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What is the most common hair color in the world?

What is the most common hair color in the world?

Hair color is one of the most visible and defining characteristics of human appearance. The natural hair color of humans shows high variation from light blonde to black. But what is the most common hair color globally? Let’s take a deeper look into the prevalence of different hair colors around the world.

The Genetics Behind Hair Color

The natural hair color is determined by the amount and type of melanin pigment produced by melanocytes in the hair follicles. There are two types of melanin that determine hair color:

  • Eumelanin – produces brown and black hair
  • Pheomelanin – produces red and blonde hair

The ratio and intensity of eumelanin and pheomelanin production leads to different natural hair colors ranging from black, brown, blonde, red, and grey or white. Genes play a major role in dictating the type and amount of melanin produced. The main genes involved are:

  • MC1R – determines the type of melanin produced
  • OCA2, TYRP1, SLC45A2, SLC24A5, KITLG – control the amount and intensity of melanin

The geographical distribution of certain genetic variations in these genes largely explains the global distribution pattern of hair colors. For example, northern and eastern Europeans have a higher prevalence of genetic variations leading to lower eumelanin production and higher pheomelanin production. This results in lighter hair color on average among these populations.

Global Distribution of Hair Colors

When examining global data on hair color frequency, brown hair is clearly the most predominant hair color. A large analysis of hair color across multiple world regions reported the following distribution:

Hair Color Global Frequency
Black 15%
Dark brown 30%
Light brown 30%
Blonde 15%
Red 1%

When combining the frequencies, brown hair (including dark brown and light brown) represents 60% of the global population’s hair color. In contrast, blondes only comprise 15% of hair colors worldwide. However, there are significant regional variations in hair color distribution:

  • Europe – Highest percentage of blondes (up to 70% in some northern regions) and redheads (up to 13% locally). Brown hair still predominates but is less frequent than global average.
  • Asia – Over 90% brown/black hair. Blondes and redheads are exceptionally rare.
  • Africa – Almost exclusively brown/black hair throughout the continent.
  • Americas – Wide range from blonde/red hair among northern European ancestry populations to near universal black/brown hair among indigenous Americans and those of African descent.

Hair Color Changes with Age

Hair color is not always static throughout life. Melanin production changes over time leading to greying and white hair in older age. When examining common hair colors, it is important to look at age-related trends.

At birth, black and light blonde hair are the most common colors globally. However, light hair rapidly darkens into childhood. By 5-10 years old, 90% of children have some shade of brown hair. Blonde hair persists most commonly in Europe, especially among children and teenagers. Among adults, hair color follows the global patterns described earlier with brown predominating.

By 60-80 years old, 50-80% of Europeans, Asians, and Americans have at least 50% grey hair. The onset of greying varies by ethnic background but eventually results in white/silver hair for most. However, some individuals retain their natural hair color well into old age. Genetics plays a key role in the greying process.

Cultural Attitudes Towards Hair Color

Hair color carries cultural meanings and attitudes that influence social perceptions. In many parts of the world, lighter hair has been associated with youth, beauty, and higher status:

  • Western Europe – For centuries, blonde hair was considered ideal and privileged. It remains a common beauty standard.
  • United States – Hollywood promoted blonde hair as glamorous during the 20th century. Many Americans continue to see it as attractive.
  • Asia – Light hair is exoticized as youthful and desirable. Dyeing black hair blonde remains trendy.

Meanwhile, darker shades sometimes carry negative biases despite being more common:

  • India – Colorism leads lighter brown hair to be preferred over darker tones.
  • Africa – Colonial influences drove perception of lighter skin and hair as superior.
  • Americas – Discrimination persists against darker hair among indigenous and African-rooted populations.

As societies address racial issues, acceptance for natural hair across all colors has grown. But lingering cultural attitudes remain complex.

Hair DyeingTrends

The desire to alter natural hair color is common across cultures. Currently, over 50% of women and 10% of men in Western countries dye their hair. Motivations include:

  • Covering gray hairs
  • Achieving a more preferred shade
  • Expressing identity or status

Dyeing hair lighter, especially blonde, remains most popular even in countries where it is rare naturally. But unnatural colors like blue, pink, purple have also grown trendy. Hair dye allows transcending genetics and culture to display individuality.

Country Most Popular Dye Colors
United States Blonde, brown, red
Japan Blonde, light brown
India Black, brown
Brazil Blonde, brown

Technology continues improving the ability to mimic natural hair colors. But chemical dyes also damage hair, so alternatives like wigs and extensions are also popular for temporary coloring.


In summary, brown hair, encompassing light brown, dark brown, and black shades, is globally the most common natural hair color. Blonde hair is uniquely prevalent in northern and eastern Europe. Red hair occurs at low frequencies worldwide but is native to western Eurasia. Hair color diversity evolves from the interaction of genetics, migration, and culture. While artificial dying alters the distribution today, brown hair remains predominant if observing only natural hair color unaffected by dyes.