Let’s talk about beards. Probably the most fashionable item for a man to wear, beards are all the rage right now. Particularly ginger beards, if you ask us.
Those with reddish beards aren’t always ‘full-blown’ redheads, however. These people are sometimes referred to as ‘half gingers’ or ‘secret redheads’, but there’s more to ginger beards than jokes about being a ginger in denial and suggestions that you dye your hair.
So why do some non-ginger men have ginger facial hair?
Here are the facts. Less than 2% of the world’s population have the pleasure of being natural redheads, which is the result of both parents carrying the recessive MC1R ‘ginger gene’ on chromosome 16. We know that one – it’s like winning the genetic lottery.
But what you may not know, is that our clever ginger genetics can mess around with non-redheads’ genes in different ways, too – it’s not just red or not red.
While MC1R is heavily involved with inflicting glorious redness on your hair shade, not one single gene is dominant over all of the others, but actually they influence each other.
This means that your hair, from your head to your, er, nether regions, can all be totally different shades.
“Aha!” I hear you exclaim.
How does this happen? Well, while red hair on your head is determined by MC1R being on chromosome 16, those without red hair but with ginger beards are so inclined because in their DNA the MC1R mutation occurs on chromosome 4 instead.
This also means that these lucky humans are carriers of the ‘ginger gene’, giving them the potential to bear red-haired offspring.
So in a weird way, saying that someone is a ‘half ginger’ or a ‘secret redhead’ is actually kind of accurate.
Long live ginger beards!