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Hair + Beauty

Red Hair PSA: We’re Shapeshifters Because Lighting Makes a Big Difference

Depending on lighting, your hair may look dark brown or even blonde.

red hair color

Shapeshifter definition: the ability of an imaginary person or creature to change itself into a different shape or form.

Have you ever had someone tell you your hair looked brown? Or even strawberry blonde? But also told your hair is “so orange” or “vibrantly red”? It’s almost like redheads can be told they’re all of the above depending on lighting, clothing color choices, makeup and many other factors.

Welcome to #redheadproblems. Brianna Badley (@clownmakeupmua), a natural redhead and makeup artist made a video that perfectly sums it up: 

The video shows different pictures of her natural red hair in different lighting on different days and shows how different the color can look. This is something many of us many have noticed, and as Brianna puts it, it seems like our hair is shapeshifting. Why is that?

The common sense reasoning behind red hair “metamorphosing” into different shades

We have a feeling it’s because red hair is made up of so many different colors. If you take a chunk of your red hair and look at each strand, you’ll notice some are lighter, some are darker. Some may appear more “brown” while others look “blonde.” Some redheads even look like they have natural highlights in their hair because of the different colors. Red hair is very dimensional in its color — it’s one of the reasons we should all love our unique shades of red hair.

As these different colors pick up the light, it can make your red hair look more like one color or another. Your hair will look different in the sunlight than it does in indoor lighting, and even different types of indoor lighting can change how your hair looks. Additionally, your surroundings and the clothing you wear can change how your hair looks from day to day.

The science behind red hair “metamorphosing” into different shades

The color of an object, including red hair, is influenced by the wavelengths of light it absorbs and reflects. Red hair contains pigments, such as pheomelanin, which reflects red and orange wavelengths.

In different lighting conditions, the spectrum of light may vary. Natural sunlight has a full spectrum, while artificial lighting, like fluorescent or incandescent bulbs, might have a different balance of wavelengths. This variance in light sources can lead to color shifts, making red hair look warmer or cooler depending on the dominant wavelengths present.

Additionally, the angle of light and the surrounding environment can play a role. Shadows and reflections can alter the perceived color of red hair. So, the interplay between the hair’s pigments, the light source, and the environment collectively contributes to the color variations observed in different lighting situations.

Redheads are so unique and this “shapeshifting” of our hair color is just one more unique thing to love about us. 

Rock it like a Redhead! 


READ: Reddit User Shares How Much Her Red Hair Has Faded From Age 16 to Age 27

Main Image: Brianna Badley