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i am the ginger beard man!
March 13, 2006 11:13 AM   Subscribe

I have dark brown hair, yet I grow a beard tinged with quite a bit of ginger hair. Why?

Neither my parents nor my grandparents have ginger hair... in fact i can't think of any ginger people in my family (and paternity is not in dispute, hehe).

but i've noticed this occurring in quite a lot of people and i was wondering if there was a reason for it to happen.
posted by knapah to Health & Fitness (31 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
This is not the slightest bit uncommon-- it's noticeable in me and my father as well. But why it happens? I have absolutely no idea.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:17 AM on March 13, 2006


The clairol web site actually has a nice description of what your hair color is composed of:

Your natural haircolor is determined by three factors:

* The type of natural color pigment melanin present in your hair's cortex. There are only two types of pigment:
o Eumelanin (black pigment)
o Phenomelanin (red/yellow pigment)
* How many melanin granules exist
* Whether those granules are close together or far apart

Here is how these elements determine your natural haircolor:

* Black hair contains densely packed melanin granules full of eumelanin.
* Brown hair has a loose pattern of eumelanin-filled granules or granules blended with eumelanin and phenomelanin, depending upon its cool or warm tones and its darkness or lightness.
* Blonde hair contains few granules with minimal bits of eumelanin. In fact, the eumelanin is so sparse that the color of blonde hair is the color of the hair fiber itself.
* Red hair has loosely packed granules containing phenomelanin.

So I'm guessing many people just have fewer melanin granules in the beard hair.
posted by selfmedicating at 11:18 AM on March 13, 2006 [1 favorite]


The exact same thing happens to me. I have pretty plain brown hair, but when I grow a beard, it comes out kinda reddish.

If I were more vain, I would consider getting my hair dyed to match the goatee... not because I mind them not matching, but because I find my beard color to be more interesting.
posted by gregvr at 11:18 AM on March 13, 2006


Not an answer, but I have light brown hair and distinctly reddish sideburns. I've never grown a beard, but I wouldn't be surprised if it came in a similar color. Facial hair and head hair have different thickness, textures, and curliness, so I'm not surprised that in some (many? most?) people they have surprising color differences, too.
posted by Plutor at 11:18 AM on March 13, 2006


I have dark brown hair and if I bleach it, it turns a variety of shades of red before arriving at brassy blonde. It's just down to how much melanin is being bleached out. Your brown hair has a surprising amount of red hiding in there.
posted by selfmedicating at 11:20 AM on March 13, 2006


Old superstition:

"Trust no man, though he be your brother,
Whose hair is one color, and his beard another."
posted by JanetLand at 11:25 AM on March 13, 2006 [2 favorites]


I do this, too. Because (according to the woman who used to cut my hair in Maine), hairs are tubes composed of lots of layers and some have lots of pigment and some do not. The base pigment (ie hair that has no other color) is reddish and people with red hair actually don't have much pigment in their hair besidesthis base pigment. Beards have a lot of variation in follicle size, and some people with dark beards grow quite a few hairs that don't have the outer coating of dark.

My wife is a redhead, and her head hair, when examined closely, has a lot of clear layers in it. (I get bored when she drives). My red hairs, on the other hand, tend to be thin and have a markedly different texture from the hairs around them.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:26 AM on March 13, 2006


Are you of Norse / Scandinavian descent? My dad's family is, and while they've almost all got dark hair, a couple of of his eight siblings have ginger hair. I was born blonde, now have brown hair, and get a ginger beard. You say your parents or grandparents don't have red hair, but perhaps if they had more kids or siblings it might've shown up.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 11:28 AM on March 13, 2006


I have very dark brown hair on my head, most of my body, and my eyebrows are a similar color. My nether regions grow in a very brassy brown, but pretty uniformly the same color.

My face? My face grows hair irregularly to begin with. I have low density coverage on some of my face, but there are numerous areas on my face where hair does not grow at all. At any given time, I have black, dark brown, various shades of red, blonde, and white hairs that grow. As for why, I've never had a very good explanation.
posted by sequential at 11:30 AM on March 13, 2006


My boyfriend and another fellow I know both have brown hair (ranging to nearly blonde for the BF) and both have facial hair with a large amount of shocking orange. Not even what I'd call red, but distinctly orange. They're both mostly Irish heritage, so that might matter, but as I said, this color doesn't show up on the tops of their heads, just the face and primarily the chin.
posted by luftmensch at 11:38 AM on March 13, 2006


The opposite happens to me, I have sandy hair and a nearly black beard.
posted by I Foody at 11:39 AM on March 13, 2006


My (very dark haired) boyfriend and other beard growers I know have ginger beard hairs mixed in their facial hair.

