Redheads are an interesting rarity; only 1-2% of natural redheads are in the world’s population. Because of this, there’s often mystery surrounding what happens to red hair with age, including whether it will turn gray or white.
People often joke about all redheads being related to each other or being descendants of Leprechauns or other fantastical fairy-tale creatures.
But we’re here to move beyond the fairy tales. Read this article to learn whether red hair turns gray or white with age.
Do Redheads Go Gray or White with Age?
Redheads don’t go gray; they usually go white or blonde.
Because red or ginger hair is so light anyway and requires less melanin to maintain, it’s easier to keep the color longer than darker hair types.
The pigment loss results in a gradual transition to white, so most redheads tend to skip on hair going gray and, instead, find their red hair becoming blonder or slowly turning white.
Red Hair Genetics
Genetics has an impact on what hair type you’ll end up with. Whether your hair is curly, kinky, straight, red, blonde, or black, it all boils down to genetics and the distinct combinations that result in those unique traits.
Redheads require a specific combination that is quite rare; you’ll often hear it’s rare for someone with red hair to have blue eyes, and that’s because of the genetic codes.
If your parents have red hair, it’s likely that you, too, will have red hair. However, sometimes you never really know.
Red hair is created by the combination of low amounts of eumelanin and higher amounts of pheomelanin, which are pigment types in your melanin.
Melanin is a pigment that defines our skin, eye, and hair colors; the concentration of melanin determines whether our skin, eyes, and hair are darker or lighter. The heavier the concentration of melanin, the darker our skin, hair, and eye color.
Eumelanin in high amounts creates dark or black hair. The less eumelanin you have, the lighter your hair will be. If you pair this with a higher amount of pheomelanin, a red/yellowish pigment, then, you’ll have that signature redhead hair.
Redheads also tend to have more freckles than others because of the lower melanin content.
How Does Red Hair Color Change with Age?
As we age, we notice differences in our hair. It thins out, falls out, and the color gradually fades or starts to turn gray. Some people find gray hairs earlier than others.
All hair colors may experience either graying hair or whitening hair as they get older. Due to their vibrant hair color, redheads might worry about what will happen to those tresses as they age.
Redheads may experience achromotrichia. This phenomenon happens with pigment loss or the absence of pigment in the hair.
Hair pigments create the color, and when they disappear, the hair color gradually fades into either gray or white, depending on the original pigment color.
This fading process often leads to a spectrum of changes. Red hair may first turn to a lighter, washed-out copper or rosy blonde before it begins to go white.
Unlike other hair colors where the gray is more immediately noticeable, the transition in redheads can be more subtle and gradual.
Does Red Hair Turn Gray Faster?
This is actually a misconception. Contrary to popular belief, red hair does not turn gray faster.
In reality, redheads usually experience graying later than other hair colors, and in many cases, their hair might not be visibly gray at all.
This is because the rate of graying is influenced by melanin production, and redheads typically have less melanin in their hair.
People with darker hair, who have more melanin, tend to notice graying earlier. Therefore, red hair often maintains its natural color longer compared to darker hair shades.
Can You Delay Hair Turning White as A Redhead?
Yes. If you find your red hair turning white or losing color prematurely, you can delay it by adjusting your diet and using different products to help hold onto that hair color.
While people may make jokes about stress causing their gray hair, it’s true! Stress can cause your hair to gray, along with other bothersome and health-threatening symptoms.
If you find your body exhibiting other characteristics that stem from stress (weight loss or gain, trouble sleeping, anxiety), you may consider meditating, exercising, or seeing a therapist.
If you can determine that stress is the cause of your whitening hair, doing appropriate meditative exercises and overall managing your stress in healthy, productive ways can reverse the graying.
These are worthwhile tips, regardless of your hair color. Redhead or not, reducing stress and maintaining a regular exercise regimen provides more benefits for your body than reversing your graying or white hair.
Redheads usually don’t go gray but turn white or blonde with age, due to their lower melanin content.
Their hair color changes more subtly, often becoming lighter before turning white, contrasting with darker hair types that gray more noticeably.
Genetics plays a significant role in this process. The unique combination of low eumelanin and high pheomelanin contributes to the red hair color and its aging pattern.
Contrary to popular belief, red hair does not turn gray faster than other hair colors; in fact, it often retains its natural color longer.