Most Common Hair Color

Published February 15, 2018
Photos with different hair colors

If you conducted a random poll to guess the most common hair color, what do you think the results would be? Look around you: depending on where you live, you might say brown, dark brown, or even blonde. Of course, the answer varies from country to region.

Common Natural Hair Colors

There are 24 shades of natural human hair color described by the Fischer-Saller Scale which is the accepted international standard. These occur due to the combination of differing amounts of two hair pigments: the 'eumelanin (brown) and phaeomelanin (red),' explains a scientific study published in Forensic Science Communications. Classifications range from very light to red.

The most common hair color varies in different parts of the world. Considered on a global scale:

  • Black and brown hair are the most common and are estimated to be found in 90 percent of people according to the U.S. National Library of Genetics. Black to dark brown are hair colors found everywhere in the world, and are practically the only colors found in Africa and Asia. On the other hand, in the U.S., only 7.5 percent of women have black hair.
  • Light colored or blonde hair are found only among two percent of the world's population. Most blondes are European or of European descent. Another area where blondes are found is in the Solomon Islands, Melanesia, where five to ten percent of the people are light haired, owing to a genetic mutation.
  • Red hair is the rarest hair color. Only one to two percent are believed to have red hair in the world, according to BBC, and the most of them are Europeans or of European descent.
    Red haired family


Evolution is one of the main reasons for the difference in hair color seen around the world. Common human ancestors who lived in Africa had dark skin and hair to protect them from the tropical sun. When they moved and spread around the world, a diversity in skin and hair resulted, as the body adapted to different climatic conditions in their new homes, explains ThoughtCo.

In colder regions, with less sunshine, lighter hair and skin color allowed people to use the available sunlight better. Red resulted from a genetic mutation. Some people in this region retained brown or black hair.


Europe is unique for the diversity of hair color among its people. This can be explained by evolution which produced new shades of hair color, followed by what some researchers attribute to a preference for mates with lighter colored hair, which fixed it in these areas. So people from these regions and their descendants in Northern America have colors not common in other continents.

  • Light Colored Hair: Blondes are common in Nordic countries, where more than 80 percent have light colored hair, and the percentage decreases gradually towards southern Europe.
  • Red Hair: Two to six percent of people of European descent have red hair. In the UK, on an average ten percent of the population has red hair according to BBC. Scotland, where 13 percent of people have red hair, is the region with the largest percentage. Ireland is home to ten percent of red-haired people, according to Cosmopolitan.
  • Brown to Black Hair: According to the map shown by BigThink, in the south of Europe, as light colored hair decreases, browns and blacks become more prominent, and up to 80 percent of people can be black or brown haired.

However, mobility in recent times could start blurring rigid partitioning of hair color among people in a region or the world.

Age and Health

Another general reason for differences in hair color is age in any part of the world. In addition to age, some medical conditions also turn hair color to grey or white.

The Telegraph reports that hair starts graying later than previously thought, and increases progressively with age.

  • Only 63 percent of people between 45-50 years had a fifth of gray hair.
  • By the time people reached 61-65 years, 91 percent could expect to have nearly half their hair turning gray.

In general, men gray more than women; 78 percent among men and 71 percent among women have gray hair.

Dyed Hair Colors

A 2017 market research in the hair dye industry, reported by Insider Tradings, found that 70 percent of women in Europe, and 75 percent of women in the U.S. dyed their hair. Ten percent of European men also dyed their hair. The most common dye used to color hair is not fixed and can differ through time.

woman having her hair highlighted


Highlighting is more common, and preferred by 46 percent of women, compared to a full coloring, which 35 percent of women choose, according to Statistic Brain Research Institute.


People from all around the world use shades of blonde, red, brown and black to dye their hair, whether they are in Asia, in the West, or in any other part of the world.

North America leads world demand in novel hair dye colors like pink, blue, and purple according to Insider Tradings.


Common or popular colors for hair dyes change with time and trends. These days fashion-dictated trends can vary from year to year.

  • Blondes were popular in the 1950s.
  • In 2017, the warm brownish, buttery shades associated with hygge were popular defying predicted fashion trends.
  • Swinging away from browns, L'Oréal Paris' set the trendiest hair color in 2018 as Rose Blonde. Browns, blacks, and greys follow close on heel.
  • However, nearly 50 percent of women in 2017 said they preferred to stick with their natural hair color due to health concerns arising from the chemicals used in dyes.

A Wide World of Hair Color

The trend towards highlighting shows women are embracing their tresses in all their natural glory, and adding a touch of difference to show their personality. For the more adventurous, there is a range of dyes and combinations possible and it is an ever-widening rainbow.

Whether it comes to the natural color you're born with, or the choice in hair dye, the answer to what's the most common depends on many factors.

Most Common Hair Color