Beards are hot!
posted by Packy_1962 at 12:03 PM on March 13, 2006


My beard was this way too. Then all the reddish hairs turned grey. My hair is barely grey, but my beard is now nearly all white and I am not yet 40. So beware.
posted by jimfl at 12:39 PM on March 13, 2006


I was going to post about the same thing as jimfl. For me, red was the transitional stage to gray.
posted by adamrice at 12:41 PM on March 13, 2006


I'm blonde and my beard grows in very reddish.
posted by bshort at 12:50 PM on March 13, 2006


My dad has brown hair and gingerish facial hair; he fathered me, a ginger-haired daughter. I've always wondered if the recessive gene for red hair he carries contributes to the reddish facial hair.
posted by junkbox at 12:55 PM on March 13, 2006


Make it three on the red to gray thing. Exactly the same as jimfl.
posted by Pliskie at 1:30 PM on March 13, 2006


I have this too. My lighter beard hairs seem kind of misshapen, kind of flat.
posted by muddylemon at 2:53 PM on March 13, 2006


Born white-blond, stayed that way for years, gradually turned dark brown with a streak of white-blond remaining at the temple.

Facial hair is dark brown with blond hair on chin and mustache. In case this isn't clear, brown beard, blond mustache. Eyebrows are dark brown slightly framed with white-blond. I kid you not. It drives me crazy.
posted by empyrean at 3:28 PM on March 13, 2006


Exactly what obiwanwasabi said. My dad's the only brown haired kid, as a matter of fact. My uncle that died yesterday was a redhead (and beard). The rest are blondes.

Anyway, also the red to gray thing. I had a concentration of reddish hairs right under the center of my lower lip. But those have gone gray within the last 18 months.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:52 PM on March 13, 2006


Same here. Brown hair red beard. (Arrrrr!)
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 5:53 PM on March 13, 2006


I'm sandy/dark-blonde (tho that turns pretty much blonde if I spend enough time in the sun). My beard is red, with streaks of blonde here and there. Oddly, my eyebrows are very light blonde, like my hair when I was a kid. Chest hair is dark brown.

God was a bit confused when he made me.
posted by zardoz at 6:13 PM on March 13, 2006


Hmmm...Wikipedia doesn't seem to have any answers (at least not in Beards or Facial Hair). I'm another instance of brown head hair (what's left, anyway) and a reddish beard. My mother's brother (who also has MPB) has a beard that, as I recall, pretty well matches his brown hair. My younger brother used to have blond hair, now it's a light brown, and his goatee pretty well matches it. I had one great-uncle who had a beard, but it was white ever since I can remember, and he wasn't related to me by blood anyway. The mystery remains...

Love your title, by the way.
posted by attercoppe at 7:09 PM on March 13, 2006


Born white-blond, stayed that way for years, gradually turned dark brown with a streak of white-blond remaining at the temple.

Facial hair is dark brown with blond hair on chin and mustache. In case this isn't clear, brown beard, blond mustache. Eyebrows are dark brown slightly framed with white-blond. I kid you not. It drives me crazy.


My brother! I have wondered about this for a long time myself. I am exactly the same way
posted by Deep Dish at 8:02 PM on March 13, 2006


My (very dark haired) boyfriend and other beard growers I know have ginger beard hairs mixed in their facial hair.

Beards are hot!


Mine has that too, and yeah, beards really are hot. I'll be interested to see more answers for this one, as we've wondered about this for a while.
posted by lhall at 10:03 PM on March 13, 2006


Beards are hot!

Sweeeeet.

In addition to the brown hair and red beard, my soul patch comes in blonde. I feel like a book of fabric swatches.
posted by poweredbybeard at 11:02 PM on March 13, 2006


one more brown-haired redbeard chiming in here. you can only really see it in the sun though.
posted by bizwank at 11:24 PM on March 13, 2006


-dark-blonde hair (bleaches out with any sun at all)...
-brown eyebrows...
-red beard (when it grows in)...

and it's always been a mystery to me...
posted by MonkNoiz at 11:50 PM on March 13, 2006


It probably has something to do with how different hair areas are sensitive to hormones. I have black hair (now with a lot of grey) but I get some red on my upper lip mixed in with the black. Curiously although the hair on my head is liberally mixed with grey now my beard isn't. The grey only shows up on my upper lip or my chin but none along the jawline or sideburns.

This article
points out that grey hair is caused when your hair is missing melanin, either eumelanin (brown or black) or pheomelanin (blond to red) so perhaps our beard colour differences are caused by the follicles failure to produce eumelanin while there is still some residual pheomelanin production.

In my case it would probably age related and part of the progression towards more grey hair. I didn't ever grow a beard in my youth so I don't if my beard hair was as uniformly black as my hair was but I suspect so based on my recollection of the stubble colour.

Or it all could just be BBQ sauce or an interaction with saliva when I like the BBQ sauce off my 'stach
posted by srboisvert at 7:55 AM on March 14, 2006


Very brown hair and a beard that comes in orange here. Good question.
posted by BackwardsCity at 9:46 AM on March 14, 2006


Somewhere I read that "true Titian hair" was this glorious mixture of brown, red, and blond hairs that winds up looking some shade of red but has a lot more depth than monochromatic hair.

I myself am a dark Titian.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 10:39 AM on March 14, 2006


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