Redheads make up a tiny percentage of the general population, but they are among the most represented in media, and for good reason. The brightest and boldest of hair colors is associated with some bizarre superpowers and a greater likelihood of some interesting personality traits. Here's a list of some things about redheads that you might not know...
Red Hair Doesn't Go Gray
Surprising as it might sound, red hair doesn't actually turn gray with age the same way other hair colors do. Instead, red hair loses its pigmentation and goes straight to a light blonde or white color, skipping the in-between gray stage of hair aging entirely.
Redheads are More Likely to be Left-Handed
On average, around 15% of the population is left-handed, and as it's a recessive gene, that proportion is unlikely to increase. What's interesting is that red hair is also a recessive gene, and people with red hair are also more likely to be left-handed. This is an excellent example of how recessive genes slowly disappear over time, except in certain pockets of the gene pool.
Redheads Need Less Vitamin D
Everybody needs Vitamin D to live a healthy life, but unlike many vitamins that are ingested, we get Vitamin D from exposure to natural sunlight. It's not too surprising, then, that people with red hair require less Vitamin D, and are even able to produce it themselves within their body, as this is a genetic advantage in parts of the world where redheads are most common: places across Northern Europe where sunlight is scarce.
Redheads Have Fewer Hairs
Yes, red hair can be a very vibrant color, but a little bit of that color goes a long way. On average, redheads have fewer hairs on their heads than people with other hair colors, with only around 90,000 hairs per head compared with as much as 140,000 on blonde heads.
Red Hair is Thicker
True, redheads have fewer individual strands of hair, but this number is bolstered in appearance thanks to the fact that each strand is thicker and tougher than other hair colors. Research into how this affects shower drain clogs is woefully lacking at present.
Red Hair and Blue Eyes is the Rarest Combo
Redheads make up just one to two percent of the human population, making it one of the rarest hair color (black is the most common). Even rarer is the combination of red hair and blue eyes, which is present in less than 0.2% of the world's population.
Ancient Greeks Thought Redheads Were Vampires
People in ancient Greece genuinely used to assume that redheads were vampires. The logic here was that redheads came from the north, where ghost stories and spooky vampire tales were a common part of the culture which trickled down to Greece through traders and travelers.
Redheads Have Always Been Accused of Witchcraft
History is full of tales of redheads being accused of witchcraft due to their hair color alone. This has been commonplace across so many different cultures for centuries, and sadly, still continues in some parts of the world today.
Redheads Need More Painkillers
Redheads feel more pain than people with other hair colors. In connection to this, when taking painkillers, redheads actually require a higher dosage than the average population in order to see a genuine effect.
Redheads Are Tougher
If there's an upside to feeling more pain than the average person, it's that redheads are actually a lot more resilient when it comes to dealing with pain. Studies have shown that redheads have a higher pain threshold and can withstand more pain without intervention, which is impressive (although it does beg the question as to who is studying the best ways to inflict pain on people with different hair colors).
Red Hair Requires More Hair Dye
If you're trying to dye red hair to another color, you may need more dye to get the job done. This is because all that vibrant pigmentation within red hair, combined with the fact that each red hair strand is thicker, means it takes more dye to change a redhead's coloring.
Redheads Are At Greater Risk of Parkinson's Disease
Bad news, redheads: people with red hair are more likely than the average population to develop Parkinson's Disease. On the flipside, those who suffer from skin cancer at some point in their lives are actually less likely to develop Parkinson's, suggesting that this disease has to do with exposure to the sun.
Redheads Are More Famous
According to historians, redheads have had a greater impact on history than people with other hair colors considering that they make up such a small percentage of the population. Thus despite being relatively rare in numbers, the average redhead is more likely to make an impact on the world than people with other hair colors.
Redheads Are Mutants
The gene that most frequently causes red hair was discovered in 1995, and is believed to date back to a mutation that first occured between 20,000 and 40,000 years ago. This mutation must have proved advantageous at the time, allowing the gene to be passed down through generations.
