Beautiful Human Unicorns: Skincare Challenges for Redheads



Google anything about redheads and skin, or skincare, and you'll get some interesting results back:

"8 Ways Having Red Hair Affects a Person's Health, From Pain to Sex," "Rock Your Ginger Gene and Know Your Skin Cancer Risks," "Fiery Facts About Redheads," and "5 Health Risks of Being a Redhead." Goodness!


It's true though, redheads are definitely one of a kind! If you're a redhead, you have unique treatment needs. These issues are not anecdotal, they're fact! Here are three of the most common issues that come in to play for redheads with skincare/anti-aging treatments:

  • Thinner skin

  • More reactive/sensitive skin

  • Pain control


Here's the science of the WHY:


Redhead get their hair color and their very fair skin come from a gene mutation in the melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R). This same gene is also responsible for thinner skin and pain control issues in redheads.


Thinner skin can be an issue in skincare treatments as it means the blood vessels and nerves are closer to the surface, causing greater reactivity from environmental stressors (heat, cold, sun, irritants, etc). This is also why redheads bruise more easily. Injectables and skin care treatments can definitely be qualified as "irritants" and redness and inflammation are common after office procedures. There are some things that can be done ahead of time, and after, to help with minimizing skin reactivity.


If you are having injections:

  • Talk to your injector beforehand about the best anesthetic options: topical vs. injectable, or a combo of both. Doctors have found that redheads require about 20% more subcutaneous lidocaine than non-redheads.

  • Be sure to stay away from all blood thinners in the weeks leading up to your appointment (like NSAIDs, fish oil and alcohol - a full list is on the pre- and post- care instructions you will receive). We advise everyone to do this, but since redheads are more prone to bruising, follow these rules strictly!

  • Take Sinecch, starting the day of your appointment, to help reduce bruising and swelling. This is an oral form of Arnica and we have it available in office, or you can get it at People's Pharmacy.

  • Use topical Arnica gel or cream after any injections to help with bruising

  • Period icing after treatment can help as well

If you are having any laser or light-based procedures, adhere strictly to the pre-and post-instructions and just know that your skin may overreact more than blondies and brunettes. You may have more redness, more heat sensation and potentially more swelling than others.


Some general skincare advice for redheads:


Because redheads are more prone to developing skin cancer, ALWAYS use a physical sunscreen like Elta MD (we have a variety of tinted and non-tinted), or Skin Better’s Tone Smart SPF compact or pump, or the sheer version of the compact (no color). And be sure to reapply.


Redheads can tend to have drier, more sensitive skin so consider:

An equalizing toner (Skin Ceuticals). Toner helps restore the right ph balance to the skin.

A gentle face wash (Elta MD Foaming Wash or Skin Ceuticals Replenishing Cleaner)

A moisturizer for nighttime, or even for morning AND night: Skin Ceuticals Triple Lipid and Skin Better’s Trio