Close up of eye of Redheaded woman with green eyes
Sean Cate
Sean Cate
March 27, 2024 ·  4 min read

The Science Behind Red Hair: 12 Facts About Redheads You Never Knew

Red hair, often hailed as a fiery symbol of uniqueness, is a genetic marvel that has held human fascination for centuries. Those with red locks have left a sizeable mark on history and culture, certainly more than their population percentage regularly would. Exploring redheads shows not just a distinctive appearance but a myriad of interesting facts rooted in genetics, health, and societal perceptions. Here are 12 facts about redheads that might surprise you.

1. Redheads Are A Rarity Among Us

group of young, attractive caucasian people with natural red hair gathered together in studio with black background.redhead day. rare type of people with natural red hair. people diversity
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Redheads stand as a striking minority, making up a mere 2% of the world’s population. Yet their presence resonates deeply through human history.1 Jacky Colliss Harvey, author of “Red: A History of the Redhead,” goes into great detail about the profound significance of red as a color intertwined with passion and fire. Give it a read if you have the time. 

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2. The Genetic Complexities of Red Hair

Gorgeous young redhead woman with long coppery hair and blue eyes looking at the camera, close up head shot with copy space
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The allure of red hair lies in its genetics. The MC1R gene, responsible for determining hair color, skin tone, and eye color, holds mutations that give rise to red locks. Interestingly, those with red hair and blue eyes have the rarest combination, showcasing an intricate dance of genetics.

3. Redheads: Guardians of Their Unique Hue

Attractive young female tourist is exploring new city. Redhead girl holding a paper map on Market Square in Krakow. Traveling Europe in autumn. St. Marys Basilica
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Contrary to myths of extinction, redheads aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Despite their rarity, red-haired people are flourishing, with approximately 158 million individuals on the planet wearing their fiery manes.

4. The Sun’s Caress and the Shadow of Cancer

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Redheads walk a delicate line between beauty and vulnerability. They have a heightened risk of skin cancer, including melanoma, which stems from their genetic predisposition to produce higher levels of pheomelanin – which makes them more susceptible to sun damage.

5. Red Hair and Gynecological Cancers

Indoor shot of cute redhead girl looking away, having doubtful and indecisive face expression, pursuing her lips as if forbidden to say anything. Confused young female posing isolated at white wall
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Research shows that female redheads face an elevated risk of gynecological cancers such as cervical, uterine, and ovarian. Prenatal exposure to estrogen, mixed with the red hair genetic makeup highlights a complex interplay between hormones and health.

Read More: Man With 4% Chance of Living, Put Into Coma After Pulling Our Ingrown Hair

6. The Curious Case of Benjamin Redhead

Mature woman takes a Selfie while walking along Geelong promenade. Geelong is a popular tourist destination in Victoria state with safe beaches and restaurants.
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Often admired for their youthful allure, redheads deal with a paradoxical truth: they may age faster. Studies indicate that individuals with the MC1R gene variant associated with red hair tend to show signs of aging sooner. However, despite faster aging, their hair is the most resistant to showing signs of greying. 

7. Pioneering Pain

Stressed young ginger man suffering from terrible strong headache or migraine closeup shot. Tired upset millennial irish redhead guy feeling pain touching aching head massaging temples
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Redheads exhibit a remarkable resilience to pain. Research suggests that women with red hair possess a higher pain threshold, which offers interesting insights into the complex interplay of genetics and sensory perception.

8. Unique Response to Sedation

Yeah, good work man. Happy cheerful good-looking redhead strong man, raising clenched fists in hooray gesture, smiling broadly, triumphing from successful deal or great news, being joyful and thrilled
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When it comes to anesthesia, redheads present a problem. While they may have a heightened pain threshold, the link between red hair and anesthesia suggests that redheads may require higher doses of anesthesia, yet results are still inconclusive.

9. Harnessing the Sun

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Although more susceptible to sunburn, redheads have a remarkable ability to synthesize vitamin D better than most. Studies suggest that red hair has higher levels of calcidiol, a precursor to vitamin D. This knowledge has been helpful in better understanding varying light conditions.2  

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10. Redheads and Perceived Temperament

Nervous red haired curly teenager with braces wearing white t shirt holding loudspeaker looking at camera isolated on blue background. Concept of announcement, communication
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Beyond genetics lies a realm of perception, where redheads are often viewed as passionate and, well…fiery. Studies exploring the perceived personality traits of redheads reveal intriguing societal biases, underscoring the enduring mystique yet simple mental jump people take regarding fiery locks.3

11. Fertility and Romance

Smiling happy European woman with red wavy hair sitting in cafe in sunny day with her little daughter. Portrait of gorgeous stylish young mom with brown hair and little girl looking away.
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When it comes to procreation, redheads have a curious tale to tell. Despite facing fertility challenges, people with red hair on average have more children, which has sparked theories regarding evolutionary advantages and potential primal instincts.4

12. Redheads and Sexual Activity

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Research suggests that redheaded women exhibit heightened sexual desire, activity, more partners, and on average started engaging in sexual activity at a younger age. These findings have fuelled speculation about the interplay between genetics and attraction.5

Seeing Red

Best friends taking selfie outdoor with back lighting - Happy youth concept with young people having fun together - Cheer and friendship at picnic - Warm vivid filter with focus on redhead woman
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The allure of red hair transcends mere aesthetics, it goes deeper; into genetics, health, and societal perceptions. As we further explore the science behind red hair, we uncover not just a color, but a kaleidoscope that continues to captivate and inspire. From their genetic resiliences to perceived temperaments, redheads are a testament to the beauty of human diversity. As we celebrate their uniqueness, let us embrace our own rich tapestries of traits that make each of us a marvel of nature.

Read More: I Gave Birth to the Babies With ‘White’ Hair & This Is What I Need You to Know


  1. The Science Behind Red Hair: 12 Facts About Redheads You Never Knew.” RD. Amanda Gardner. March 24, 2024.
  2. Redhead Day: 9 fun facts about red hair.” USA Today. Amanda Kesting. November 5, 2016.
  3. 10 Unbelievable Facts You Didn’t Know About Redheads.” Huffington Post. Emma Kelly. April 18, 2014.
  4. Ginger gene makes redheads more sensitive to the cold.” The Guardian. Audrey Gillan. September 12, 2005.
  5. Hair color gene study sheds new light on roots of redheads’ locks.” Science Daily. University of Edinburgh. December 10, 2018