Can Black People Have Red Hair? Facts Vs Myths

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can black people have red hair

Less than 2% of people in the world have red hair with the highest prevalence of redheads being in Scotland.

Do you know what’s even rarer? Finding black people with red hair!

For some strange reason, many people believe that black people can only have one color of hair, black.

But as we’ve seen in our article about black people with blonde hair, this isn’t true.

Black people with red hair exist but they are extremely rare.

In this article we will explore:

  • Can black people have naturally red hair
  • What causes red hair?
  • Other populations with red hair
  • How to take care of naturally red hair.

Can Black People Have Red Hair?

Though red hair appears to be common among people of European ancestry, some black people have this trait.

Therefore, black people can have red hair but it is a rare characteristic.

Black people with red hair are scattered across the world, however some populations in northern Africa and the Caribbean islands have been seen to have a higher prevalence of red hair.

These include the Berber population in Morocco and the people from northern Algeria.  

The redhead trait can be caused by a variety of reasons, which we will discuss below.

What Causes Red Hair?

#1. Genetics

A mutation in the MCR1 gene may cause one to develop red hair.

The pigment pheomelanin has to be in greater amounts than the pigment eumelanin for hair to be red. Both pigments are responsible for the color of skin and hair.

The production of either pigments is regulated by the MCR1 gene. A mutation in the gene causes more production of pheomelanin than eumelanin causing hair to be red. [1]

This also causes people with red hair to be pale and more susceptible to UV rays. This mutation is thought to be an adaptation to the dark, cold climates in the North.

One can obtain this gene variant from their parents, but both parents have to have it to pass it on to their child. 

A study was done in 2018 by Edinburgh University also revealed that apart from the MCR1 gene variant, there are so many genes that play a role in a person’s hair becoming red. [2]

#2. Albinism

Albinism is an inherited trait where there is little production of melanin in the skin, hair, and eyes.

People with this condition usually have fair skin and light-colored hair. 

Rufous albinism is a type of albinism that usually affects black people. This type of albinism causes a mutation in the TPYR1 gene which is involved in the formation of red hair. [3]

#3. Historical Interactions

It’s believed that the red-haired people in the Caribbean might have had interactions with the Europeans hence inherited the trait.

During the 1600s, catholic Irish people were sent to the Caribbean islands to act as servants.

These Irish people may have interacted with the Caribbean natives, leaving them with the red hair trait in their genes. 

#4. Mixed Genes

Another reason that a person may have red hair is if they have a mixed lineage.

As we saw earlier, red hair is most common in people of European descent.

Black people who are of mixed race have a high chance of inheriting this trait, especially if they have a European parent. 

Interesting Facts about People with Red Hair

  • As they age, redheads tend to have white and not grey hair.
  • People with red hair are more sensitive to pain. This is caused by a mutated gene that responds to pain differently.
  • Red hair is the rarest color of hair in humans with only 1% to 2% of the world’s population. Black people occupy a small percentage of that.
  • Redheads can produce vitamin D under low light conditions.
  • They are also more sensitive to the UV rays of the sun than other people.

Other Populations With Red Hair

People in northern and western Europe have red hair, with the highest number being in Scotland and Ireland . Other populations that have the trait include:

  • Eastern Europe in the Volga region of Russia and the Jewish
  • Southern Europe in Italy
  • All regions of Asia
  • Americas

How to Take Care of Hair That is Naturally Red

1. Use Hydrating Hair Products

To combat dryness, use hair products that add moisture to your hair.

This means that every time you wash your hair you will have to condition to add on that extra moisture.

You might also want to invest in a good hair mask. A hair mask contains rich and nourishing ingredients to help keep your hair in its best condition.

2. Wash hair mindfully

Red hair tends to be prone to dryness hence shampooing it too often will only make the situation worse. 

3. Limit sun exposure 

When going out in the sun, make sure that you cover yourself up to avoid getting sun damage. 

4. Wear protective hairstyles

Protective styles such as two strand twists, knotless braids, wigs and more, will help keep your hair protected.

These styles keep your hair tucked away and free from manipulation.

5. Use a wooden brush

Redheads tend to have thick strands hence products, especially oils, maybe be unevenly distributed during application.

Using a wooden brush to gently comb through your hair will help to ensure that the products get to each strand of your hair.

6. Be gentle when drying the hair

Drying the wrong way may cause damage to your hair. To avoid this, gently use a microfiber towel to work through your hair and ensure each part is dried.

If you choose to blow dry it instead, remember to use a heat protectant and the low heat setting.

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