Judging by what’s on the Internet, we understand why it might seem like every single guy in the world has either a beard on his face or a bun on his head (we’ve certainly given our fair share of coverage to this important subject of our time).
So with all this hair flying around, we were reminded of one of life’s great mysteries: Why are some guys’ beards a different color than the rest of their hair?
We turned to dermatologist Dr. Bobby Buka, founder of Greenwich Village Dermatology in New York, who said it basically comes down to pigments and genetics.
“The difference between red hair and blonde hair or brown hair is different types of melanin,” Buka said, referring to the pigment packs that bring color to our hair (without it, our hair is white).
One type of melanin, a very light type called pheomelanin, is responsible for blonde or red hair, and eumelanin is the darker melanin found in darker-toned hair. How it gets distributed through the shaft of each hair and in what combinations is what determins our hair color, and it can vary by each individual follicle.
“The other component that contributes to color is the distribution of the melanin from the base of the hair follicle to the rest of the shaft,” Buka said. “That transfer process is genetic, and so redheads have more pheomelanin and their pigment stays at the base of the hair follicle, and black-haired people have more eumelanin and transfers throughout the shaft.”
The same goes for each follicle on your head, so those around your jaw and neck might have a different eumelanin-to-pheomelanin ratio than say, what’s on the top of your head.
For what it’s worth, our skin has pigments to protect ourselves from ultraviolet rays, but Buka pointed out that our hair doesn’t need UV protection. So why is there a biological reason that our hair would have pigments? “I can’t see why we would have one,” he said.
It seems some mysteries still need to be solved.
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