Sometimes life surprises you. Like when Ronda Rousey ate the business end of a roundhouse kick from Holly Holm and saw her undefeated record fade away faster than her consciousness. But sometimes the surprise that lands on your chin isn’t a second-round knockout kick, it’s just a confusing shade of hair color. Many beardsman may have noticed – or personally experienced – a red beard growing on the face while the head boasts a totally different shade of color. The question is – why? Why would the hair on a guy’s head be different than the hair on their face, especially considering the two actually connect into one another at the sideburns? Fear not, curious readers – science is here to break this case wide open.
Motherboard recently published an article that explains the genetic makeup that causes this anomaly. According to Petra Haak-Bloem, a specialist at Erfocentrum, the Dutch national information centre for genetics and hereditary traits, “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.”
The article goes on to explain that the appearance of red hair is caused by a mutation in what is called the “MC1R gene”. Two mutated MC1R genes results in someone having all red hair. However having just one mutated MC1R gene can give a person red hair in random and unexpected places.
The appearance of the MC1R gene also indicates that someone somewhere in your family tree was a redhead, but it can actually take generations for that genetic mutation to show up again. So beardsmen, if you have a randomly red beard, you might need to take to Ancestry.com and try to figure out which of your ancestors is responsible for that genetic roundhouse kick.