Hair color is based on how much melanin, or pigmentation, is in the hair. Two types of melanin create hair color: 1) eumelanin and 2) phaeomelanin. The more eumelanin a person has, the darker their hair will be. Phaeomelanin works in a similar way, except instead of causing hair to be blacker, it causes hair to be more red. Low levels of both eumelanin and phaeomelanin characterize blonde hair.
Blonde hair can range from practically white (platinum blonde) to a dark golden blonde. Strawberry blonde, the mixture of blonde and red hair, is the rarest type of blonde hair.
Because blond hair tends to turn darker with age, natural blonds make ups just 2% of the population.
Just 1 in 20 white American adults is naturally blonde, and roughly the same ratio applies to white northern Europeans. Virtually 1 in 3 white adult females dye their hair a shade of blonde.
Interesting Blonde Hair Fact:
The gene that causes blonde hair in Melanesians is different than the gene that causes blonde hair in Caucasians (Graham Crumb, Port Vila, Vanuatu).
The Melanesians of New Guinea are the only dark-skinned group of humans known to have a high blonde hair rate.
Recent excavations in China’s Taklamakan desert have found mummies from as far back as 1800 B.C. with strikingly blonde hair.
Jean Harlow was Hollywood’s first blonde goddess. She dyed her hair with a mixture of peroxide, household bleach, soap flakes, and ammonia until it fell out and she was forced to wear a wig.
Princess Diana spent almost 4,000£ ($6,284.80) a year to have her hair bleached.
In Greece, blonde hair was associated with prostitution. Messalina, a Roman empress, would hide her black hair with a blonde wig when she visited the brothel every night.
Greek dramatist Menander (342-291 B.C.) once wrote, “No chaste woman ought to make her hair yellow.”
Nearly 2,000 years before Homer, during the time of the Proto-Indo-Europeans, blonde hair was connected to the worship of the sun and fire and to the adoration of a yellow dawn goddess. The Persians plaited their beards with golden threads, and the Assyrians powdered their hair with extravagant clouds of gold dust.
Marilyn Monroe, who was not a natural blonde, refused to allow other blonde actresses on the film set with her. Her natural hair color was brown.
I like to feel blonde all over.- Marilyn Monroe
German blondes were taken captive during the Roman era and had their hair cut off to be made into wigs for fashionable ladies. Successful wars were a source of a large influx of blonde hair.
Northern Europe has the most blondes. However, even most natural blonde babies lose their blonde hair once puberty sets in. Additionally, women find that after their first pregnancy, their hair and skin darken permanently.
The word “blonde” is derived from several possible sources. Some scholars think it derived from the Medieval Latin blundus meaning “yellow,” the Old Frankish blund, meaning “grey haired” or “to mix,” or from the Old English beblonden meaning “dyed.”
Influenced by Richard Wagner, Elizabeth Nietzsche, the sister of the famous philosopher, selected an entire community of people based on their blonde hair and blue eyes and shipped them off to an isolated village in Paraguay in order to plant the seed of a new race of supermen. The village still exists.
Ancient women often turned to disgusting methods to achieve blonde tresses
In Ancient Rome, women tried to dye their hair blonde with pigeon dung. In Renaissance Venice, they used horse urine.
Hydrogen peroxide was discovered in 1818, but there was little application for it until 1867 when it was found that it could bleach hair. It quickly became popular throughout Europe and America, superseding everything else that had been used as bleach before then.
During the Renaissance, society women spent hours on the balconies of their mansions bathing and rinsing their hair with a tincture known as aqua bionda or aqua di gioventu. They would wear a crownless straw hat with a wide brim called a solana. The hat shaded their faces and skin from the sun, while their hair was combed out over the hat and exposed to the sun. There are records of women developing heatstroke, headaches, nosebleeds, and even blindness.
Blonde hair is seen throughout fairy tales, including Rapunzel, Rumpelstiltskin, Cinderella, and Goldilocks. In fairytales, blonde hair often suggests strength, untarnished beauty, indestructibility, youth, and high value. In contrast, vice is association with hairy, dark, and ugly.
During the Middle Ages, blonde women were held with suspicion, and by the mid-14th century, depictions of Eve were consistently giving her free-flowing locks of golden blonde hair that marked her as an evil temptress. An image in 1356 by Bartolo di Fredi in San Gimignano depicts the creation of Eve as a pale and sensuous blonde emerging from the ribcage of a sleeping Adam.
