Being A Redhead Comes With Some Big Perks, Science Says

Photographed by BriAnne Wills.
According to studies done over decades – and collected in Erin La Rosa's new title, The Big Redhead Book – there are quite a few perks to being a redhead. Who would have thought that your hair natural hair colour could mean so much?
Natural redheads make up a mere 2 percent of the population and it's all due to the MC1R gene mutation. It turns out, there are a few benefits to the mutation that science only discovered recently. Studies show that this same gene is responsible for having a higher threshold for pain and needing less vitamin D. A 2003 study at McGill University showed that redheaded women can tolerate up to 25 percent more pain than people with other hair colours. As a result, this also makes it harder to sedate redheads using general anaesthesia during surgery. In fact, The University of Louisville found that it takes approximately 20 percent more.
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Redheads have a greater ability to produce vitamin D. This is due to the highest concentration of people with red hair and pale skin living in cloudier, European regions which has resulted in the unique adaptation. While helpful in its own right, higher levels of vitamin D also make it less likely for them to get arthritis and diabetes.
It may come as a surprise, but not all redheads have fair skin. People with darker skin can also be born with red hair. Hawaiians have a word, "ehu," for Polynesians with red hair. Folklore claims that they're descendants of fire gods.
While they might not actually be descendants of flaming deities, redheads are more sensitive to hot and cold temperatures. The University of Louisville conducted a study in 2005 that found a correlation between red hair and temperature sensitivity. Scientists believe it could be a result of the MC1R gene causing the human temperature-detecting gene to become over-activated.
But the benefits of being a redhead aren't all scientific: They're also more popular in commercials. Upstream Analysis published a report in 2014 which found that 30 percent of TV commercials running during prime time feature a redhead. A one point, CBS had a redhead prominently featured every 106 seconds.
If all this talk of red hair is making you want to book an appointment with your stylist, just know that red is the hardest colour to maintain, as it fades much faster than other colours. In an interview with InStyle, celebrity stylist Danny Moon explained that the reason why red is such a hard colour to maintain is because the dye molecules are larger than other hues, making it more difficult to penetrate hair strands than colours with smaller molecules.
But unfortunately, the perks don't come with the dye job.
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