Written by Maci

Modified & Updated: 12 May 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett

Humanity has long had a fear and fixation for the unknown. Because of how rarely they occur in nature, redheads have faced many stigmas throughout history. For centuries, many different cultures have had mixed opinions when it comes to red hair. While not many understand why redheads are so rare, they have been associated with magic and the supernatural. However, how much of it is actually true? Find out more about the world’s rarest hair color with these redhead facts.

  1. Redheads make up approximately 1-2% of the human population on the planet.
  2. There are around 6 to 18 million redheads in the United States.
  3. The term redhead has been used since 1510.
  4. A hair color study in 1956 found that redheads are more common in Scottish territories.
  5. Ireland has the highest amount of redheads per capita in the world at 10%.
  1. Redheads are often called gingers.
  2. Redheads are more common in Northern or Northwestern Europe.
  3. Red hair is common among people who produce an altered version of the MC1R protein.
  4. Asians may have red hair if they are descendants of Arabs, Iranians, Turkic, Miao, and Hmong.
  5. In Polynesian culture, those with red hair are traditionally believed to come from high-ranking ancestors.
  6. Red hair is often associated with fair skin and sensitivity to ultraviolet light.
  7. This hair color is considered to be the rarest natural color among humans.
  8. There have been several depictions of redheads in renaissance artworks.
  9. During medieval times, red hair was believed to be a sign of beastly sexual desire.
  10. In the time of the Spanish Inquisition, redheads were isolated for persecution and identified as Jewish.
  1. Redheads first appeared 20,000 to 10,000 years ago.
  2. Some studies have found that those with red hair experience different sensitivity to pain.
  3. Those who lack proopiomelanocortin commonly have red hair.
  4. Queen Elizabeth, I was a redhead.
  5. An old common insult for those with red hair was carrot head.
Table of Contents

Redhead Facts Infographics

Redhead Facts Infographics

Redheads are more likely to be left-handed.

Some research states that it is more likely for people with red hair to be left-handed due to them having the recessive trait. Like their hair color, only a few people are left-handed in the western hemisphere. This affects around 10% to 15% of the population and is also considered another recessive trait.

National Redhead Day is celebrated on November 5th.

This annual celebration is also known as Love Your Red Hair Day in the United States. However, the United Kingdom and multiple other countries in the world also celebrate this day. This holiday was established to appreciate those with the rare hair color and to make them feel more welcomed and loved.

Red hair varies in different hues of red.

Those born with red hair will notice that its darkness and vibrancy differs from person to person. Typically, ginger hair comes in six main hues.

This includes the lightest shade of strawberry-blonde to the darkest hue of dark auburn. The classic red hue is often the most common mental image due to its vibrant and deep color.

The ancient Greeks believed that redheads could become vampires.

During ancient times, the Greeks would often associate those with red hair as Thracians. These were identified as people who lived north of the ancient Greeks.

The Greeks believed that because of the commonly barbaric behavior of redheads, they would turn into vampires when they die.

Some surnames from the British Isles reflect the tone of red hair.

Some of these redhead-inspired surnames include Flannery, which refers to red eyebrows. Others also include Flynn which means a bright red.

These surnames are quite common in the British Isles with the most common one being Reid. This translates to a red-haired person, or someone with a ruddy complexion.

Gingerphobia refers to the fear of people with red hair.

Gingerphobia is described as intense fear or dislike for people with red hair. Extreme cases of this phobia can lead to hatred towards redheads in general.

redhead facts
Source: Pexels

Mark Twain once stated that people with red hair come from cats.

Aside from his books, famed author Mark Twain is known for once stating how he believed that redheads descended from cats. This quote comes from the common belief that those with red hair are more hot-tempered than those without.

The stigma surrounding hair color is also generally based on several stereotypes across different cultures.

There is a common belief that redheads could become extinct in the next 100 years.

Many studies have suggested that the red hair gene found in gingers could be eradicated as early as 2060. However, other scientists believe that the gene can remain dormant for multiple generations before returning.

While a solid answer has not been found yet, scientists believe that as long as those with the gene conceive children, the gene can survive and pass on.

Red hair is often more difficult to dye.

Natural red hair tends to be tougher to dye due to its natural pigment and firmness. To dye naturally red hair to any other color, it would take a bleaching process first to turn the hair into a blonde or lighter shade.

However, this also damages the hair and makes it more prone to breaking and dryness. Normally, it will take two to three bleaching rounds before hair dye can stick to the hair.

Dark hair can turn red in the case of severe protein deficiency.

