Redheaded Renaissance - Scarlett Johansson's Red Mane Confirms Trend

Red Heads, who were often maligned as “Ginger’s”, carrot -top , Bozo-head or “Daywalker’s” have in fact become the most desirable coloring and skin tone in the Western beauty diorama. How can we possibly support such a broad brush statement? Quite simply, science, sociology and an unmistakable trend on television, music and movies. When popular culture starts to adopt a trend, it becomes part of that culture. People Magazine declared it the year of the redhead in 2008, Interview, Marie Claire and others followed in 2011 and the flow of celebrities continued to follow. Red hair, in a variety of shades, is also one of the hottest colors in salons, where celebrities like Scarlett Johansson appearing on the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine and Rihanna as well as non-celebs alike are adopting the fiery finish to their manes in different shades.

History of Red Heads Filled With Accusations of Devil Worship and Witchcraft

The history regarding red heads is not particularly pleasant. For the better part of recorded history, red heads have been burned at the stake as witches. The Judeo / Christian religion has Eve sporting red hair as the original stain of sin. One of our contributors who studied theology, pointed out that "Lillith was the first red-head.  She was Adam's first wife, who was to be the future wife of Satan and mother of Succubi and vampires (according to Kabala legends)". More importantly, she was depicted as expecting to be treated as Adams equal and that reflects well on red heads the world over. In Egypt, red heads were burned alive to get rid of perceived bad luck. A large contingent of Jewish people that had claimed to be from one of the original ten lost tribes and called "Caspia" among other names, are also red heads, variously considered unique for having emigrated from the Middle East to become Frisians, Anglos and Saxons (and thus the familiar red hair of the Scots and Irish in greater numbers). Needless to say, they too have been persecuted for their supposed religious heritage as well as their coloring. I don’t think I need to go on. Having red hair was not a benefit for the majority of recorded human history. 

While blondes traditionally have been known as the color that has more “fun” supported by the massive fame of Marilyn Monroe and her adopted blonde persona, red heads seemed to evolve into the color supporting counter-culture, bordellos and Burlesque with examples such as Ona Munson as the brothel owning friend of Rhett Butler in the famous movie Gone With The Wind and Amanda Blake as the Saloon owner Miss Kitty Blake in the long running television series Gunsmoke.  Even Clara Bow, who was honored in 1994 with a US Postal Stamp was insulted as the “It” girl (meaning having sex appeal) back in the 1920’s, only being honored for her work almost a century later. From the 1940’s through to the 1970’s, there was no disputing the reign of the beach babe from California. While red heads did get a nod from time to time like in the 1940 black and white movie 'Lady With Red Hair' (the impact of red hair was lost in the film simply because it was black and white!) starring Claude Rains and Miriam Hopkins (which told the story of another famous earlier red head Leslie Carter who died in 1937). Generally, having red hair would associate the actress with titles such as exotic beauty, vamp, mistress, or even Asian beauty such as in the case of Myrna Loy because of her unusual looks.

Amanda BlakeAnn SheridanBillie BurkeGinger RogersGreer GarsonJudy Garland
Leslie CarterMaureen O'HaraMiriam HopkinsMyrna LoyRita HayworthTracy Lord

Salons were quickly and consistently inundated with requests for bleaching and coloring of hair to reflect this carefree and sexy blonde hair-color. While brunettes had to comfort themselves with the dark steamy sexuality of Jaqueline Bisset from France, red heads, well, they just didn’t figure into fun, steamy sexuality or any other persona except what appeared to be goofy misfit, geek and misshapen outcast. They were even relegated to porn-star prerequisite since red hair suggested being over-sexed, out of control and some other extreme character traits as holdovers from the past. 

