Black hair is the darkest and most common of all human hair colors globally. It is a dominant genetic trait, and it is found in people of all backgrounds and ethnicities. It has large amounts of eumelanin and is less dense than other hair colors. Sometimes very dark brown (blackish-brown) hair is mistaken for black because the potency of eumelanin in the hair gives it the lustrous properties of black hair, using the rationale that "brown" does not do the darkness of the shade justice. Black hair is known to be the shiniest of all hair colors. In English, black hair is sometimes described as "soft-black", "raven black", or "jet-black". The range of skin colors associated with black hair is vast, ranging from the palest of white skin tones to a tan olive complexion (brown skin) to black skin. Black-haired humans can have dark or light eyes.
Outside of Europe, the majority of humans have black hair. This is likely the original hair color of Homo sapiens, and is found in its greatest distribution in Africa, Asia, and the pre-Columbian Americas. Black hair is also particularly common in people of Asia, Southern Europe, parts of South America and Africa regardless of ethnolinguistic affiliation. It is notably concentrated among Celtic peoples of Europe. For example, the western Irish are particularly noted for their curly hair, very dark brown to jet-black hair combined with either dark (such as brown) or light (such as green, gray or blue) colored eyes. Irish people with these traits are sometimes known as the "Black Irish". This characteristic can be seen in sizable portions of British people as well throughout the United Kingdom. It is seen also in parts of Central Europe and Eastern Europe.
Dark haired people, ranging from dark chestnut and deep brown to black, with either dark or light colored eyes can also be seen among the Indo-European ethnic groups in Iran, Afghanistan, and North India. Black hair is least common in the Baltic littoral, where true blondism is believed to have originated.
Chinese girl with black hair
Khoisan woman with black hair
A Circassian woman, their black hair was considered to be an ideal of beauty.
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- Frost, Peter. "Why Do Europeans Have So Many Hair and Eye Colors?" (summarizing Frost, P. 2006. European hair and eye color - A case of frequency-dependent sexual selection? Evolution and Human Behavior 27:85-103)
- National Geographic. See also Blond for more information on the origins of blond hair.
- The Distribution of Anthropological Traits in Europe , Bertil Lundman : The Races and Peoples of Europe (New York 1977)
- Day, John V. (Fall 2002). "In Quest of Our Linguistic Ancestors: The Elusive Origins of the Indo-Europeans" (PDF). The Occidental Quarterly 2 (3): 5–20. Retrieved 2010-05-08.