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Red: A sought-after hair color seen naturally on the heads of only 2 percent of the world’s population. It’s a rare color, and it is often a package deal complete with fair skin and freckles. However, there are a lot of things that gingers and non-redheads alike don’t know about the unique shade. For instance, redheads are more sensitive to pain, require more anesthesia, and don’t go gray. Additionally, there are a variety of celebrations dedicated to people with red hair. Here’s a complete guide to what it means to be a redhead, written by one herself!

redheaded stranger restaurant sign

Redheads rule — we even have a restaurant named after us. Here I am in front of Redheaded Stranger, a new Nashville restaurant. Image: Mary Blake Graves

Only Two Percent are Gingers

With only 2 percent of the world’s population having red hair, it’s true that naturally red hair is a rare occurrence. Where does red hair come from? A mutation in the MC1R gene discovered in 2000, aka “the ginger gene.” For a child to have red hair, both parents must be at least carriers of this mutation. Even then, there is only a one-in-four chance red hair will appear. As it stands, Scotland has the highest concentration of red hair, at 13 percent.

Handle With Care

Gingers are commonly associated with sunburns and freckles – as a freckled and fair-skinned ginger myself, I can confirm this generalization. Redheads often have less melanin in their skin. In other words, pale skin has less natural protection from the sun. Unless I want to sport a burnt red hue on my skin, I better lather up in SPF 30 at a minimum! My favorite sunscreen brands include Banana Boat, Neutrogena, and Supergoop.

In addition to sun sensitivity, redheads are also more sensitive to pain. While the research is fairly new, it has been shown that people with red hair require about 20 percent more anesthesia than non-redheads. If you’re a redhead and plan on getting surgery anytime soon, be sure to talk to your doctor about this topic.

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This paraben, fragrance and oxybenzone free sunscreen ($48) is redhead-approved. Image: Nordstrom

What to Wear

Having red hair can be a statement in itself, so thinking about what colors to wear can be a bit challenging. What goes with ginger locks? More than you think! I used to steer away from colors for fear of clashing. As it turns out, wearing color compliments red hair nicely. For instance, green and blue add contrast to red hair and make it pop. Additionally, wearing black and white let red hair shine as a statement color. Lastly, don’t listen to people who say gingers can’t wear red. In my opinion, it is one of the best colors to wear! It pairs well with fair skin, and it boldly enhances any ginger hue.

Ageless Coloring

Speaking of colors, one transformation many people go through as they age is hair color change. While most heads turn gray with age, it is said that redheads don’t. People with red hair maintain their pigment for longer. When the color does change, red turns to rose gold, and then white. Talk about forever young!

RELATED: Is Your Hair Aging You?

Cool blue tones tastefully contrast with the warm tones of red hair.

woman with red hair

The green and red accents of this dress make her auburn locks pop.

red-haired woman smiling

Any color will stand out when paired with white, especially bright red hair.

Legendary Redheads

Redheads have been marveled at throughout history due to their unique hue. The same is true today. For example, you may have seen famous gingers Emma Stone, Julianne Moore, and Conan O’Brien on the big screen. You may have also seen one of Vincent Van Gogh’s self-portraits or Sandro Botticelli’s depiction of Venus in The Birth of Venus. Joining these people as legendary gingers are Socrates, Galileo, and Thomas Jefferson. In addition, Queen Elizabeth I, Mark Twain, and King Arthur were also redheads. That’s quite the impressive list!

Time to Celebrate

For a color so unique, there must be some sort of celebration! And indeed, there are numerous redhead festivals and events that take place throughout the year and around the world. For instance, Gingerfest is hosted in Boise, Idaho, complete with games and live music. Additionally, London hosts Big Ginger Night Out and Redhead Day. Milan, Italy, even has Rossitalia, a celebration with a yearly color theme! Check out some more ginger celebrations HERE.

van-gough self-portrait with red hair

Van Gogh painted several self-portraits that showcase his striking red hair. Image: National Gallery of Art

gingerfest poster

Join in with the live music, games, and food at Gingerfest in Boise, Idaho! Image: Gingerfest

Italians with red hair gather at the annual Rossitalia

Hands up if you’re a redhead! Rossitalia, a redhead festival that takes place in Milan, Italy, has a yearly color theme. Image: Rossitalia

From health concerns to fashion statements, there is a lot that comes with being a redhead. Gingers and non-gingers alike: have these fun facts in your back pocket to pull out when you need them, whether it be at the doctor’s office or a dinner party!

To find out more about Redheaded Stranger, a new Nashville hot-spot mentioned in the first photo, read about it HERE!


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