Evolution of Red Heads From "Pretty Girl" to Smoldering, Intelligent Sex-pot


 The late 1960’s hippie culture transformed the taboo’s with hold-over’s from Europe like actress Karin Dor, the first German Bond Girl, Dame Maggie Smith who played a “pretty girl” in the late 1960’s, Lynn Redgrave and of course  Lucille Ball , Rita Hayworth, Susan Hayward, Jane Fonda, Bette Davis, Shirley Maclaine and Anne Margaret from the United States. Although Ms. Ball as well as Debra Messing from Will & Grace fame were best known for their slapstick and comedy, nobody could dispute their natural beauty, especially Ms. Ball throughout her later life as is true for most of the actresses who represent this unique color palate. The transition into the 1970’s retro with Tina Louise of Gilligan’s Island fame and then the disco era brought the edginess to red-heads that would evolve into today’s fascination. Spiked Mohawks from punk bands would mesh well with the previous decades burlesque fantasies and presumed devil worship, creating the foundation for making red heads the sexiest women in the world today. 

With the populations of Scotland and Ireland represented by red-heads at approximately 13%, much of the feisty, hard living, salt of the earth stereotypes were also part of the personalities of well known red-heads. If we look at the lineage of most of the well known actresses with natural red hair, most hailed from Scotland and Ireland. Comic books, popular stories and fables like Red Sonja would also add to the mythology as well as personalities like Scotty of Star Trek fame and Sean Connery initially from the Bond films, to build on the already fortified reputation of red-heads like Cynthia Nixon of Sex and The City fame (where she plays a no holds barred, opinionated single lawyer in New York City) and Agnes Moorehead, the fiery red-headed mother witch Endora of Bewitched fame. Other well known actresses of Scottish and Irish descent include Ginger Rogers who would die her hair blonde for much of her career, but was actually a natural red-head, along with Judy Garland (Frances Ethel Gumm), Julie Walters, Amy Yasbeck, Deborah Kerr and Katherine Hepburn. 

Ann MargaretCaroll BurnettJane FondaJill St. JohnJune LockhartKarin Dor
Katharine HepburnLynn RedgraveShirley MaclaineStella StevensSusan HaywardTina Louise

Although Clara Bow would be both maligned and celebrated for her red hair, make-up and looks, others like Ann Sheridan would garner the nickname the “Oomph girl” for her ability to make mens’ heads twist around and feel like they were punched in the stomach (being winded) when they saw her. While Ms. Bow was the inspiration for Betty Boop and the Boop-Boop-be-Doop of the roaring 1920’s flapper girls, so many others would help cement the reputation for red-heads through the last century for today’s fortunate few ladies that are natural red-heads. 

Well known freckle faced, fair skinned actresses of the latter part of the 20th century to today include Julianne Moore, who took her coloring a bit farther and wrote a children’s book called Freckle Face Strawberry to celebrate the uniqueness and beauty of a natural red-head. Carol Burnett, Geena Davis, Susan Sarandon and so many others make up this exclusive group, with many having the same humor and joie-de-vive of Lucille Ball. Yet, many have also taken advantage of their natural coloring and the work so many predecessors have done to establish the Scottish and Irish heritage and coloring as truly sexy along the lines of Bette Davis. While youngsters like Lindsey Lohan haven’t embraced their inner redness, others like Rene Russo, Rose McGowan, Deborah Messing, Nicole Kidman, Amy Adams and Amanda Righetti have lavished themselves in the individuality and reputation that has been built up for them. So many others where asked to go red to further their careers like the geeky Laura Prepon (from “That 70’s Show“) keeping the sex appeal smoldering to use at just the right moment!