Severe protein deficiency results in Kwashiorkor, a condition most often found in countries with diets high in starch and low in protein. In 1932, the symptoms were commonly found in children whose hair would turn red due to the disease.

Some other manifestations of the disease include dry skin, rashes, and edema. Anemia and digestive problems are also common for those suffering kwashiorkor.

Redheads may be more prone to developing Parkinson's Disease.

Scientists have found that those who have red hair are more likely to develop skin cancer than those who have other hair colors. This can also lead to debilitating and fatal brain disorders.

Redheads become especially vulnerable due to the MC1R gene that limits the amount of dopamine released into the brain. Essentially, redheads are twice as likely to develop Parkinsons disease than someone with black hair.

Scientists have found that neanderthals may have had the red hair gene as well.

Research has found that pre-evolved ancestors once had a similar version of the red hair gene that causes red pigmentation of hair. However, this red color wasn’t as vibrant as the one we know today. This suggests that neanderthals did not inbreed with one another to pass on the gene.

Hitler forbade those with red hair to marry.

The Auschwitz dictator stated that he forbade this union as he believed it would produce spoiled offsprings. No other explanation was given apart from this.

Redheads were once commonly sacrificed in Egypt.

In ancient Egypt, redheads would be offered as sacrifices to the god Osiris. This occurred during Egypt’s early history and was common during that time. Similar to the witches of Salem, Ancient Egypt would burn redheaded men and scatter their ashes with winnowing fans.

Rumors and myths surrounding red hair have become culturally common.

Throughout history, there have been many prejudice and myths about those with red hair. Some of these myths have led to many ridiculing those with this particular hair color.

This comes from ancient beliefs that those with red hair are associated with the devil and are believed to be temperamental and aggressive.

Ancient Rome valued redheaded slaves much more than dark-haired ones.

In ancient times, the Romans kept redheaded slaves at a higher price due to the strong demand. At the time, owning a redheaded slave came as a symbol of wealth and high status.

Because such a low percentage of slaves had natural red hair, many others were forced to dye their hair red to be kept as trophies.

Source: Pexels

Those with red hair will not have their hair turn as grey when they age.

Scientists have found that those with red hair will retain their natural pigment longer than other hair colors. As they age, redheads’ hair color will fade from their natural red to a range of copper to blonde.

Inevitably, though, this also fades into a silvery-white once they get old enough.

The supposed first wife of Adam, Lilith, was said to have red hair.

Lilith was mentioned in the Bible‘s Old Testament, specifically in Isaiah Chapter 34. While scholars debate the translation, the original text mentions a great mass of flaming red hair.

Another study found that women with red hair require 19% more anesthesia to make them sleep.

A common belief amongst scientists is that redheads require more anesthesia due to their lower pain tolerance. This is caused by the mutation that also affects their hair color.

A 2004 study found that those with red hair do require an average of 19 to 20% more anesthesia when required to go under medical procedures. Definitely one of the more short-ended redhead facts.

Satan is often portrayed with red hair.

This is due to red often being associated with the color of moral degradation and sexual desire. Aside from this sinister imagery, the Meroviants of ancient Gaul once associated red hair with special magical abilities.

Some scholars believe that Adam had red hair.

This idea mainly roots from his name meaning “red.” He is also believed to have had a rosy complexion from the statement, “His complexion was that of the early atmosphere”.

Some translations indicate that this could refer to the redness of the sunrise, which matches the color.

Some parts of Africa still believe that redheads are connected to witches.

The belief in witches and witchcraft lead to several murders in the past in Africa. As a result, this adds to the cultural stigma against red hair.

Some artistic renditions of Adam and Eve depict Eve with red hair.

A few of the known art pieces to depict Eve with red hair includes The Rebuke of Adam and Eve by Domenico Zampieri. Others include The Garden of Earthly Delights, and Eve, Serpent, and Death.

These paintings were done by Hieronymus Bosch and Hans Baldung Grien respectively.

Women with red hair bruise easier than women who do not.

On numerous occasions, medical experts have confirmed that redheads are more likely to bruise after surgical procedures. Research has also shown that the MC1R gene that causes red hair also alters the lining of blood vessels in the body.

This means that other cells such as the ones that handle our immunity are also compromised. This is what causes easy bruising for some people.

Many redheads have influenced the course of history over the years.

Scholars have noted that many figures that have influenced the course of history were redheads. This list includes a Roman emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte, Helen of Troy, Cleopatra, Thomas Jefferson, Vincent Van Gogh, Galileo, and many more.

