People who have red hair often get the attention of others, largely because it is a relatively rare color these days, and a beautiful color to boot.

Most people have the idea that people with red hair originate from Ireland or Scotland, but they would actually be wrong in that assumption.

The truth is, red hair has existed for a much longer period of time, dating all the way back to prehistoric times. So, if this is true, then how do people get red hair today?

Even more importantly, why is red hair so rare? It might surprise you to learn that it is more prevalent than assumed, if you consider that a lot of people who carry the genes for red hair are carriers who do not actually possess red hair themselves.

Despite the somewhat common ability for people in various parts of the world to carry this gene, hair that is red is still relatively unique. For many people who really want the color, it is now achieved with ease through artificial means by way of dye.

However, anyone that can lay claim to hair that is naturally red should be proud of their locks as opposed to wishing they had hair of a different color. It is truly lovely.

So How Do People Get Red Hair?

As you might have guessed by now, red hair is caused by a genetic mutation. While some people might consider something like a genetic mutation to be a negative trait, that is certainly not the case with those individuals who possess red hair.

It is interesting to note that the color actually appears because of proteins that are responsible for coloring both the hair and the skin. In affected individuals, these proteins are less effective, thereby resulting in the lighter red hair that first originated from Neanderthals. Red hair goes back far beyond nationality.

While no one can be entirely certain of exactly when the first individual appeared with red hair, it is obvious that this genetic mutation has been in existence for a very long time, long before so many people started to associate natural red hair with the countries of Ireland and Scotland. But time has a funny way of remembering hair.

Why Is Red Hair So Rare?

Without a doubt, this is not a genetic mutation that occurs very often. This is especially true when you consider the vast number of individuals in the world who have varying degrees of blonde or brunette coloring in their hair and then compare them with the number of people who have naturally red hair.

In addition, many people still associate redheads with the countries of Ireland and Scotland, despite its true origins. This is probably because about ten percent of the population in Ireland has naturally red hair, with slightly fewer individuals in Scotland inheriting this specific genetic mutation. That's a lot of redheads.

Despite the relatively low numbers of people who have red hair, even in those countries that are most associated with it, this still accounts for the overwhelming majority of redheads throughout the world.

However, fewer occurrences of red hair do occasionally occur elsewhere. For example, redheads can be found in Asia and the Middle East, thereby proving that it is possible for virtually anyone in any region of the world to carry this genetic trait.

The Gene Is More Common Than You Think

If you go by the number of people you see who have red hair, you will undoubtedly think that this genetic mutation is extremely rare. However, that is not necessarily the case. In reality, there are more people that carry this gene than most know.

This is largely because a rather significant contingent of the population who are affected by this gene are carriers. In other words, they carry the gene without displaying the characteristic red hair.

This can go on for many generations without anyone in the family actually having red hair, until at last, someone displays the characteristics of the genetic mutation.

Red Hair Is Still Unique

It seems like a lot of people that have naturally red hair actually wish they had hair of a different color. This is probably because redheads have a tendency to be singled out by other individuals, in most cases for no other reason then the unique color of their hair.

There are all kinds of myths about redheads that obviously have nothing to do with the genetic mutation that causes red hair or anything else.

Despite the fact that individuals who have naturally red hair might not always enjoy it, many people that don't have this genetic mutation actually wish they did.

Brunettes and blondes have a tendency to wish for red hair even while those who have it are wishing their hair was a different color. It is important to remember that hair which is red in color is extremely unique, and as such, it has a tendency to set the individuals who possess it apart from others.

Sometimes this is intentional and sometimes it happens completely by accident. However, there is no denying the truth that people have a tendency to remember individuals with red hair slightly better than others because they don't really run into that many people that have it in the first place.

Final Thoughts

It is highly unlikely that most people will change their perceptions about red hair, redheads, or the origin of the color itself just because they are reading this article.

However, it's interesting to know that red hair has been around for so long. Perhaps the color should be thought of as a throwback to a time that has long passed, giving credence to the fact that certain genetic traits survive, generation after generation.

Whatever the case may be, there are people who love having naturally red hair. The drive and determination that is expressed in most redheads just might be similar to the qualities that were required for one’s very survival so long ago.

For those rather limited individuals who are fortunate enough to have red hair that is natural, it is important to remember not only their heritage, but also the uniqueness of their physical traits, including the lovely color of their hair.