While other hairstyles popular in the Kibera slum cost 300 to 500 shillings ($3 to $5), the coronavirus hairdo is just 50 shillings ($0.5) and comes with the added bonus of spreading awareness about the actual virus.

“Some grown-ups don’t believe that the coronavirus is real, but then most young children appear keen to sanitize their hands and wear masks. So many adults do not do this, and that is why we came up with the corona hairstyle,” hairdresser Sharon Refa told Reuters.


Truth be told, spiky hairstyles have been around for years, but with imports from Brazil and China through the roof in recent years, it had gone put of style. Now, the pandemic has brought it back.

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