Can Black People Have Red Hair? – What Experts Say

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What do you imagine the moment someone utters the word ‘redhead’? I can bet 100 bucks that most of you picture a white woman with hazel green eyes. Sprinkle some freckles too. 

This is the definition of red-haired women/men the world generally picks up. I am sorry to burst your belief bubble; it is entirely wrong! Hints of red hair within different races can be seen walking in the busy streets. 

Sometimes it is hard to decipher between the fake and the original. I mean, the hair dyes of this innovative age have increasingly developed the quality that even I have to glance twice to notice the difference. 

However, red hair in black people exists. This is what we will discuss now, the how and the whys. Grab your coffee and take a seat! 

Basic Knowledge About Ginger Locks 

It is better to learn a few facts regarding the red hair conundrum before dozing off out of boredom. Trust me – I will make it interesting! 


Long ago, about 20 to 50,000 years back, people lived in harmony in the African regions. Of course, killing, fighting for leadership, and whatnot were pretty much normal. 

Hence, harmony is the word I should use to describe the straightforwardness of our ancestors. 

One day some families probably thought it was enough sticking to one place for all these years. So, they decided to set off to see the world, maybe even luck themselves with a colder climate. 

You see, the sun loved Africa the most, giving it all the loving warmth and heat. It also made the people more resilient to diseases. However, those families who had had it enough wanted to explore. 

The migration took place. I suppose people scattered across the various lands with different sunlight exposures. Some eventually reached the colder regions. 

The group of people realized what could be better than living in this climate? The sun was often sparsed, plus the mountainous greenery provided fresh air and food. 

Nothing can go wrong, right?  


The regions they began to settle in are recognized as northern and central Europe in modern days. It was one of those peaceful eras. 

At one point, these people had a change in their hair and skin pigmentation. Unfortunately, they had no idea what was happening. 

All they understood was that climate change had brought forth alteration in their body as well. The northern and central European lands tend to have lesser sunrays. 

This made the absorption of vitamin D a difficult task. Of course, they still had no clue about all that is happening! 

However, the lighter the skin became, along with red-pigmented hair, the more sensitive settlers got toward the sun exposure. They realized that thermal pain is greater in their system than in the rest.  

Furthermore, many of these ancestors may have even died of skin cancer or sunburns. We will never know. 

After thousands of years later, our scientists studied these descendant genes to find out what truly transpired. There are two melanin types in our skin. When one of them, Pheomelanin, accounts to be more in the mutated MC1R gene, the hair grows red. 

Red Hair In Black People

Shall we get back to the origin of the topic? I never really noticed the distinction until recently. It is time we pay attention to the uniqueness that surrounds us every day. 


At first, I assumed the red hair in an African American was nothing but high-grade hair dye. 

Then I came across the same person twice. This time I had the opportunity to notice closer. I apologize if it sounds creepy. The person, however, was more than happy to share information regarding the hair trait.

Of course, most black people are not aware of this unique phenomenon. Similarly, the person I met could not give me many details except that I saw the real ginger color. 

With intrigued mind, I began to study further into this. I mean, we see red-haired black people at least once in our lifetime, and why had we never questioned how it happened? 

After days of research, the word Rufous Albinism kept playing in my head. Here is the simplest way to explain. 

Rufous Albinism 

There are several kinds of albinism, among which Rufous Albinism is one of the rarest. Researchers are still unsure of its in-depth story. 

The Rufous or Red Albinism are subjected to a handful of the black population. Therefore, its rarity is still indistinct. Many have studied the populace density in the black community. 

It shows that at least one among a few thousand children is born with this albinism. Most dark-skinned individuals with this hereditary disorder possess ocular characteristics. 

For example, the black woman with red hair will often have a lighter skin tone. Her eyes might even show multicolored irises. The hair color may range from light to brownish red in most cases. 

What Causes Rufous Albinism 

Before we get to the point, this OCA3 type albinism is not something to be worried about. You can consider it as some mutation that took place. It is out of our hands. 

The mutation occurs in the TYR1 gene. Although it alleviates the melanin production, it ends up adding more red pigment melanin (Pheomelanin). 

This is the kind of mutation that is hardly heard of in African descent. A very small number of African people will have red/coppery hair. 

The terrible outcome of such rare congenital possession led many in Africa to believe in witchcraft, killing many red-haired newborns tragically.

Are Red Haired Caucasians Albino Too? 

As surprising as it sounds, no, the Caucasians are not albinos if they have natural red hair. Their receptive genes are slightly different from the dark-skinned people in Africa. 

Even when the red-haired white people have a pale face with bright multicolored irises, the chances of albinism are low. 

It does not mean the white people do not suffer from this disorder. However, this congenital disability has partial to no pigment present in the skin, eyes, and hair. The absence of the pigment makes the hairs white. 

Even a few African individuals suffer from such a type of albinism. 

Ancestry Genes

I hope it has been an eye-opening discovery for you so far. However, the chain of events of the ancestral traits is not yet over.  

The History Behind Mixed Inheritance

Back to the 20 to 50,000-year-old history, what happened to the rest of the people who stayed behind in Africa? Well, they lived on as usual. 

Only, occasionally, there were cases of the melanin mutation surviving in the tribes. Once again, this group of people also had no idea how the hair was naturally reddish. 

That is not the issue at all. What is more significant is that these ancestors were the key reasons the newer generation received the receptive gene.  

It turns out to be quite variant from the red-haired genes carried by the Caucasians. 

Now let us fast forward to the dark days when the African Americans lived under the servitude of the white masters. 

During these times, there had been many heinous acts toward the black community. One of them included keeping the black female concubines. These women had children of mixed races. 

As a result, the European receptive gene somewhat coincided with the probable similar gene hidden in these females.      

In short, there are several ways the historical events have brought forward the mutated gene for the future.

Current Genetic Possibility 

Suppose for a minute that you have a mixed ancestry that included a natural ginger-haired great-great-grandfather or mother. However, the descendants after them had regular dark skin and hair. 

That is, of course, until you came along. Everyone wowed your unique appearance because it is not every day that a child in a family has red hair. And if the family is of African American race, it is harder to believe. 

Remember all that history about how the predecessors passed their children the TYR1 gene mutation? It might not happen to your grandparents or parents, but it can be visible to a newborn after a long gap in the family tree. 

Nobody thinks for a second about having a child with fiery ginger locks when both parents are of the black race. It is time to break out of this nonsense. 

If both your parents are the carriers of the receptive gene, then no one can stop you from having this beautiful trait! 


We live in a world where mixed genes are astoundingly incredible. Even a mere thousand years ago, you could have identified a person by just looking at the features. 

However, it is now a difficult task to discern. On the other hand, black people that are born with naturally red hair are substantially unique. If you are one of them and feel like the oddball, trust me, you are one in a million! 

Be confident and ruff up that red hair to its natural beauty. You deserve it. 

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