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16 fun facts about redheads to mark World Redhead Day on May 26

Hey redheads, Wednesday, May 26 is YOUR day!

WASHINGTON — If you've got red hair, it's your time to celebrate because World Redhead Day is Wednesday, May 26.

While National Love Your Red Hair Day pops up every November, redheads also get another unofficial holiday each May. It's not clear where this holiday got its start, but it's become an integral part of the unofficial holiday calendar.

So to help everyone celebrate, here are some fun facts about redheads:

How many redheads are there?

Less than 2% of the world's population has red hair. The highest concentration of redheads is in Scotland (13%), followed by Ireland (10%). From 2010-2016, the Irish Redhead Convention brought thousands of redheads together each summer to celebrate. The festival included competitions for the longest hair and longest beards, along with crowning a redhead king and queen.

Rarest kind of redhead

Having red hair and blue eyes is the rarest hair/eye color combination possible. The odds of a person having both of those recessive traits is around 0.17%. Instead, most redheads have brown, hazel or green eyes, according to Medical Daily.

Are redheads more delicate?

Researchers believe redheads are more sensitive to pain because of a mutation in a gene (MC1R) that affects hair color. A 2004 study showed that redheads, on average, need about 20% more general anesthesia than people with dark hair or blonde color.

Are redheads mostly left- or right-handed?

A lot of redheads also wind up being left-handed! Researchers believe one explanation is that both of those characteristics are recessive traits and those often come in pairs. Those lucky people get to celebrate World Redhead Day (May 26), Love Your Red Hair Day (Nov. 5) and International Left-Handers Day (Aug. 13).

Credit: Cookie Studio - stock.adobe.com
Portrait of beautiful happy cheerful redhead girl with flyingcurly hair smiling laughing looking at camera over white background.

Redhead genetics

In a 2018 study, scientists discovered eight genes that are linked to red hair. Before it was believed that only one gene, MC1R, controlled red hair color, but now research shows there are other genes involved.

Both parents must carry the redhead gene for a baby to have red hair. In order for a baby to have red hair, different versions of genes called alleles need to be present in both, according to Stanford University. Even if a parent doesn’t have red hair, they can still pass on a red hair allele to their child.

Fun facts about red hair strands

Redheads have less hair and thicker strands than most people. On average, it’s believed that those with red hair have 90,000 strands, while blondes have around 110,000 and brunettes have 140,000.

Redheads are less likely to go grey. The pigment in red hair typically fades over time from red to blonde and white, but not grey.

Redheads produce more Vitamin D in a shorter amount of time than people with other hair colors.

Why does it seem like lots of redheads are in commercials?

There are proportionately more redheads featured in commercials than there are in the world. A 2014 study found that 30% of ads during primetime hours included someone with red hair.

Redheads and cancer

When it comes to skin cancer, redheads are at a higher risk than the rest of the population. A 2016 study found having red hair increased a person’s cancer risk as much as an extra 21 years of exposure to the sun.

Being a man with red hair though could mean a lower risk for prostate cancer. A study from the British Journal of Cancer found men with naturally red hair were 54% less likely to develop prostate cancer, compared to other men with blonde, brown or black hair.

Are redheads going extinct?

Despite plenty of debunked “studies” that pop up around the internet every few years, redheads are not going extinct.

Isn't there another holiday for redheads in November? 

National Love Your Red Hair Day, which occurs in November, was founded by Stephanie and Adrienne Vendetti in 2011. The natural redheaded sisters said they started the holiday to “empower every redhead to feel confident, to look amazing and to rock their beauty,” according to their website.

The push for a National Love Your Red Hair Day came after the Vendetti sisters noticed a rise in bullying of people with red hair. So, they decided to create a day that gave redheads a chance to love their hair.

New Zealand’s Redhead Days Festival is known as the world’s largest annual gathering of redheads. The 2020 event was canceled, due to the coronavirus pandemic, but organizers plan to celebrate the festival’s 15th anniversary in August 2021.