Many modern redheaded artists, actors, and actresses have also been known for their contribution to the entertainment industry.

Scientists have used pigs and birds to understand redheads better.

Some scientists suggest that the red pigmentation of a redhead’s hair may be associated with smaller brain size. In an attempt to understand how this pigmentation affects a redhead’s health, over 1,400 species of birds and boars were tested.

redhead facts
Source: Pexels

Pagan Witches would dye their hair red to perform certain rituals.

Modern pagans and indigenous shamans believe that hair is often associated with strength and vitality. Many folklore states that the power of a witch is bound up in her hair.

For certain rituals, red hair is believed to give out more magical energy needed. As a result, many witches dye their hair red with henna to properly perform rituals.

Bees like redheaded people more than other hair colors.

Scientists believe that this may be due to the bright pigmentation of their hair that resembles flowers. Complement this with your best shampoo, and you’ll be sure to attract even more than just bees.

The gene that causes red hair can increase a person’s ability to make Vitamin D.

Research has found that redheads can internally produce their melanin concentration when they do not experience much exposure to Vitamin D. Insufficiency of Vitamin D affects nearly 50% of the world population.

This happens with redheads because their bodies are unable to absorb sufficient amounts of Vitamin D.

Some legends state that the first redhead was a prince named Idon of Mu.

The legendary figure is said to have gotten his red hair from his visit to the city of Atlantis. The story states that the prince found Atlantis while fleeing from his homeland.

When he had arrived, the prince marveled at the bright red pigment of the sky and clouds, when his hair turned the same color. It is said that all those who have red hair today descended from the prince himself.

It was believed that children born with red hair were conceived during menstruation.

During medieval times, many believed that menstrual blood was dangerous. Some even went as far as stating it was poisonous towards a man’s penis if they were to have intercourse.

If a child were to be conceived while the woman was menstruating, it is said that the child would be born with red hair. In extreme cases, some believed that this could also cause the child to become deformed.

Redheads with blue eyes are the rarest combination.

This particular combination of hair and eye color are only found among a small percentage of the world population. The odds of having both of these traits are 0.17% which makes it extremely rare.

Both traits are recessive which makes it difficult to find in people. To make this possible, both parents must possess the gene for blue eyes as well as the MC1R gene.

In the play Bussy D’Ambois, the perfect poison is stated to include the fat of a redheaded man.

The Tragedy of Bussy D’Ambois is a tragedy written by George Chapman and is considered his greatest play. The story is based on the real events that lead to Louis de Bussy d’Amboise’s murder in 1579.

In the play, it is mentioned that to create the perfect poison to kill someone, it will require the fat of a redhead.

Those with red hair are more prone to developing melanoma.

Redheads can vary from a 10% to 100% chance of developing melanoma compared to those who do not carry the red hair gene. This is due to the MC1R mutations that redheads carry.

Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer that redheads can develop. In 2015, there was a record of 3 million active cases in total.

Women with red hair are more sexually active compared to other colored haired women.

A study conducted in Germany researched a woman’s sex life in conjunction with the color of her hair. The study found that women with red hair are more sexually active compared to blondes and brunettes.

This may be due to societal standards that redheads are seen as sexy and desirable because they are so rare to find.

Redheads are more sensitive to changes in temperature.

Research has found that not only are redheads more sensitive to pain, but they are also able to sense changes in temperatures faster. This sensitivity is also more intense compared to those with darker hair colors.

Scientists believe that this may be due to the red hair gene that has also mutated their senses.

Source: Pexels

Many women with red hair were burned alive during the 16th to 17th centuries.

This occurred during Europe’s peak for witch hunts. Many women with red hair were stripped and shaved because it was believed that this would remove their magic.

They would also be tortured and killed for the people feared their powers and unnatural features.

Redheads have fewer strands of hair than the average person.

On average, a redhead will have around 90,000 strands of hair while others such as blondes will have over 140,000. However, because red hair tends to be thicker, they always appear to have a full head of hair.

Tiziano Vecelli painted redheads so much that he became associated with the color red.

Also known as Titan, Tiziano Vecelli was known for his redheaded paintings during the renaissance period. Some of his most famous works include the ‘Assumption of the Virgin’ painted in 1516 and finished two years later.

Tiziano Vecelli was also known for his use of color and renderings of the human form.

Red hair is considered to be a recessive trait.

To have this trait, an individual will need two copies of the original gene for it to appear. This means that if both parents carry the gene, there is a one in four chance that their children will have red hair. Definitely one of the redhead facts that’ll make you understand why they’re so rare.

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