Rare and vibrant, throughout history we’ve always had a certain fascination with red hair. Natural redheads are hard to come by, and many men and women dye their hair to achieve those elusive shades ranging from strawberry blonde to auburn.
Several curiosities surround redheads, from their treatment throughout the ages to their redhead-specific health issues. Since not much is known about the world’s rarest hair color, here are just a few fun facts about redheads.
The first redhead in history
We all know that redheads are rare. But what many of us don’t know is how they originated. Legend says that the first red hair came from a visit to the city of Atlantis. His name was Idon and he was the prince of Mu. The story states that while he was fleeing from his homeland he stopped at Atlantis. There, he was astonished by the bright red pigment of the sky and his hair turned the same color. The legend continues by saying that all redheads descended from this prince. That’s truly fascinating!
There has been various studies linking redheads with their pain threshold and the results are appalling. The research revealed that people with red hair perceive pain differently than others. Meaning that their general pain tolerance is higher and they respond more effectively to opioid pain medications, requiring lower doses. What else can redheads do that we can’t?
No greying out
Redheads are definitely different. An interesting fact about them is that their hair does not become gray when they get older. Yes, you read that right. They never grey out. That’s because the natural pigment of their hair lasts longer than any other type of hair. The red pigment fades out to other tones of red, sometimes lighter other times darker, but it rarely becomes grey.
We all know that redheads are rare. They truly are a minority. In fact, studies revealed that no more than two percent of the population are born with natural red hair. The population of red hairs is mostly found in Western Europe, in Scotland and Ireland. Most of the redheads in the United States have some Scottish or Irish in their family. Redheads are truly a rare species.
National redhead day
Many of us take for granted the hair color we were born with. It’s not a big deal, but for redheads it is. Being a natural redhead is a rarity and there’s even a holiday dedicated to them. This holiday happens every year on November fifth. It’s mostly celebrated in the United States and United Kingdom. This holiday was established in order to appreciate those with the rare red hair color and to make them welcomed and loved by society. The only question is, do they get a day off work as well?
British Isles and people’s last names
It is said that in the British Isles, people’s last names are determined by their hair color. Historically, many popular last names are due to the red hair color that was or still is predominant in the family. For example, the last name Flynn is very common and it means bright red. The last name Reid is also quite popular and it means red-haired person. No need to spend money with twenty three and me if your last name is either.
Besides being rare to be a redhead, the bad news is that there’s a risk of redheads no longer existing in the long run. There are studies that show that the red hair gene I can eventually become eradicated by 2026, even though there’s no concrete proof of that. But in a better scenario, there’s a chance that the red hair gene might only become dormant, and will return later on. Gosh, it’s not easy being a red hair.
Satan was often portrayed with red hair
Red hairs really don’t have it easy. Besides being a minority, historians have found that Satan was often depicted with red hair. That’s because the color red was often associated with moral degradation and sexual desire, which are sins according the Catholic Church. The color red was also associated with magical powers. If being a redhead gave magical power, we can be sure that redheads would not be a minority.
Hitler strikes again
As if Hitler didn’t already have the reputation for being the worst leader in history, he went and forbade gingers from marrying each other. While he had no scientific evidence at the time to back him up, he claimed that gingers shouldn’t reproduce because they would create more gingers, which he saw as “spoiled offspring.”
The Egyptians sacrifices
In Ancient Egypt, there were many unique traditions. They had their own gods and they consistently made sure to pay respect for them. One way they would do that, was by sacrificing people’s bodies and many times it happened to be redheads. They would sacrifice them and offer them to the god Osiris. They would also burn redheaded man and scatter their ashes. That’s because they believed Osiris archenemy, Set, also had red hair and those with red hair were thought to be devotees of Set.
Redheaded slaves were more valuable
Back in Ancient Rome, slave owning and slave trading was a big industry. It is said that due to strong demand, slave owners would up the prices for redheaded slaves. In those times, owning a redheaded slave was a symbol of wealth and high status. Since it was such a low percent of slaves that had a red hair, some slave owners would dye their slaves hair red so they could be kept as trophies.Truly disturbing times!
The rare combination
If you thought gingers were rare then you’ll be surprised of how rare ginger with blue eyes are. They compose a surprising 0.17% of the population. That’s because both of these traits are recessive, meaning that its difficult to find people with either traits let alone both traits. For this “phenomenon” to be happen, both parents must possess the gene for blue eyes as well as the MC1R gene. Keep an eye out, it’s certainly a rare sighting!
Sensitivity to changes in temperature
Recent studies have found something interesting about redheads. They are able to sense changes in temperatures faster than anyone else. They are highly sensitive to changes in temperature compared to blonds and brunettes. Scientific studies explain that this happens because the MC1R gene (ginger gene), may cause the temperature-detecting to become over-activated, therefore making them sense temperature changes quicker.
Vampires of Ancient Greece
In Ancient Greece, the Greeks shared a unique opinion on redheads. At that time period, redheads that lived in the North of Greece were most commonly known for their barbaric behaviors. They were associated with the Thracians, who were people that lived in tribes. The Greeks thought, because of their wild mannerism, they would turn into vampires when they die. And it looks like the Greeks took it a little too far this time!
An interesting fact about health and wellness is that there’s a condition that can change your hair color from dark to red. This condition is called Kwashiorkor and it’s caused by severe protein deficiency. It happens in diets that have a high intake of starch and a low intake of protein. Besides beginning to have red hair pigments, this condition also causes dry skin, rashes, edema, anemia and digestive problems. That is not the best way to change hair color, please don’t do that!
The crazy cat theory
The British author, Mark Twain once pronounced that people with red hair descended from cats. That’s quite a strong statement! But to his defense there was not much information out on redheads at his time, so anything could be true. Even though he didn’t have a good enough reasoning behind that statement, he explained that those with red hair are more hot-tempered than those without. And you are probably wondering what does that cat have to do with anything.
The difficulty of dyeing red hair
In case you are a redhead and you are thinking of dyeing your hair, think again. To dye it any other color, the person needs to go through a bleaching process to turn the hair into a blonde or lighter shade and that is not advised. Bleaching causes irreparable damage to the hair such as breaking the roots and dryness. In case you weren’t convinced, then here’s another reason not do it. People with this hair color need to bleach their hair more than once for it to truly change colors. That sounds like a lot of effort! It’s easier to be a redhead.
More Vitamin D!
Research have found that the MC1R gene, “the red hair gene”, can increase a person’s ability to produce Vitamin D. Scientist found that redheads can internally produce their melanin, which is responsible for the tanning of the exposed skin even without much exposure to the sun. And that’s a good thing because Vitamin D diffidence affects half of the world’s population.
Sadly, there are people who are ginger-phobic and Hitler was probably one of them. Gingerphobia is described as a feeling of intense fear or dislike for people with red hair. Extreme cases of it have been seen and it does look good. Some people even show hatred towards gingers, which could be considered a form of prejudice and/or racism. Don’t hate on the gingers!