Rocking Red Locks? Thank Your Parents
There are many pet names for this the red hair hue, do you rock red locks? Regardless of your preferred pet name, you’ll find there’s one adjective that describes it best: rare. While it’s not entirely uncommon to encounter redheads, many people sport this head-turning look courtesy of a box or bottle. Natural redheads account for only 1 to 2 percent of the population!
The Pigment Part of the Puzzle
One’s hair color is determined by the concentration of eumelanin and pheomelanin pigments in hair strands. Eumelanin is responsible for the darkness or lightness of hair, and people with very low eumelanin concentrations have blonde hair, while those with very high concentrations have black hair. Pheomelanin contributes the red shading, and blondes and brunettes often have traces of pheomelanin that deliver subtle hints of red (for instance strawberry blonde and auburn). A fully red head of hair is rare, and only when the stars align just right — or in this case, the genes — is that distinctive, red hue born.
A Fortuitous Mutation
While the word “mutation” typically conjures images of deformities and disfigurements, a mutation is precisely what’s responsible for stunning red hair. Red hair is caused by a mutation in a gene known as the melanocortin 1 receptor, aka MC1R. In “normal” people, MC1R converts pheomelanin (the red pigment) into eumelanin (the darkness-determining pigment); to get red hair, a person must possess not one but two mutant MC1R genes — one mutant gene from each parent. This double mutation prevents the MC1R gene from converting pheomelanin to eumelanin, and the resulting high concentration of pheomelanin in the body yields deep red hair, freckles and a fair skin tone. Since red hair requires a double mutation of the MC1R gene, it’s entirely possible for a couple with no redheads in the family to produce a child with red hair. Isn’t science strange and beautiful?
Do You Rock Red Hair? Here Are A Few Fun Facts!
True redheads are rare in appearance and also possess unique characteristics related to their pigmentation. Redheads:
- Are more sensitive to heat and cold,
- Are less prone to going gray,
- Have fewer (but thicker) hair strands, and
- Have the ability to produce Vitamin D.
In a world where people long to stand out and be unique, it’s no wonder that about 25 percent of people who dye their hair select a reddish hue. Redheads are often emulated but can never be truly duplicated!
Here at Invisions we understand that hair loss can prevent many from either having their true red hair or even the opportunity to try a red hair style! If you are a person that is experiencing hair loss and would love to style and color your hair like you use to, then come visit us. To schedule your free visit click here
Photo Credit: Enrique Guadiz via Flickr Creative Commons