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This Is Exactly How Many People Have Red Hair

And no, they're not going extinct.

There's a reason red hair tends to be eye-catching: it's the single rarest human hair color in the world. Whether you're sporting a strawberry-tinged mane or have burgundy locks, if you've got ginger genes, you're practically a unicorn. So, how many people have red hair, anyway?

If you're a natural redhead, that means you're in good, if limited company. It's true that red hair exists across numerous ethnic groups and on every continent. However, just 1-2 percent of the total global population has natural red hair, with the bulk of the world's redheads sharing a specific genetic quirk. (That means, at most, there are 152,656,386 redheads walking the planet.) Most redheads have a recessive mutation of the MC1R gene, which informs your body's production of pigment, producing ginger locks. In fact, virtually every redhead needs two copies of this gene—one from each parent—for red hair to result.

So, where on earth can a redhead feel like they're surrounded by their own kind? Try Ireland. Making up 10 percent of the population, Ireland has more redheads than anywhere else on the globe. Scotland is a close second, with a 6 percent redheaded population.

And, despite what you may have heard, it doesn't look like redheads will be extinct anytime soon. However, some scientists believe that we could see the number of total redheads decline slightly in the not-so-distant future. Dr. Alastair Moffat told The Independent that a lack of cloud cover in Scotland due to climate change could eventually alter the population's genes to the point that red hair becomes even more rare.

The good news? Those redheads who do stick around have plenty of cool genetic tricks up their sleeves. While red hair may increase a person's risk of skin cancer, there are less-scary side effects, too. Redheads are more acutely sensitive to changes in temperature, they generally need more anesthesia during surgery, their hair turns white instead of gray, and, perhaps coolest of all, can produce their own vitamin D—take that, sunlight! And luckily, regardless of your hair color, you can always look like a million bucks by adopting or ditching one of The Best and Worst Haircuts for Men in Their 40s!

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Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more