Angie EverhartCynthia NixonDeborah MessingGates McFaddenGeena DavisLola Davidovich
Marcia CrossMary Marg HelgenbergerMelissa GilbertRenee RussoStefani PowersSusan Sarandon

Why Red Headed Men Don’t Have That Same Unique Sex Appeal


The same unique coloring that gives women such an edge when it comes to allure and sex appeal isn’t true for men. The freckles that are often evident in red heads, gives men a more youthful and geeky look along with the paler hue of the skin. Especially in the 1930’s and 40’s when the famous Armstrong Comic book advertisement showing a buff man in a Speedo kicking sand in the face of a bony youth, who transforms into that same solid image of a tan, buff man. Nowhere in those images can you find freckles and red hair. Nor were there any stand-out examples of stereotypical red haired elegant, sophisticated macho men to turn to.  While Robert Redford and James Cagney are standouts, along with David Caruso for his quiet strength and not his looks, the vast majority of male celebrities with red hair are not perceived as attractive. Another younger example would be Prince Harry, still a young adult, might get away with his charm, edge and status, although he isn't considered a looker either. Need we mention Danny Bonaduce, Jeffrey Jones, Chuck Norris, Danny Kaye (asked to die his hair blonde), Ron Howard, Rupert Grint, Conan O'Brien and a number of others that aren’t head turners or heart stoppers?

Why is it then that the light eyes and hair color so favor women in the 21st century and not men? It would seem that the edginess and difference of the coloring is too unique and recognizable for many women as has been reported by as cute, childish and not masculine. In many ways, the stigma that some had attached because of bullying or otherwise standing-out may also have affected the male red-heads confidence and attitude which are both key elements for attracting a woman. Certainly, there were a number of respondents who expressed intrigue in and had actually been intimate with red-headed men, but overall, most were not as red as Carrot-top (Scott Thompson), who doesn’t do anything for raising the attraction level of red-headed men.

Chuck NorrisDanny BonaduceDanny KayeJames CagneyJeffrey JonesPatrick Kennedy
Prince HarryRobert RedfordRon HowardRupert GrintSnowboarder Shaun WhiteZack Ward

Men with red hair may also be considered the cuddly teddy-bear type more often because of their fuller faces, lighter coloring and lack of the dark aspect to their appearance. That “Je ne sais quoi” is found on both the blonde blue eyed masculine man as well as the dark haired dark-eyed man suggesting mystery, strength, being unattainable and other stereotypes that a fiery red-head with blue or green eyes would be hard pressed to carry across. The lighting likely also plays tricks with facial structure on a freckled, light complexion. So a chiseled jaw-line, full lips and dark alluring eyes would not stand-out. So much for playing hard to get as a read headed male!

Red-headed Men In Music Fare Better In The Sex Appeal Category
I'll never forget Eddy Murphy's Comedy Skit in "Raw" from the 1980's. He made it clear through tears of laughter, just what anyone could get away with if you can sing. He lamented how singers, no matter how ugly, morbidly obese, loathsome or otherwise, could attract a woman just because they could sing. This is also true for the most part for male singers, not suggesting that they are across the board less appealing than male singers and actors that aren't blessed with red hair and related features. Although having red hair didn't help the careers of crooners like Rick Astley, other well known red heads with musical talent that fared far better in their careers include Tom Bailey of the Thompson Twins, Mick Hucknall of Simply Red, Ed Sheeran, Willie Nelson, Adam Lambert (his natural hair is red, guess he couldn't pull it off), Clay Aiken, Ron Vigue (composer), Ginger Baker of Cream, Dave Mustaine (Megadeth) and Jesse Sheehan (The Family of Actors). Most aren't hunks, but the music gives them some of that mojo that is typically not afforded to red-headed actors and performers that aren't singers or in music.

...But Don't Come Close to Sizzling Red Headed Female Singers
We had to include a number of male singers who have natural red hair, if only to give them "props". Especially when we consider the plethora of hot, sizzling and talented red-headed female singers from today as well as in the past. Perhaps it is simply the extra sex appeal that singers get and when you add it to the elements that make-up the stereotypes and nuveau trend of red headed women in media and pop culture, you get the oomph! and "it" girl feelings that existed almost 100 years ago as a precursor to the resurgence and renaissance of red headed women in our society.

