It’s one of nature’s most enduring mysteries – why do so many non-redhead men have ginger beards?
It can be baffling and surprising for anyone trying to grow facial hair so some answers are in order. Well, science is starting to shed some light on this follicle conundrum.
Petra Haak-Bloem from Erfocentrum, a Dutch genetics organisation, has explained to Motherboard how it all works.
She said: “The genes that determine hair color are so-called ‘incomplete dominant hereditary traits’. This means that there isn’t one single gene that’s dominant over the rest, but all genes influence each other.
“Generally speaking, people inherit hair colour not only from their parents, but also from their grandparents and earlier ancestors.
“So it’s entirely possible that one distant ancestor had a hair colour that suddenly appears again though a certain combination of genes—and that can be quite unexpected for parents.”
So, it seems you have your distant relatives to thank for your unexpectedly orange facial hair.
To explain it a little more, it essentially all comes down to the relative amounts of two pigments: eumelanin and pheomelanin, which determine the colour of your hair and skin.
Hair cells of dark haired people only contain eumelanin, blondes have less eumelanin and redheads’ hair contains mostly pheomelanin, according to experts at the website Shavers.
They said: “These pigments are controlled by genes, and one in particular called MC1R. The MC1R gene provides instructions for making a protein called the melanocortin 1 receptor. When the melanocortin 1 receptor is activated, it triggers a series of chemical reactions that stimulate cells to make eumelanin.”
When you have two versions of the gene (one from each parent), the receptor is not activated and you’ll have a full head and beard of red hair.
But if you have just one version of the gene, the hair on your head will be brown or blond whilst your beard (and other regions) can be distinctly red.
Interestingly, fewer than 2% of the world’s population are natural redheads while around 25% of people carry the ‘ginger gene’ so they can potentially pass on the tell tale red hue to their kids.
We reckon whatever colour your facial hair ends up, embrace your beard and wear it with pride.