Interesting Facts about Redheads You Might Not Know
As a young teen, I hated my red hair. So much so that from the age of 17 I bleached it blonde. It wasn’t because I was bullied necessarily, it was more that I was very aware that people just didn’t seem to like red hair. I grew up in an area where being different in any way drew negative attention and I’d always had various comments made around me like ginger nut or carrot top, even by my own family. As I got older, I think I developed a kind of hardiness about me which made me quite fiery and pretty good at ‘handling myself’ which seemed to put bullies off messing with me too much.
Until my niece came along, I was also the only redhead in my family, with the exception of one older cousin who we didn’t see often.
Mum to Redheads
It wasn’t until a few years ago when we took on the care of my niece that my attitude towards being “different” changed. I wanted to celebrate our red hair and pale skin, freckles and all. Even more so when I fell pregnant and I stopped bleaching my hair altogether.
Once I stopped dying my hair, work colleagues and friends who didn’t know the child me, with a big ginger mop, were quite surprised to see my natural hair colour.
I stopped dying it during pregnancy because, like alcohol and certain foods, I didn’t like the thought of putting things in my body that didn’t need to be there. And now not only do I have a redheaded teenager (my niece) I also have a very redheaded toddler.
Through my girls, I love my red hair. I’m embracing my red roots and I want my girls to do the same. I don’t want them hating their beautiful flaming hair and dying it at the first chance they get.
So, to help my little redheaded monsters embrace their different shades of red I’ve been looking into where the ‘Ginger Gene’ comes from and I came across some very interesting facts you might not know.
Redheads and interesting facts you might not know
We’re all mutants
I kid you not! Maybe not in the X-Men type of way but the gene responsible for red hair is actually a slight mutation of the MC1R gene. Everything we know about Redheads is down to this gene, fair skin, freckles and the varying shades of red.
We really are quite rare
Only 2% of the world’s population has red hair. And, there are more Redheads in Western Europe than anywhere else in the world.
A large number of none redheads carry the Ginger Gene
Everyone has the MC1R gene and 40% of the world’s population are carriers of this recessive gene.
In addition, both parents need to carry the ‘ginger gene’ in order to produce a redheaded baby. Also, if both parents have red hair, therefore possessing the recessive gene from both of their parents, they are 100% likely to have a redheaded baby. Pretty guaranteed then.
Redheads require more pain relief
A study carried out in 2002 took 10 redheaded women and 10 none redheaded women and tested how much anaesthesia was needed for each subject to not feel the pain of an electric shock (I know, pretty brutal right?!). It turns out that redheads need 20% more anaesthesia than none redheads. This is a result of us processing pain differently which makes us feel it more intensely. That mutated gene has a lot to answer for. But, let’s not forget that we are much tougher to knock out.
And to think I managed childbirth with only Gas and Air. 💪
We are more sensitive to hot and cold temperatures
Like pain sensitivity, we are also more sensitive to hot and cold temperatures. I’ve always known I was more sensitive to hot and cold but had no idea it was down to my gene mutation (I’m not gonna lie, I’m starting to feel pretty X-Men right now).
We produce our own Vitamin D
Who needs the sun when you produce your own vitamin D. Due to low levels of eumelanin in our bodies, redheads do not absorb vitamin D from the sun like our none redheaded counterparts do. Over thousands of years, redheads have adapted and our bodies have learnt to produce our own vitamin D (clever ay!?).
Redheads have less hair
Redheads have less hair than none redheads with an average of 90,000 strands. But, those strands are a lot thicker, giving us a thicker head of luscious red locks. This explains why every hairdresser I’ve ever had complained about my hair being so thick.
Increased risk of certain diseases
So not only are we at an increased risk of developing skin cancer due to the lack of pigmentation in our skin but we are also twice as likely to get Parkinson’s. Although, the exact reason for this is not yet known (not so superhero-y after all).
Redheads have more fun
So you thought Blondes had more fun. But, research suggests that when it comes to the bedroom it’s actually redheads that have more fun. The same gene responsible for our fiery hair is the reason redheads respond differently to a physical stimulus (winky emoji).
We don’t go grey (Yay!)
Well, I say we don’t go grey… We do still lose our colour over time but rather than going grey our hair tends to fade into shades of coppery red to blonde red to silvery white. I have to put my hand up here and admit that my hair has definitely reached the silvery-white in some areas.
So there you have it… Proof that redheads are pretty special. Yes, there are some negatives about that mutated gene and problems redheads have to deal with that others don’t, you can check out my post 9 Problems All Redheads Will Understand for more on that. But although we might moan about our fair skin and freckles, there’s also some pretty good stuff too. I don’t know any other hair colour that has its own day dedicated to it – Kiss a Ginger Day is on 12th January. Yep, that’s actually a thing and celebrated all over the world. Although, please don’t try to randomly kiss me as I’m likely to punch you in the face.
But we haven’t finished there. This post wouldn’t be the same without clearing up some of those myths we redheads seem to have gained over the years.
No, we do not have fiery tempers
To be fair some of us do, I myself have been told I can be quite fiery. But if you come across a hot-headed redhead, as far as science knows, it’s not down to the MC1R gene or the colour of their hair.
The Redhead Extinction
I know 2% of the world’s population doesn’t seem like a lot but we are most definitely not going extinct. 13% of the Scottish population and 10% of the Irish population are redheads. Considering there are four other major colours in the spectrum – Black, Brown, Blonde & White, 13% of the Scottish population seems fairly high. And don’t forget, 40% of the world’s population are carriers of the mutated gene. I think it’s safe to say we’re not going anywhere anytime soon.
No, we are not Witches
This myth is old and dates back to the 15th Century during the Witch Trails where redheads were burned for being witches all because of the colour of their hair. Similarly, due to our pales skin, historically we have been accused of being vampires.
Redheads are more likely to get stung by Bee’s
Whoever came up with this really have nothing else going on in their lives. It’s completely untrue. I love bee’s, as does my two-year-old redhead and we have, so far, never been stung by a bee. My black-haired sister, on the other hand, got stung by two bees at the same time.
Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed these Interesting Facts about Redheads you might not have known. I’m now even more eager to stand proud as a Redhead and show my girls that being a minority is nothing to be ashamed of but more of something to be embraced and celebrated.
Are you a fellow Redhead and have any other interesting facts or myths about our hair colour that I haven’t listed? I would love to hear them.