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Why Do Some Men Have Red Beard?

Beards have increasingly gained popularity over the years, and the trend doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. But have you noticed guys with a red beards and wondered why the beard is red though the hair is brown, blonde, or black?

Why Do Some Men Have Red Beard?

A certain ratio of two different pigments that are a bio-aggregate of melanin is the cause of different hair colors among individuals—namely, the ratio of eumelanin to pheomelanin.

The gene, known as MC1R, also plays a direct role in producing red hair or beard in men as well. This gene can also be passed from parents to a child if both parents have it.

Red Beard Mystery

red beard

There are beards to be found all over, from the big screens of Hollywood to professional athletes’ courts.

It’s no wonder there is so much hype around beards considering that there have been studies showing that there might be both survival and reproductive benefits to facial hair.

So, it comes as no surprise that men worldwide are growing out their beards to see if they can capitalize on some of these benefits for themselves.

While beards come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, you might have noticed that it is not particularly uncommon for men with brown hair to have a red beard. You, yourself, might be asking why is my beard red.

Interestingly enough, there is actually a scientific explanation for the case of the brown hair red beard.

What Determines Facial Hair Color?

blonde hair with red beard

Most people understand the general concept that genetics ultimately determine what your facial hair color will be. But, to be more specific, the ratio of eumelanin to pheomelanin in the shaft of your hair is the determining factor.

To break it down more specifically:

  • Dark brown hair = high ratio of eumelanin to pheomelanin
  • Red hair = high ratio of pheomelanin to eumelanin
  • Blonde hair = fewer amounts of both pheomelanin and eumelanin

Erfocentrum is an organization that promotes genetic research in the Netherlands. Petra Haak-Bloem, a specialist from Erfocentrum, explained in detail to the online magazine Motherboard that not only do you inherit your hair color from your parents but also your grandparents and distant ancestors.

Getting further into it, Haak-Bloem explains that researchers have found over a decade ago that one specific gene, now known as MC1R, plays a crucial role in creating red hair. Parents who are both carriers of the MC1R gene will produce a child with red hair regardless of their hair color.

However, if just one parent passes down the MC1R gene, their child will find evidence of this in other places aside from their head, such as their red beard.

Which Nationalities Have Red Beard/Hair More?

While it is likely that the US may have the highest number of redheads who may also have red beards if it was solely based on number, as even if 1% of the country’s population had red hair the number would amount to 3,000,000 people approximately.

But, according to a study by Eupedia, the British Isles has the highest number of redheads per capita, particularly, the Celtic nations of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. According to the Telegraph, it is also common in the Nordic region as well.

So it is very likely that people living in this region have the highest number of people with red beards as well. It also indicates that one or some of your ancestors may be from this region as well.

FAQs About Red Hair

Does having red hair only depend on one dominant gene?

Not really. According to Haak-Bloem, having red hair or a beard depends on multiple genes in your body that you’ve inherited from both your parents. Those same genes also affect every person differently.

Do I inherit hair color just from my parents?

No, people can also inherit hair color from their grandparents and even earlier ancestors who might or might not be closely related. Distant relatives may have played a role too as red hair is a combination of specific genes.

What does MC1R do exactly?

It makes a protein called melanocortin 1 that converts pheomelanin into eumelanin. Therefore inheriting different versions of MC1R genes can cause less pheomelanin to convert to eumelanin. This results in causing red hair or beard and fair skin.

What happens if only one of my parents has MC1R?

While it might not cause you to get red hair or a beard, it might cause you to have red hair in “unwanted” places.

How much eumelanin is there in red hair?

According to some research, red hair can have up to 67 percent of eumelanin, while black hair has 99 percent, and brown and blond hair has 95 percent of the pigment.

What are eumelanin and pheomelanin?

Eumelanin is a brownish-black pigment that is a different form of melanin. Its functions are to protect the epidermis against damage from UV radiation and play a role in the color of your hair.

Pheomelanin is a reddish-yellow sulfur-containing melanin pigment. It plays a major role in people having dark brown or black hair.

Can I increase eumelanin and pheomelanin in my body?

No! Pheomelanin cannot be increased in your body. As for eumelanin, while you can increase it temporarily, the baseline amount is controlled by your genes.

How common is it to have a red beard?

Some studies show that almost two in five men have red or reddish beards. It’s so common that there’s even a name for it – Gingerbread, which is described by Urban Dictionary as “A dude with brown, black, or blonde hair, who when he grows a beard, it is entirely red, or red in patches.”.

Can I get a red beard when I get older?

Yes, men can grow red beards when they grow older. It’s most common among men in and after their 40s.

Are red beards indicative of something wrong?

Nope. As research by Haak-Bloem tells us, while the red hair gene/genes may have been passed down from your earlier ancestors, there is no health risk to you and is completely normal for most men to have.

To summarize, if you find yourself with brown hair and a red beard, don’t be alarmed – this is very common. Despite dark hair seemingly being the dominant gene in your family, you can thank your distant ancestors for the MC1R gene that comes out in your beard.