On Redheads and the Dodo Bird
At our Namaste hair salons in Denver, we offer a variety of hair care services including coloring, styling, design and botanical hair therapy treatments. We get a lot of clients with different hair colors – both natural and dyed.
So we were curious when some recent research came out that the redhead gene may be going extinct! Are Nicole Kidman, Kate Mara and Sissy Spacek, to say nothing of Conan O’Brien, to go the way of the dodo bird? Are redheads doomed by climate change? So say a group of scientists studying the effect of global warming on genes and human evolution.
With the changing climate worldwide, the gene that causes red hair, MC1R on chromosome 16 to be exact, might have outlived its usefulness. Weather changes will mean either more cloudiness or less cloudiness, both of which would have a significant effect on the usefulness of this gene in human evolution.
The origins of redheads
The theory is that centuries ago in northern climates, this gene became more prominent to because it helped people get more Vitamin D. Red hair goes with lighter skin. The lighter the skin, the easier it is for the human body to absorb the vitamin D from sunlight. This is why, it is believed, that redheads are commonly found in Scotland, Wales, northern England, Ireland and Germany.
But the research isn’t conclusive and scientists aren’t in agreement with each other. The recent spate of new stories about redhead extinction created a flurry of interest, but it has been further reported that the original study was done by the Oxford Hair Foundation, funded by hair dye giant Proctor and Gamble. Some scientists are claiming the research is highly suspect.
The 40 million redheads worldwide can breathe a sigh of relief.
Myths and facts
Redheads are famous in literature for their high spirits and blazing furies. Sometimes known as carrot tops or gingers, they have been treated as special throughout the ages. The ancient Romans even charged more for redheaded slaves.
Though challenged by redheads themselves, certain myths have grown up around them, including:
- they are unlucky
- bees sting them more often
- they are hybrids of the couplings of aliens and early humans
There is no need for myths, the facts about redheads are interesting enough. Did you know:
- They are more prone to skin cancer. Their light skin makes them extremely susceptible to the harmful effects of the sun’s UV rays.
- They are more sensitive to physical pain, especially extremes of hot and cold. As a rule, in surgery they require about one-fifth more anesthesia than people with another color of hair.
- They make their own Vitamin D when exposed to conditions with low levels of light.
- Those who also have blue eyes are part of a very select group. This is the most rare combination of hair and eye colors among humans, about 1% of the population.
Natural red hair has its own characteristics, quite distinct from other colors. Stylists have long known that it is harder to dye the hair of a redhead than it is a blonde or brunette.
Redheads have fewer strands of hair on their heads, though each is thicker to compensate. Red hair doesn’t simply go grey. Instead it fades slowly to a shade of rose and finally to silver or white. So relax redheads, you don’t have anything to worry about.
Aveda makes special products for red heads. It’s called the Madder Root Shampoo and Madder Root Conditioner. The fun name aside, it keeps your red highlights around for much longer. Speak with your stylist for more information.