Myths about redheads you always thought were true

A redheaded woman's face


redheaded stepchild. The insatiable ginger girl-next-door. The wimpy redhead
who can’t handle going to the dentist. The list of stereotypes and myths about
our beloved red-haired brethren go on for miles, often maligning those with a
fiery crown of flowing locks. For as long as human culture has been documented,
redheads have walked among us, often bearing the brunt of the ire of everyone
else’s perception of them. And for as many freckles that dot their skin, so too
are there weird falsehoods in circulation, speculating about everything from
the most intimate details to the most obvious things.
it should come as no surprise that many of the weird rumors and legends that
are propagated about gingers aren’t always true. So while our redheaded friends
really have been persecuted both in history and in contemporary society,
they’re not stealing souls while you sleep, nor do they turn into vampires when
they die. They’re also not ready to burst into a tantrum at the tiniest provocation.
on as we bust all of the myths about redheads you always thought were true.
gingers are Caucasian

A ginger woman of color

you think of famous redheads, who pops to mind first? Perhaps you think of
Rupert Grint, who portrayed Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter film franchise.
Maybe the face of Jessica Chastain is the first image your memory recalls, or
even Prince Harry. Of course, there’s one thing all of these fiery souls have
in common: They’re white.
just because many of the famous redheads out there are fair-skinned and have
Eurocentric features doesn’t mean that all gingers do. In fact, there are
plenty of folks who have red hair and are of color, according to The Big
Redhead Book: Inside the Secret Society of Red Hair by Erin La Rosa. In it, she
writes, “Though red hair isn’t limited to Caucasian people — there
are gingers of color naturally occurring in places like Morocco, Papua New
Guinea, and elsewhere.” That’s right — gingers are everywhere!
reason for the spread of the redheaded phenotype is due to genetics and
migration, according to Barry Starr, a geneticist from Stanford University.
“Red hair carriers in the Caribbean and Africa are for the most part due
to migration or gene flow,” he explained to Vice. Fascinating!
have fiery tantrums

An irritated redheaded woman

you’ve heard the myth that all redheads have not just a short fuse but also a
fiery temper. Or perhaps you think that they tend to be bolder and brasher in
general and are quick to act on their impulses. After all, the color red is
often associated with strong emotions like passion — hence the red boxes of
candy that litter the shelves every Valentine’s Day.
the reality is that redheads are inherently no more prone to explosive anger or
even curt crankiness than anyone else. They are unfortunately more susceptible
than others to being bullied, according to the BBC, so perhaps there’s some
psychology at work that reinforces the stereotype — constant bullying
certainly can have an impact on victims.
there are some other interesting factors at work here. Redheads do produce more
adrenaline than others, according to Red: A History of the Redhead
by Jacky Colliss Harvey, which means they “fire up more rapidly than
others.” And there may be a link between red hair and both Tourette’s
syndrome and ADHD. So perhaps these play a factor in the stereotype.

can’t stay calm in a crisis

A worried redheaded woman

gingers are more prone to possessing a fiery temper, as the stereotype
suggests, so to must they be a hot mess in emergency situations. All of that
adrenaline rushing in will no doubt make them lose their minds and start
freaking out about the situation as opposed to keeping calm and getting through
it, right?
that couldn’t be further from the truth. That’s because not only do gingers
produce more adrenaline in general, but they also can access it faster than
blondes or brunettes, according to Red: A History of the Redhead. And
because they can synthesize the hormone more quickly, that makes them more
adept in fight-or-flight scenarios. So they’d definitely have a head start
while being chased by a bear or getting away from some bad dudes while you
straggle behind them.
when you’re assembling your survival squad for the zombie apocalypse, be sure
to include a ginger or two — they just might save your life! 
get it on all the time

Redheaded woman kissing a man

pervasive myth about redheads, especially female redheads, is that they’re
utterly insatiable in bed and kinky as all heck. You only need to look
at Alyson Hannigan’s character in American Pie to see the stereotype in
action. While she’s pretty nerdy for most of the film, she turns into a wild
sexpot toward the end. And of course, her character’s line about the flute is
pretty hard to forget.
not just in the media that redheads are painted as nymphomaniacs who will lure
you into bed after the first date. There’s also a widely cited study by
a German sex researcher by the name of Dr. Werner Habermehl that
confirms that gingers are more sexually active than blondes or brunettes. But
according to The Big Redhead Book, the study wasn’t published in any reputable
journals, and it didn’t it provide any information about who this so-called scientist
is. It also didn’t address natural vs. dyed hair — sounds like there’s
something fishy going on, for sure.
a scientifically sound study to prove that gingers get it on more often,
there’s just no corroborating the age-old rumor.

