From ginger haters to redhead fetishists, red hair polarizes the populace. It's a high-risk, high-reward volatile substance that rocks the scales of attractiveness. No other hair color can claim as much. So what the hell is going on here?

If you are average- to below-average-looking and have average to below-average red hair, it will tarnish your image more than any other hair color. Unflattering red hair produces such a ghastly sight, people will write off the attractiveness of others solely based off their red hair. Look at this dude.

He'd be a pretty decent-looking chap without them red locks. If he didn't have red hair, he might get away with his half-assed goatee, 40-year-old-mom sweater, and glorified Lego basket. But the cherry curls accentuate these things, because red hair accentuates everything. Now he's cornered and will probably only get consistent boning from kinky people obsessed with red hair, regardless of its quality. Which isn't a good place to be.

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Still don't believe red hair exacerbates unattractive features? Remember this guy? Read any good longreads lately?

Sure, Carrot Top is an ugly dude. But he wouldn't be that ugly without red hair. Here he is reaching deep into his Medusa locks that turn tingly female inclinations to stone, wondering how the hell it came to this.

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And this isn't a phenomenon that only hurts males. Red-hair conflicts touch all ages and genders. This girl could have significant cuteness without the tangled red locks and freckles, but the red hair prevents her from reaching peak prettiness potential.

Some people let a few unpleasant red-hair experiences totally taint crimson for them. "Gingers are gross," they say. "I don't get them." And whenever someone whips out "ginger," there's usually no chance in hell they'll bang whomever they're referring to.

But red hair is not all doom. In fact, it can be a glorious feature that elevates beauty. If you are average- to above-average-looking and you have pretty solid red hair, that shit can make you hot as fuck.

Just look at Tom Osborne back in the day. The red hair contrasts nicely with his face (and sports jacket in this case). It's not widely known, but when Nebraskan women shouted "Go Big Red!" throughout the 1990s as Osborne racked up three national titles, they meant it as a double entendre.

You don't have to be a college-football legend to get people to dig red hair. Look at this woman below. My gawd, she's fucking gorgeous! While she'd be attractive with blue hair (or no hair at all, for that matter), her red strands bump her hotness up about 19 percentage points.

It isn't all knotted or too bright. The coloring is spectacular and immediately pulls your attention even though it doesn't appear super-artificial or manufactured. Hues are pretty even, but fade in and out just enough.

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And that seems to be the combo that works best with redheads: a light complexion, penetrating pupils, and a touch of ruby to tie it altogether. The hair is also usually flowing and not incredibly curly. (Not saying curly hair ain't ever hot. It definitely can be. Just less likely to be hot on redheads. But there are exceptions.)

The perplexing nature of red hair may stem from its color in general. Red is said to amplify emotions and provoke people into action. It's associated with blood, passion, and love. There's even belief it will raise your car-insurance premiums. Whatever reaction it causes, whether delight or revulsion, a strong reaction is assured. It's a blessing. Or it's a curse. Never is it neither.

Photos by Getty / ShutterStock.