Hair color is as a result eumelanin and pheomelanin which are types of melanin. Red hair is as a result of a genetic variant that causes the cell to produce pheomelanin. The genetic variant causes MC1R to function differently on melanocytes, leading to less eumelanin and more pheomelanin.
Red Hair Population
It is estimated that approximately 2% of the world’s population has naturally red hair. The majority of red haired individuals are of northern and western European ancestry. Western Europe has more red haired people than any other part of the world. Approximately 6% of the Scottish population has red hair while about 10% of the Irish population has red hair, making it the most red-haired country in the world. Red hair prevalence in England is about 4%.
In Africa, red hair has been noticed on the Berber of Algeria and Morocco. Also, Riffians and Kabyles in Morocco and Algeria respectively have red hair among them. Interestingly, Lalla Salma, the Queen of Morocco, is also a redhead. Some Ashkenazi Jews also have red hair. According to some studies, about 3.6% of the Jewish women have red hair while 10% of the Jewish men have red beards.
In Asia, natural red hair is very rare and was historically found mainly among the Tocharians. However, reddish-brown hair is common among Syrians, Lebanese, Jordan, and Palestinians. In the Americas, the emigration of Europeans has influenced the red haired population. Approximately 2-6% of the US population is redheaded, giving the US the largest redhead population in the world at 6-18 million people.
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