Neanderthals Were Also Redheads
As proof that the redhead mutation can occur multiple times, scientists have found evidence that neanderthals also had redheads. Their redhead gene was different to the modern human gene, though, which suggests that this was two cases of a similar mutation among different populations.
Redheads Are More Bold
According to a study conducted by a beauty company, redheads are more likely to see themselves as bold when compared with the rest of the population. 71% of redheads described themselves as "bold" during the study, compared with just 47% of blondes.
Scotland has the Highest Concentration of Redheads
Scotland is the country with the highest per capita population of redheads in the world. An impressive 13% of all Scots are ginger. By contrast, 10% of the population of Ireland has red hair.
The USA Has The Most Redheads In The World
While Scotland has a higher proportion of redheads among the population, the United States of America has the largest number of redheads of any country in the world. This is because there are simply a lot more people in the USA than in Scotland, and is the result of immigration trends from European countries where red hair is common.
Redheads are More Likely to Get Skin Cancer
Red hair is only half the story with redheads of Northern European origin. Because these redheads often also have skin that contains less pigmentation, exposure to the sun is more likely to result in skin cancer than among the rest of the population.
Red Hair is Found Around the World
While the highest global concentration of redheads is in northern Europe, red hair occurs across the world. In northern Africa, Morocco and Algeria have a high concentration of natural redheads, dispelling the myth that this hair color only occurs among Europeans.
Redheads Can Sense Temperature Changes
Redheads possess a secret superpower: they're capable of sensing slighty changes in temperature. People with red hair are very sensitive, and can tell when the temperature drops or rises by even a few degrees.
Many People Carry Redhead Genes Unknowingly
While redhead in Scotland make up just 13% of the total population, it's believed that as much as 35% of the population carries the redhead gene within them without knowing it. This gene provides the potential for a person's child to be born with red hair, even if the person themselves has another hair color.
There are More Redheaded Women Than Men
Studies have shown that women are more likely to be redheaded than men. This is because women of European ethnicity are more likely to have lighter hair than men, meaning that their hair will be red, rather than brown.
Dark Hair Can Turn Red Naturally
While you might not want to go through the experience, it is possible for darker hair colors to turn red naturally under certain circumstances. Unfortunately, the circumstances in question involve starvation or protein deficiency, so it's not exactly a good idea to try it.
Redheads Require More Anesthetic
Redheads going in for surgery need a higher level of general anaesthetic to get them to sleep. This is likely due to redheads' natural higher pain threshold, but it does mean that being put under can feel particularly nerve-wracking for gingers.
Redheads Bruise More Easily
Redheads may have a higher tolerance for pain, but their skin bruises easier than people with other hair color. This is because redheads have thinner skin, meaning that damage to blood vessels underneath the skin happens more frequently.
Bees Prefer Redheads
Gentlemen may prefer blondes, but bees prefer redheads. Studies have shown that bees are naturally attracted to red hair, likely due to their focus on finding bright, colorful flowers in search of nectar. If you have red hair and you feel like bees are always drawn to you, it's not just your imagination!
Redheads are Less Likely to Develop Some Cancers
Redheaded men are 54% less likely than the male average to develop prostate cancer. Scientists haven't nailed down a concrete explanation for this, and it's worth noting that gingers are still capable of developing prostate cancer, so men with red hair shouldn't consider themselves immune.
Redheads Like Spicy Food
As a fun quirk of their higher pain tolerance, redheads are, on average, able to withstand higher levels of spicy flavoring within their food. Obviously this isn't true across the board and will depend on personal tastes, but many redheads will be able to enjoy spicy food without feeling its effects as keenly as people with other hair colors.
Red Hair Features Highly in Commercials
Despite making up just 2% of the world's population, redheads appear in around 30% of all commercials on television in the USA. This is likely due to the vibrant, eye-catching nature of the hair color, which draws the eye to the screen with greater success than other hair colors.