While many singers have chosen to sport the red locks as a statement of independence and free spirited enthusiasm for life, those that are natural are carrying it off with a new-found confidence that is the sexiest aspect of a man or a woman. Some of the many examples from the past and present include; Beverly Sills, Bonnie Raitt, The Judds, Reba McEntire, Tori Amos, Nicola Roberts, Florence Welch (& the Machine), Geri Halliwell (Ginger Spice), Bette Midler, Kate Nash, Shirley Manson, Redhead Express (the whole family),  Elly Jackson (La Roux), Sara McLachlan, Nancy Wilson (Heart), Hayley Williams (Paramore), Karen Elson (White Stripes), Tiffany and Rosanne Cash to name a few.
Adam Lambert before he dyed his hair BlackBette MidlerElly Jackson of La RouxFlorence Wlech without her MachineKaren Elson Formerly of the White StripesMick Hucknall of Simply Red
Nicola Roberts of Girls AloudReba McEntireTiffanyTom Bailey from the Thompson TwinsTori AmosWynonna and Naomi Judd

Chasing the Red-headed Mystique


Throughout the last 50 years, celebrities have been dying their hair to play roles written for red-heads, Johnny Depp, Emma Thompson and so many others have tried on the red mane for parts that have in, some cases, left them yearning to keep the coloring. While not the purple/red that so many older women have tried on for size (French Quebecers are famous for enjoying this coloring and nobody can tell why!), celebrities like Ashlee Simpson, Drew Barrymore, Blake Lively, Katy Perry, Christina Hendricks (who has done more for redheads than any other recent star), Emma Stone and others have shown how going red is the new (and not so new) craze, reflecting the surge in coloring requests despite being far more difficult to maintain than blonde. With that stamp of approval, it is no wonder that being a true red-head is attracting so much more interest of the carnal nature, along with a far more respectful air built on the hard work and sacrifices of so many of the talented and public red-headed figures of the past.

Amy ChildsBlake LivelyBrigitte NeilsenChristina HendricksModel Coco RochaDeborah Ann Woll from Trueblood
Drew BarrymoreEva MendesKaty PerryRachel Hurd-WoodRihannaRumer Willis

This recent Christmas and holiday season further reflected a serious trend toward displaying red-heads for their ability to attract and capture on-lookers. A slew of commercials in print, television and online have used models with red hair to act as their brand ambassadors. The who’s who of advertisers includes Banana Republic,, Best Buy, Ethan Allen, Abreva (GlaxoSmithKline), Paragard, Oscar Meyer, Doba, Staples (with multiple red-headed Dave characters running around), V8 Juice, Rhapsody, Paper-Mate Ink Joy, Optimum, Activia, Vonage, Gorton’s and so many others ostensibly to capture the Holiday spirit and our attention. This just two decades after McDonald's Corporation wouldn't hire a red head for any of their advertisements. Whether by coincidence, television has also included so many characters in reality and network programming that also have red-hair, far beyond the percentages in our North American society of approximately 4-5%. The Mentalist, Unforgettable and the requisite reality shows including Holiday Cupcake Wars, Chopped, Kathy Griffin and so many more examples continue to confound the experts that not too long ago proclaimed that red hair would go the way of the Dodo bird. 

Practically and Scientifically likely That We Will Have Red Heads for Centuries to Come

This surge in interest for red heads will continue far beyond the twenty first century. With feature films, cartoons, literature and other art propelling red heads into our view and minds, it seems likely that the demand and interest in red heads, natural or not, will continue unabated. A new Disney movie called “Bravery” prominently features the young red haired heroine, with all of the stereotypical attributes that have firmly carried the allure of red haired women into this century. Building on the catalog of Disney red heads like Ariel are numerous comic book and cartoon characters such as Jessica Rabbit ("I'm not bad, I'm just drawn that way!"), Kim Possible, Wilma Flinstone and Pebbles, Archie Andrews, Daredevil (which became a movie), Poison Ivy, and Mary Jane Watson (from Spider Man) to name just  a few of hundreds. Even South Park got into cult building by coining the term Daywalkers for red heads without freckles and light skin as if that is supposed to terrify us!

