I personally think red hair makes heads turn. Check out these natural red-heads: Julianne Moore, Lindsay Lohan, Sarah Ferguson, Marcia Cross and of course, Prince Harry (and great grannie Queen Elizabeth I).
Auburn, ginger, bright orange, carrot-top: they are all the same red hair, and most would be sharing the same gene.
Some variants of the melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R) gene are strongly associated with red hair. The gene codes for a receptor that is expressed on pigment cells in the skin (melanocytes). This receptor responds to a hormone that stimutats the production of the dark pigment eumelanin. So, if you have a variant of the MC1R gene that turns off the receptor, the pigment eumelanin will not be made and you will have red hair and fair skin.
What do you get if you have red hair? Aside from stunning looks –
- fair skin
- poor ability to tan (major risk for skin cancer !! )
- more freckles
- probably Celtic (Irish/ Scottish) ancestors
- (updated) sensitivity to pain
So now, a company called MyRedHairGene.com (Alpha Biolaboratory, Inc) has a genetic test that will show you if you carry that red hair gene, or if you will pass that gene on to your kids. One test for the red hair gene costs $119; two samples cost $214.
Read Dr. Lei’s interview to find out the science behind the test – Eye on DNA Interview: Dr. Tzung-Fu Hsieh of RedTracer DNA Test for the Red Hair Gene, MC1R