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Why Is Red Hair So Rare? 3 Facts You Might Not Know

Why Do Redheads Make Up Less Than 2% of the Population?

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We all know redheads are rare and make up less than 2% of the world’s population, but why are redheads rare? The truth is, there’s not just one reason. A number of factors come into play when you look at the probability of someone being born with red hair:

1. Having red hair is a recessive trait 

Probably the biggest reason redheads are rare is red hair is a recessive trait, so the odds are not in your favor. Like other recessive traits, this means the people who possess that trait are in the minority. For example, being left-handed is recessive and only about 10% of the population is. 

READ: Redheads, Do You Have These Other Recessive Traits? 

2. The redhead gene must be carried by both parents

Both parents don’t have to be redheads themselves, but they do both have to carry the gene. Because the gene is recessive, it’s hard to know who carries it and who doesn’t. The gene can skip one or more generations or even lay dormant for decades before popping back up. 

READ: How and Why Does Red Hair Skip Generations? 

3. Red hair might not “show” how you think 

Lots of people have different ideas as to what qualifies as a redhead. Some people may not consider strawberry blonde to be red hair, and others may only consider you a redhead if the hair on your head is red but won’t account for facial hair in men. Since we don’t really know what the qualifiers are for being counted as a redhead, there may be more out there than we think. 

READ: 6 Magnificent Shades of the Red Color Palette 

Rock it like a Redhead! 

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