As popular culture continues to reward red-heads for their centuries of suffering, geneticists have been following the misalignment of the recessive MC1R gene, that when both copies aren’t working properly, create a red-head (remember, we get one copy from each of our parents as in all genes that we have). As carriers of non-working MC1R genes continue to mix with red-heads, the population of North America and it’s related countries in Europe, will continue to have red-headed offspring until the carrier pool is tapped dry. Only then will a more constant number of red-heads be prevalent in the population, but they won’t be completely wiped out.  The expectation is somewhere around .1% of the population a few hundred years from now. Nobody knows exactly when that will happen, since the numbers are generally not firm. 

Mad Magazine's Iconic Face of Alfred E. NewmanArchie AndrewsWedged Between Betty and VeronicaDisney's Famous Mermaid ArielBlossom of the Power Puff GirlsDaphne From Scooby DooSpiderman's Mary Jane Watson
Mirada from the Animated Movie BravePeter PanBatman's Villianous Poison IvyRed SonjaRuby GloomWilma Flinstone and her Daughter Pebbles

Controversy has occurred when certain sperm banks have indicated that they no longer would be accepting sperm from red-headed donors. Initially seen as something akin to racism, the red-headed community and others, were concerned that this kind of exclusion raised the specter of genocide at worst. The Ole Schou sperm bank in Denmark, the largest one in the world according to the London Telegraph, was a test case for this issue, which ultimately focused on supply and demand. After investigation, it was made clear that demand from Ireland was overheated with a waiting list of over 600 couples, while the rest of the world was negligible, reflecting cultural norms rather than intent to restrict specific genetic traits.

Staying Out Of The Sun - Physicians Supporting Pale Complexions and Other Red Headed Science

 Just as excess weight has become taboo with our societies focus on health, so too has sun-bathing and tanning. While much of the latter 1900’s saw people flocking to the beach with their bottles of tanning oil and reflectors, that simply is not the case as doctors warned us about the likelihood of skin cancer and skin damage from the “harmful rays of the sun”; a typical refrain for doctors. Only now they are altering that threat, to suggest some sunlight is good for our skin, yet throughout this, red-heads had to limit their tanning and often burned because of their light skin color and limited pigment in their eyes and hair. So it seems that the trend to health and well-being has also turned in the red-heads favor. What was perceived as successful, elegant and wealthy not too long ago has now been turned on its head in favor of being pale, red lipped and bright eyed. The most recent vampire craze has also helped forge a sexy edge to translucent skinned red heads with “Victoria” of the Twilight series played by natural red-head Rachelle Lefevre, cementing more of the same fire, petulance and energy that so many red-heads before her were likely to exhibit, if in different roles and at different levels.

Alicia WittAmanda RighettiAmy PondBryce HowardIsla FisherJessica Chastain
Karen GillanKate MaraKirsten DunstLily ColeLindsey LohanRose McGowan

More specifically, in my work with various physicians, I recall one well known skincare specialist, Dr. Peter Pugliese, who was married to a lovely natural red head for the better part of his adult life. He often crooned about his wife Joanne's natural beauty, the perfection of her skin, lips and eyes and all of the benefits of this coloring. Dr. Pugliese did confide in me that while this coloring was the most beautiful of the human species, it was also the first to breakdown because of the delicate nature of the skin and limited pigment. The lack of melanin and natural protection (pale skin tends to be thinner and drier, with lower levels of sebum, the skins oily layer of protection) will cause red heads who aren’t very vigilant to have more photo damage to their skin, eyes and hair than even blondes. For this reason, he cherished his wife’s skin and dedicated the majority of his later career to supporting and preserving skin of all types. This was a true love story and one that reflects the power and magic of red-headed women everywhere.