have more orgasms than regular folk

Two pairs of feet in bed

with the idea that gingers get more booty is also the assumption that they
climax more often than the rest of us. Indeed that was proven to be true by a
study conducted by, which found that redheaded women are more likely
to get there when they’re between the sheets. Of course, tons of media outlets
jumped on this, furthering the notion that gingers have some pretty sexy
that might not really be the case, according to The Big Redhead Book. That’s
because, according to author Erin La Rosa, there are some fundamental flaws
with how the study was conducted. For one, of the 5,300 people who participated
in it, only 186 of them said they were ginger ladies — that’s really not a very
large sample size. Additionally, based on how the questions were phrased,
there’s no way to account for who’s a natural redhead and who’s been assisted
by hair dye. Oops!
of those two factors, the study does not hold water, at least in regards to
this factor.
something supernatural about redheads

A redheaded woman lighting incense

our ginger brethren have not had it especially easy, according to U.S. News
& World Reports. Much of that was due to the beliefs that people in ancient
civilizations had about them, which were often rooted in a supernatural fear or
example, men with red hair were burned alive in ancient Egypt, even though it’s
thought that Cleopatra herself might have had red hair — who
knew? Additionally, Aristotle believed that redheads had bad character,
and the early Greeks believed that redheads turned into vampires. But perhaps
the most egregious example of gingers being targeted was in medieval Europe,
where approximately 45,000 redheaded women were murdered because of suspected
ties to witchcraft and magic. Yikes! 
still face various kinds of persecution and discrimination today, according to
The Guardian, which is unfortunate to say the least. What is it about redheads
that inspires such hatred?
genetically just like everyone else

Four women with long hair

determine so much about us as people, from the color of our eyes to the size of
our noses to how short or tall we end up. That explains why we’re all so
diverse in a number of ways, thanks to these the tiny codes and directives that
determine who we become. But blonde, brunette, jet black, or ginger, we’re all
pretty much alike on the inside, right?
enough, no — gingers are actually the result of a genetic mutation on the
MC1R gene, according to the National Institutes of Health. That explains
why being a redhead is so hard to fake, given that it’s written into our DNA on
the genetic level. Also, you can now enjoy being able to call your redheaded
friends mutants — because they are!
of the mutation, redheads have less of the dark pigment (eumelanin) and more of
the red pigment (pheomelanin) that dictate the shades and hues of our hair and
skin. The result is fairer skin, redder hair, and paler eyes than the average
person, and, of course, more of those trademark ginger freckles.

can’t take pain like other people

A redheaded woman with a headache
that lady gingers are often treated like they have a hot temperament, it makes
sense that people may jump to call them shrill if they protest while getting a
shot or while undergoing a dental procedure. No one enjoys getting a root
canal, after all, and receiving an injection isn’t exactly a fun thing to do —
but surely everyone feels the same amount of pain when undergoing the same kind
of procedure. It’s only logical.
enough, however, that mutation on the MC1R gene that bestows female redheads
with their signature locks also brings with it a greater sensitivity to certain
kinds of pain. In one study by the National Institutes of Health, it was
revealed that they are more sensitive to thermal pain and more resistant to
local anesthetics than the rest of us. Additionally, according to a study in
Anesthesiology, they need more anesthesia on the operating table than
non-ginger folks. So they’re not making a scene or exaggerating their
pain — it’s real, y’all.
a fascinating twist, however, redheaded women respond better to painkillers
than anyone, including men, according to Science Daily. That’s just wild!
sting redheads more often

A bee on a yellow flower

enough, one of the strangest rumors circulating around on the Internet is that
redheads are stung by bees and stinging insects more often than their
non-ginger counterparts. So claims a listicle on BuzzFeed, which asserts that anecdotal
evidence suggests that that this is indeed a thing redheads will attest to.
one problem with that theory, though, according to science. For one, there are
no legitimate studies that have ever proven that bees are itching to sting
Jessica Chastain more than Jennifer Lawrence. Additionally, according to KREM,
while bees have a broader range of color vision than humans, they can’t really
see the color red. That kind of takes the oomph out of that theory, huh?
be fair, bees are more sensitive to smells than they are to any colors, so
maybe there’s something at work there. But until it’s proven, it looks like
we’re all at the same risk of getting stung. Ouch!

