red hair with purple highlights

Red hair is associated with fair skin color because low concentrations of eumelanin throughout the body of those with red hair caused by a MC1R mutation can cause both. The lower melanin concentration in skin confers the advantage that a sufficient concentration of important Vitamin D can be produced under low light conditions. However, when UV-radiation is strong (as in regions close to the equator) the lower concentration of melanin leads to several medical disadvantages, such as a higher risk of skin cancer. The MC1R variant gene that gives people red hair generally results in skin that is difficult or impossible to tan. Because of the natural tanning reaction to the sun’s ultraviolet light and high amounts of pheomelanin in the skin, freckles are a common but not universal feature of red-haired people.

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