Although hair colour easily defines redheads, their skin care regimes are a little harder to nail. The reason? Many assume that redheaded skin is all the same, when in reality, it’s as varied as the person, says Carolyn Kim, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in the U.S.
It’s estimated that there are up to 140 million redheads living worldwide today, or about one to two percent of the population. However, how many of them are properly caring for their skin? Here are five myths that are the ire of redheads’ skin:
Myth: Redheads don’t need as much sunscreen, if they have a lot of freckles to protect them.
Fair-skinned persons (typically of those with red hair) lack the melanin needed to prevent UV-induced damage to their skin’s DNA. Studies have shown that the alleles in the genetic make-up of redheads increase freckling ability and decrease the ability to achieve a glowing tan.
Researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and Boston University School of Medicine believe that the mutation of the skin pigment gene MC1R that is responsible for red hair might also foster a cancer-causing pathway when combined with UV exposure.
People with fair skin are more susceptible to skin cancers, such as melanoma, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, among other things. It’s very important that redheads schedule a skin cancer check once a year, and wear sun protection daily.
Myth: Oily skin is rare among redheads.
It’s quite common, and because breakouts tend to leave many redheads with telltale rose pigmentation around problem areas, it’s important to control breakouts with a regular skin care routine.
Kim recommends an oil-free acne cleanser to keep blackheads at bay and breakouts from happening. Moisturise with a non-greasy, non-comedogenic formula of moisturiser that can be worn under make-up that contains SPF.
Myth: Redheads just have to deal with uneven colour in their skin.
Physician-prescribed glycolic peels and prescription retinoid creams may be an option to help even out skin tone. This should be approached very carefully and under the watchful eye of a skincare expert. Bad advice and products can leave redheaded skin damaged and painful.
Myth: Redheads’ skin ages faster because it’s so dry.
A dry, leather-like appearance and increased wrinkles are not due to hair colour. Those with dry skin have a multitude of options available to them using today’s dermatology. Kim recommends day and night moisturisers, regular glycolic peels and masks, and antioxidant serums, to maintain a youthful appearance for someone with very dry skin. Also, new cosmetic techniques using Botox and fillers can easily help smooth fine lines and wrinkles away, giving a more youthful appearance.
Myth: Redheads need more sun because they are so pale, and that could lead to osteoporosis.
In regards to vitamin D, it’s the non-redheads who should be jealous. Thought to be an evolutionary advantage, the ‘ginger gene’ soaks up more vitamin D, essential for bone health, and might also boost immunity.
Scientists think that it might have protected redheads against rickets, a disorder that softens and weakens bones through vitamin D deficiency. Because of this and an increased risk for skin cancers, redheads should play it sun-smart and wear plenty of sunscreen.