Everyone knows a guy – or three – who has more ginger whiskers on his beardy little face than any other colour.

And it doesn’t seem to matter what hue his ‘do is, either; this guy can only seem to sprout the red stuff.

Turns out the reason why is a lot more complicated – and weird – than we thought.

“Generally speaking, people inherit hair colour not only from their parents, but also from their grandparents and earlier ancestors,” explains Petra Haak-Bloem, an expert at The Netherlands’ Information Centre for Genetics and Hereditary Traits. “So it’s entirely possible that one distant ancestor had a hair colour that suddenly appears again through a certain combination of genes – and that can be quite unexpected for parents.”

Here’s where it gets slightly trickier to follow.

Basically, for caucasian men and women, your DNA doesn’t just determine what colour your hair is, it’s responsible for how much of each colour you have. 


“The shades are dependent on two sorts of [pigment],” Petra continues. “Hair cells of dark-haired people only contain eumelanine [black pigment].

“Blondes have less eumelanine. And redheads’ hair contains mostly phemelanine [red pigment].”

So you can thank a redheaded great-great-grandparent for passing on enough DNA to one day over-ride your jet-black hair colour and give you that (adorable) ginger beard. 

Yay science!

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