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

Non-redheads can birth redheads. Red hair is recessive via inheritance. Both parents must have this gene variation to pass it on. Importantly, ginger parents don't have to have red hair.

Rarest pairing: red hair and blue eyes The MC1R gene controls hair, skin, and eye color. For redheads, the MC1R gene has a mutation or multiple. Redheads are scarce because of it. Genetic stars aligned for red hair and blue eyes, the rarest hair and eye color combination.  

Redheads have a future. Redheads are here to stay, even though red is the rarest hair color. About 2% of the population are gingers, therefore 158 million live on Earth. Ireland has the most redheads—10%.

More redheads get skin cancer. "There's no question that red-haired individuals are at a much higher risk for skin cancer than brown-haired individuals," says Denver dermatologist Gregory Papadeas, DO, retired Colorado Dermatologic Society president.  

Redheads have more gynecological malignancies. A comprehensive 2017 PLOS One research found that female redheads are more likely to develop cervical, uterine, and ovarian malignancies.

Some redheads age faster. In 2016, Current Biology reported that people with two copies of the red-haired MC1R gene appeared two years older than those without. This was similar to smoking's influence on perceived age, the authors found.

Redheads tolerate pain better. Studies show that red-haired women have a higher pain threshold. "The pain threshold is the limit from where you don't feel anything to where you just start to feel pain," says MSGH dermatology chief David Fisher, MD, PhD, who has studied red-haired people.

However, redheads may need more anesthetic. Studies show that redheads may have a better pain tolerance, but they may also perceive pain differently and require alternative pain management.  

Vitamin D is higher in redheads. UVB solar rays create vitamin D, which is needed for bone health. A 2020 study in Experimental Dermatology reported higher amounts of calcidiol in redheads, suggesting gingers may manufacture more vitamin D than other hair hues.  

Some consider redheads more volatile. Yes, redhead personality and attractiveness have been studied. Researchers had the identical woman sit in nightclubs with blonde, brunette, or red hair. Men approached her more often when blonde.  

Women with red hair may have more kids. The PLOS One study co-authored by Frost found that redheads may have more children despite reproductive issues. Some factors may explain this, but none are conclusive: Redheads have kids early.

Intimacy may be more for redheads. Some research suggests that red-haired women are more sexually active, but experts doubt it's related to their partner. Redheaded women had more sexual desire, more sexual activity, and more sexual partners