The Anti album singer Rihanna, appears to have eyes that change color from brown to gold to almost green. Does that mean that she wears contacts?
Rihanna does not wear contacts, but has an eye color that changes depending on the light. She has a unique eye color known as hazel. Hazel eyes shift from a brown to a gold to green depending on what kind of lighting they are in. This has led many people to believe that Rihanna wears colored contact lenses.
You can read more about what determines eye color, the role light reflection plays in eye color, and why Riri’s eyes change without the use of contact lenses.
What Causes Eye Color to be Different?
Brown eyes are the most common eye color in the world, accounting for approximately 79% of all eye colors. Eye color is determined by the level of melanin in the iris. The more melanin in your eye’s iris determines what color will appear.
Up until 2008, it was widely accepted that brown eye color was a dominant gene and blue and green eyes were recessive. Recessive means that they would show up if your family carried the DNA that could result in those eye colors.
Then, new research came out that determined eye color is not inherited genetically and it is rather a genetic mutation that can happen to virtually any parent child combination. It turns out every person in the world has black-brown eyes. If you end up with the genetic mutation that produces less melanin in your eye’s iris, they will appear to be green, hazel, or blue as opposed to brown.
Further to this, it has also been discovered that blue, green, and hazel eyes are all affected by what is known as Rayleigh scattering. Without getting insanely technical, Rayleigh scattering is basically what happens when light goes through different particles and is then reflected as a color that corresponds with that particle’s wavelength. It is the phenomenon behind the color of the sky. In eyes, it has to do with how the melanin in your iris reflects light. Essentially, if you have less melanin in your iris’ pigmentation, the light will be reflected as a color that is not brown.
You can watch the below YouTube video from Knowledge of Living that explains Rayleigh scattering in eyes in more detail.
The Rarest Eye Colors
With brown eyes taking up the title of most common eye color, what about the rest? Well blue eyes are the next most common eye color. Hazel is a bit rarer, but not one of the rarest. The rarest eye colors are green, gray, red/violet eyes, and the condition known as heterochromia.
As reported by World Atlas, Green eyes account for only 2% of the world’s population. Gray accounts for less than 1%. Red or violet eyes are an effect of albinism in people and account for less than 1% of the world’s population. The red color is attributed to levels of melanin that are so low the color of red blood vessels reflect in their eyes.
Finally, heterochromia is an extremely rare case where the levels of melanin vary between each eye. The variation is so large that the eyes are two different colors. This condition is most commonly seen in the Husky dog breed.
Why Rihanna’s Eyes Change Color
Rihanna’s eyes are naturally a hazel color. Hazel eyes are actually one of the more rare eye colors. People with hazel eyes only account for approximately 5% of the world’s population. This eye color will actually transition from one color to another depending on the lighting. Meaning that Rihanna’s eyes may be very green in one photo, but look a dark brown in another.
Like mentioned above, the change in eye color is due to the phenomenon known as Rayleigh scattering. This is why light plays such a large role in the look of Rihanna’s eyes. It is also why there are always rumors floating around that the singer wears colored contacts.