Extraordinary stories circulate about people with red hair

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Only one percent of the world’s population has red hair. This red hair is the result of a genetic defect in the gene MC1R. You must have inherited this defect from both your parents to actually have red hair.

Extraordinary stories circulate about redheads, many of which are true. For example, did you know that redheads cannot get gray hair? And that they may be more sensitive to pain? Read the truth about red hair here.

Extraordinary stories circulate about redheads, many of which are true.

Red hair worldwide

Not many people in the world have red hair. Although there are several areas where it is more common, such as Scotland (13%), Ireland (11%) and the Russian region of Kazan, it occurs in only one out of every hundred people worldwide. That makes it a special group of people. If you look at the world map of hair color you will see that red hair is dwarfed.

Two colors of pigment (eumelanin and pheomelanin)

Through genes, people pass on their inherited characteristics to their children. The genes also store what dyes your body will make for your skin, hair and eyes and in what proportions your body does this.

There are two types of pigment. Red/yellow (pheomelanin) and black/brown (eumelanin). Black here is predominant over the red. The proportions of the two pigments determine the exact color composition of your hair. If you produce a lot of red in addition to black, your brown hair will thus become reddish. And if you have blond hair, you can think of this as a light-black version.

Red hair results from a mutation in a gene that suppresses the production of the black pigment, eumelanin, and makes more pheomelanin. As a result, the red pigment takes over and you get red hair and light skin.

Genetic flaw

So red hair is usually (95%) the result of a mutated gene. The gene in question is the gene MC1R. This gene is a protein that sits on the outside of your body’s cells and acts as a switch of pigment production. Usually, this gene actually takes care of the production of the eumelanin, but in the mutated variant, it no longer does this (partially), so more pheomelanin is produced by the body.

There are very many variants of the gene MC1R. As a result, red hair also comes in many capacities. One red is not the other. Geneticists think that the “real” redheads (toothy hair, light skin, lots of freckles) must have received the same mutation from both parents.

In the other 5% of redheads, other genes are the cause. Which genes these are, that is not yet known.

What is the difference between redheads and albinos?

Redheads lack (partially) the black pigment. In albinos, both pigments are missing. They have white skin, white hair and pinkish-red eyes.

Can redheads turn gray?

People with red hair do not turn gray. When red hairs lose their pigment they do not turn gray first, but white right away. The bunch of red hair will fade and become more pale as a result, but it does not turn gray.

Redheads more sensitive and temperamental

There are suspicions that the substances involved in pigmentation also play a role in pain registration in the brain. This could explain why so many people think redheads are more sensitive to pain.

Dr. Edwin Liem conducted a study that showed that redheads need 20% more anesthetics to stay under anesthesia than other people. Again, the correlation can be explained from genetic mutation.

Because redheads may be more sensitive to pain, it may be that adrenaline levels in the blood are higher, causing redheads to have more temperament.

Is red hair beautiful?

Red hair is a striking and unusual color, which makes people think something about it. Positive and negative reactions depend on fashion and time. Over the years, there have been several reversals in thinking about red hair. In the past, red hair was sometimes associated with witchcraft, but among the Romans, slaves with red hair were fashionable for a time. A generation or two back, people were still scolded for “lighthouse” or worse, but you don’t hear that anymore. With the right choice of clothing for red hair, your hair can stand out beautifully.

These days, red hair is all the rage again. It’s “hot” to stand out and be special.

Hairdresser near you

Don’t have red hair but would like to? Then go to a hairdresser near you and get it dyed red! Check out the map below for a hairdresser near you.


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