Do you have red hair? Here’s what it says about you (according to science)

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Kayleigh Dray
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It’s official: being a redhead makes you truly unique.

In fact, scientists have now confirmed that your red hair sets you apart from everyone else in a multitude of different ways – particularly when it comes to how you experience the world.

For example, redheads are more sensitive to the cold. So, when temperatures dip, you’re far more likely to feel the chill – which might explain why you spend much of your time shivering under the air-con at work.

Similarly, scientists have proven that people with red hair are more sensitive to pain. Some studies have even shown that redheads may require more anesthesia during surgery as a result of this.

So why is this? Well, a new study says it’s all down to the chemistry of your genetic make-up.

Dr Jonathan D Barry has penned an entire report on the medical needs of people with red hair. In layman’s terms, your natural red hair is all down to a protein called MC1R, which affects pigmentation.

Barry determines that “the genetic basis of red hair was identified in 1997 in association with the melanocortin-1 receptor (MC1R) located on chromosome 16.”

He continues: “Two copies of a recessive gene on chromosome 16 changes the MC1R protein leading to the red hair phenotype.”

And many experts think that MC1R expresses itself in a part of the brain that deals with sensation – which, in turn, could lead to heightened sensitivity.

YouTube show Reactions has created a video about the subject, and it explains: “MC1R is expressed in the neurons of the periaqueductal grey – an ancient part of the brain that governs pain sensation.

“Genetic variants may heighten this neural activity, giving redheads’ a different sensitivity.”

Watch the video below to find out more:

So your red hair really does make you special – particularly as it is, by far, the world’s rarest hair colour. And, while redheads are often stereotyped as stubborn, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

As a matter of fact, that resoluteness is linked to a particular quality of your tresses; red hair doesn’t go grey easily, and the strands of hair hang onto the colour for a long time, even if it becomes slightly faded.

And, if you weren’t born with your red hair, it’s worth remembering that you still have the chance to become a special member of the follicle gang. Colour expert Jacob Olesen has recently penned a piece which claims that your hair colour “actually influences our blood pressure.”

He adds: “So, if you colour your hair… you will likely influence your behaviour and, after awhile, even adopt the stereotypes associated with it.”

All hail redheads, natural and not-quite-so natural...

Images: Rex Features


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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.