Additionally, the higher level of estrogens in red-headed women give them a more curvaceous figure along with redder lips, shinier hair and brighter eyes. Dr. Pugliese referenced this tendency toward gender specific estrogen dominance in red headed women when making a case for the subtle beauty cues that go along with the coloring. So not only do women with red hair have an advantage when initially sighted by a suitor, but they also likely will have all of the natural tools needed to attract a man without even uttering a word.

Indeed, this science isn't simply speculation. It is supported beyond simply the attractiveness, confidence and body structure. It seems that psychologically, red heads tend to build their confidence over their junior years of being different and come into their in (most that is) by the time they are young adults. Essentially, taking a hit when they are young to have a stronger constitution when they are older... but with the good, comes the not so good. It appears that research has pointed out that red heads are harder to anesthetize (a report in 2002), are more sensitive to pain and scar far easier, given their translucent skin tone among other skincare sensitivities, as well as having fewer hair follicles than blondes or brunettes.

You Don't Need to Be A Celebrity To Catch The Red Headed Craze

Clearly in today’s society, we hope that intellect, speech and other non-physical attributes would factor into someone’s ability to form true love and a soul mate. However, it certainly can’t hurt to be endowed with the natural beauty, vivaciousness and power that goes along with being the twenty first centuries sexiest women alive. Couples Company interviewed over 400 red headed women and a few consistent comments were recorded time and again. It became clear that those women under 25 took some good-natured ribbing about their beauty, but didn't get mocked or bullied like those from the older generations and certainly not like red headed men. It appears that the focus on red heads and their differences has  mellowed just as the demand for these beauties has picked-up. Sam, (pictured to the right) is one such example of the power and spell-bindng nature of a red-head. We also received numerous comments from professionals who are red-heads and the trend is consistent for the generational difference in perceptions as well. We were fortunate to receive a number of pictures from these individuals who as a group, were thrilled (if not when they were younger as part of teen angst and discovering oneself, which we all go through) to have red hair and in some cases to pass it on to their children.

Along with help from the media and entertainment industry, it seems that red heads are now firmly supported as a category of people that are in demand, if not just for the coloring, but for the entire package, real or perceived. Just as with love and attraction, it is, like beauty, in the eye of the beholder. The hundreds of interviews that we had made it clear that red heads were described as spell-binding, mesmerizing, stunning and often-times had a mystique about them. Whether this is simply because the coloring and appearance is unique enough to catch the attention of onlookers or potential suitors is still up for research, however, perception in all things romantic and with sex appeal is reality after-all. 

With the substantial support of the celebrity community, talent and modelling agencies, red heads no longer have to fear for their lives. Now, they can simply revel in the knowledge that not only are they unique in their coloring, but are also given the opportunity to promote their own sex appeal and bewitching appearance without any resistance. One young woman Susan, was emphatic when interviewed, noting that she was always told how "lucky, lucky, lucky" she was to be a red head. Let's hope this long awaited renaissance doesn't get over-heated. We love our red heads and look forward to many more centuries of seeing them perform at their very best and sexiest.

About the Writer
Lorne Caplan' started his career in biotech and medical device financing, moving into spas, skincare and all things anti-aging and romance related.  This led him into his current focus on romance, passion and intimacy products and services. As a father and stepfather to five girls, his unique understanding of female physiology and mentality combined with his own personal experiences allows him to comment (with his wife's permission of course) on all things intimate, romantic and passionate.  Lorne is a speaker and presenter and has appeared on television shows such as Dr. Phil and is frequently published and quoted in multiple media outlets like Shape, and Spa 20/20.

Marla Martenson commented on 23-Jan-2012 10:28 PM5 out of 5 stars
As a redhead myself, I found this article to be very informative and entertaining. I am so fortunate to have been born in the 20th century and just called names instead of at another time in history when I would have been burned at the stake!
Lauren commented on 04-Feb-2012 01:52 PM3 out of 5 stars
Someone needed to write this!! But Prince Harry is a fox - the hands down sexier of the two young princes.

Relationship and support group