Eve, the blonde temptress
Meteors were once called “comets” after the Latin word comes, meaning hair, and were named for their flowing golden tail of hair as they flashed through the sky.
Dr. Tony Fallone noted in 1997 that hair color is the root of a person’s personality. Blondes are typically more outgoing and lively and are perceived as more feminine than women with other hair colors. According to Fallone, being blonde is not a hair color, but a state of mind.
1Bartolo di Fredi in San Gimignano depicts the creation of Eve
Alfred Hitchcock, the “master of suspense,” was obsessed with blondes and cast only blondes in his movies. His favorite blondes included Eve Marie Saint (North by Northwest), Joan Fontaine
(Suspicion), Carol Lombard (Mr. and Mrs. Smith), Janet Leigh (Psycho), Grace Kelly (Dial M for Murder, Rear Window, and To Catch a Thief), and Tippi Hedren (The Birds and Marni). Scholars have noted that Hitchcock’s blondes have become one of the most potent icons of our era.
Blonde-haired heads have more strands of hair than red- or dark-haired heads. Blondes have approximately 140,000 hairs compared with 108,000 for their darker counterparts.
Little Known Blonde Hair Fact
Darker hair naturally provides more of a protective barrier, which means brunettes need less hair than blondes to protect their scalp
Barbie, a blonde, is the most popular doll in the world.
The genetic mutation that created blonde hair in Europe happened about 11,000 years ago, approximately during the last ice age.
While blonde hair is a recessive gene, it is not a disappearing gene. The World Health Organization and others erroneously published a report that claimed people with blonde hair would become extinct by 2202.
Scientists believe that blonde hair evolved in sun-deficient climates so that the body could synthesize vitamin D more efficiently.
Other scholars, such as anthropologist Peter Forst, claimed blonde hair evolved very quickly as a means of sexual selection. The blond hair and blue eyes of some northern European women made them more alluring to men.
Most researchers believe that blonde hair evolved more than once in different parts of the world. In fact, blonde hair is not found just in Northern Europe but also in Asia, eastern Afghanistan, northwestern Pakistan, Turkey, southwestern and northern Iran, Israel, western Syria, northern Iraq, Palestinian territories, Jordan, Lebanon, the Berbers in North Africa, and aboriginal Australia.
Interesting Blonde Beard Fact:
Blonde beards grow faster than darker beards.
Blond beards grow faster than dark beards.
The blonde stereotype has been divided into three categories: 1) the ice-cold blonde (Grace Kelley), 2) the blonde bombshell (Brigitte Bardot), and 3) the dumb blonde (Marilyn Monroe).
The term “blonde” came from French and kept its masculine and feminine forms; consequently, as a noun, “blond” is a fair-haired male, while “blonde” is a fair-haired female. However, when the word is used as an adjective, “blond” can be used for both males and females; however, “blonde” can also be used to describe a woman or girl with fair hair.
The “Dumb Blonde” joke may be rooted in the 1775 satirical play “Les curiosites de la Foire,” in which a blonde French courtesan named Rosalie Duthe is portrayed as being less than intelligent. Research indicates that blondes are viewed as less intelligent than women with darker hair. However, modern science shows that there is no evidence of intellectual differences based on hair color.
Dolly Parton’s 1967 song “Dumb Blonde” challenged the dumb blonde stereotype with its lyrics. She claimed that she is not offended by all the dumb blonde jokes because she is not dumb. And she is also not a true blonde.
Blonde women are more susceptible to age-related macular degeneration (AMD), an eye condition that can cause blindness.
Blondes produce less melanin, which leaves their skin more susceptible to skin cancer.
More Interesting Blonde Hair Fact:
Research shows that guys prefer brunettes over blondes as long-term mates
According to several surveys, men do not prefer blondes—at least not as serious mates. Men prefer brunettes as long-term partners because they view them as more reliable and steady.
A Lithuanian firm called Olialia (ooh-la-la) announced in 2010 that it was going to build a resort in the Maldives that would employ only blonde women. It will also have a special airline staffed by blondes only that would take customers to the island. The resort was scheduled to open in 2015.
Margaret Thatcher’s hair became more blond as she became more powerful.
This article was first published in 2016 in FactRetreiver and is reprinted with kind permission of the author, Karin Lehnardt. Karin graduated with a BA and MA in English and Rhetoric from Brigham Young University and later worked towards a PhD at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. She has been a university writing tutor and writing instructor for many years and loves researching, reading, writing, and discussing ideas.