fiery brethren smell just like us

A redheaded woman smelling perfume

of smells, there’s no rational reason to suspect that redheads would smell any
different than other people. But then again, gingers are apparently a little
bit more magical than the rest of us, and that applies to how they smell, too.
According to The Big Redhead Book, the first documentation of this unique
phenomenon was in 1866 in the book Le parfum de la femme by Dr. Augustin
Galopin. In it, he theorized that ladies have an aroma that’s tied to the color
of their mane, and, for redheads, that smell was ambergris. Ooh la la!
course, that wasn’t exactly hard science, and it wasn’t published in a
contemporary, peer-reviewed journal. But there is some science at play here, as
gingers have a skin mantle that’s more acidic than non-gingers. So when they
apply perfume or a scented oil to their skin, it smells differently than
others. Additionally, gingers may have to re-apply scented products more often,
as they don’t last quite as long.
a redhead is common

A large gathering of redheads

you watch a lot of television and don’t skip past the commercials, you’ve
probably noticed that redheads are in an awful lot of them. That’s not your
imagination — Janet Harris, the president of Upstream Analysis, a social
and traditional media analysis firm, summarized study results in an article
in HuffPost. According to their findings, redheads are in 30 percent
of commercials during prime time, and ginger ladies are twice as likely to
appear in them as men. Wendy’s, anyone?
just because they’re frequent flyers in advertising doesn’t mean gingers are
all that common. In fact, according to Red: A History of the Redhead they
comprise approximately two percent of the entire world’s population, which is
really not a lot! In Europe, the stats are a little bit higher, where they
account for two to six percent of the population. 
what’s the reason gingers are so rare? It comes down to genetics, as being a
redhead is a recessive trait — just like having blue eyes is. So if you
have red hair and blue eyes, you’re practically a unicorn!

don’t need vitamin D

A redheaded woman outside

that the majority of the ginger population lives in European countries that
tend to be cloudier than they are sunny, you might also be tempted to think
that they don’t need as much vitamin D as other people. But according to The
Big Redhead Book, it’s not as simple as it seems, of course. More ginger
wizardry is afoot!
deal is that redheads need just as much vitamin D as regular folks do. But
since they tend to live in those less-than-sunny places, they’ve evolved to
create vitamin D in their bodies in a more efficient manner than everyone else.
So when they do get some sunlight, they can produce more vitamin D in a shorter
amount of time.
a good thing in another way, too, as our pale-skinned ginger friends are more
sensitive to the sun than people with darker skin. Gingers have a fraught
relationship with the day star, clearly.
are wimps when it comes to the cold

A redheaded woman with a blanket

you have a close relationship with a ginger gal, chances are you’ve noticed that
she always carries an extra jacket and scarf with her, or that she curls up
with a blanket even when no one else is using one. Chances are you’ve also
gently teased her about always being cold and not being able to handle even the
slightest cool-down.
that doesn’t mean the redheaded lady in your life is just being a wimp about
the weather, or that it’s all in her head — and science proves it.
According to a study in the journal Anesthesiology, redheaded women are more
sensitive to thermal pain, which means they’re super susceptible to the
extremes of both cold and hot temperatures. Apparently that MC1R mutation has
an impact on the way the gene that detects temperatures functions, causing it
to work harder than it needs to. Ah, the mysteries of genetics!
have no souls

A group of redheaded women

the silliest myth about gingers — more so than them being really feisty or
super lusty — is the notion that they have no souls. While this bonkers idea
may have roots in the historical and cultural persecutions of redheads, it
became popular after an episode of South Park. In it, the character of Eric
Cartman gives a class presentation, explaining that gingers are soulless and
afflicted with a condition called “gingervitis.” 
course, it was just a parody, and it was a satirical way to show how ridiculous
discrimination is when it’s based on what people look like, or leveled at a
group of people for no good reason. And even if there was a scientific way to
prove that souls exist, gingers are no more and no less evil than anyone else
as a collective. Of course, redheaded individuals can be bad people, but that
doesn’t have anything to do with their phenotype. Myth busted!

Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.